It was a Super draw

97.5m watched XLII, most ever

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Associated Press / February 5, 2008

It comes as no consolation to the Patriots or their fans, but Super Bowl XLII was the most watched Super Bowl in history.

The Fox broadcast of New England's 17-14 loss to the Giants Sunday night drew 97.5 million viewers. That made it the second-most watched American television program ever, behind the series finale of "M*A*S*H" in 1983, which drew 106 million viewers.

The previous most-watched Super Bowl was Super Bowl XXX in January 1996, when the Cowboys defeated the Steelers, 27-17. In Boston, Sunday's game drew a whopping 81 share, meaning 81 percent of television sets turned on in the area were tuned to the game.

It was learned yesterday that the Giants' celebration of their win won't leave out New Jersey. The team will convene at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford this afternoon at 4, following an 11 a.m. ticker-tape parade in New York.

Miami hires Henning
Dan Henning was hired as the Dolphins' offensive coordinator, joining coach Tony Sparano's staff more than a quarter-century after his first stint with the franchise.

The 65-year-old Henning has coached in the NFL for 28 years, most recently as offensive coordinator in Carolina from 2002-06. He was Miami's quarterbacks and receivers coach in 1979 and 1980 under coach Don Shula.

Henning is well-versed in the ways of new Miami football operations head Bill Parcells; they worked together when Parcells was coach of the Jets.

Henning was head coach in Atlanta (1983-86) and San Diego (1989-91), and also coached at Boston College (1994-96).

Gates, Williams out
In addition to Patriots Tom Brady and Randy Moss pulling out of the Pro Bowl, to be replaced by the Browns' Derek Anderson and the Bengals' Chad Johnson, respectively, two other players opted out.

Chargers tight end Antonio Gates (toe) and defensive tackle Jamal Williams (ankle) also decided to skip Sunday's game.

Kellen Winslow will go in place of Gates, bringing the number of Browns in the Pro Bowl to six, the club's most since sending six in 1994. Steelers defensive tackle Casey Hampton takes Williams's spot on the AFC roster.

Johnson, making the trip to Hawaii for the fifth straight year, made it clear in interviews in Arizona leading up to the Super Bowl that he's unhappy in Cincinnati.

Johnson's agent yesterday denied a report that the receiver plans to sit out the 2008 season.

Vick can keep bonus
Jailed quarterback Michael Vick can keep all but $3.75 million of the nearly $20 million in bonus money he received from the Falcons following a ruling by a federal judge.

The Falcons sought to recover the bonuses after Vick pleaded guilty to federal charges in a dogfighting operation. The bonuses were paid from 2004-07.

A special master ruled in October the Falcons were entitled to recover the bonuses. The Falcons argued Vick used proceeds from a contract he signed in 2004 to finance his illicit activities.

But US District Judge David Doty of Minneapolis ruled that recovery of most of the bonus money by the Falcons would violate the NFL collective bargaining agreement. The agreement does not allow roster bonus money to be forfeited once it's been earned.

Vick received a 23-month jail sentence and entered a minimum-security prison in Kansas last month. The league has suspended Vick indefinitely without pay.

"It makes no sense that an individual who willfully violates his contract is entitled to be paid tens of millions of dollars even though he is in jail and providing no services whatsoever to his employer," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said.

Vermeil weighs in
Dick Vermeil, who coached the Rams to their first Super Bowl title in 2000, doubts dirty tricks prevented the franchise from winning it all again under Mike Martz in 2002. The Boston Herald, citing an unidentified source, reported Saturday that a member of the Patriots' video staff taped the Rams final walkthrough before the '02 Super Bowl. The Patriots were big underdogs but beat the Rams, 20-17. Aiello said Saturday the league had been aware of the "rumor" for months and found no evidence in tapes or notes produced by the team, and that the team denied videotaping the Rams . . . The Washington Post reported the Redskins, as had been expected, are scheduled to interview Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo today for their vacant coaching position.

Christopher L. Gasper of the Globe staff contributed to this report; material from the Associated Press was used.

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