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POSTED February 3, 2012 9:00 p.m.

NFL'S RATINGS, REVENUE, POPULARITY GROW AND GROW: INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Less than a year ago, Tom Brady, Logan Mankins, Osi Umenyiora and seven other players filed an antitrust suit against the NFL, a key moment in a convoluted and contentious labor dispute between the union and league that threatened to cut short — or even wipe out — the 2011 season.

On Sunday, Brady and Mankins of the New England Patriots and Umenyiora of the New York Giants will play in a Super Bowl that might very well draw more viewers than any TV show in history.

What lockout? What recession?

Nothing, it seems, can get in the way of the NFL, whose ratings and revenues climb and climb, no matter what. Indeed, some say both those issues managed to push even more attention and money the league's way.

Put simply, the NFL has the Midas Touch.

"The uncertainty of the lockout — 'Will it be settled? When will the deal come? Will it happen?' — created a sense of anticipation for the new season. It fed into the public's awareness of the NFL. Even the concussion stories helped, because the public has become aware of the issue and is watching games to see how the rules are enforced, to see how the game changes," said Neal Pilson, a former president of CBS Sports who now runs a media consulting firm.

NFL games accounted for 23 of the 25 most-watched telecasts last fall, and a total of 37 games drew at least 20 million viewers each.

MO. CANDIDATE WOULD BE AMONG RICHEST IN US SENATE: JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — St. Louis businessman John Brunner has already poured at least $1 million into his Republican quest to challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, and new documents show Brunner has a lot more where that came from.

Brunner and his wife, Jan, have assets worth at least $26 million and perhaps as much as $108 million, according to a personal financial report provided Friday to The Associated Press. That means Brunner would be one of the nation's richest senators, if elected. And it could provide ammunition to political opponents if they want to portray Brunner as out of touch with the average American — a story line already being used against Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

ROMNEY CAMPAIGN PARTS WAYS WITH DEBATE COACH: LAS VEGAS (AP) — The debate coach who worked with Mitt Romney ahead of two well-received debate performances in Florida is no longer with the Republican's presidential campaign.

Romney's campaign on Friday indicated that Brett O'Donnell, who coached 2008 nominee John McCain, would no longer be working for Romney. No reason was given.

O'Donnell coached congresswoman Michele Bachmann until she dropped out of the race. He coached Romney through the debates in Tampa and Jacksonville that advisers say were key to Romney's win over Newt Gingrich in the Florida primary.

ARMY ORDERS COURT-MARTIAL IN WIKILEAKS CASE: HAGERSTOWN, Md. (AP) — An Army officer ordered a court-martial Friday for a low-ranking intelligence analyst charged in the biggest leak of classified information in U.S. history.

Military District of Washington commander Maj. Gen. Michael Linnington referred all charges against Pfc. Bradley Manning to a general court-martial, the Army said in a statement.

The referral means Manning will stand trial for allegedly giving more than 700,000 secret U.S. documents and classified combat video to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks for publication.

The 24-year-old Crescent, Okla., native faces 22 counts, including aiding the enemy. He could be imprisoned for life if convicted of that charge.

A judge who is yet to be appointed will set the trial date

LAPD SERGEANT CHARGED IN SECOND HOME BURGLARY: SAN BERNARDINO  (AP) — Authorities say a Los Angeles police sergeant was arrested last week for a home burglary and it's the second time the 18-year veteran has been accused of such a crime.

The San Bernardino Sun reports (http://bit.ly/yOtCaG) 44-year-old Lucien Daigle of Highland was in San Bernardino Superior Court to face burglary charges Friday.

Daigle's lawyer Ira Salzman says he intends to resign from his job and is currently on leave from the Los Angeles Police Department.

Daigle is accused of stealing a $950 bicycle in the most recent theft.

Authorities say the earlier theft was discovered when a woman found Daigle in her Mentone home after returning from walking her dogs and doused him with an ultra-powerful pepper-spray.

 

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