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Mondays belong to ESPN

ESPN is betting nearly $2 billion a year that fans are ready for even more football.

The network agreed with the league on an eight-year contract extension that keeps “Monday Night Football” on ESPN through the 2021 season, boosts the amount of programming shown on the already football-saturated family of networks, and brings it to phones and tablets.

The deal is worth $1.9 billion a year for a total of $15.2 billion over the length of the contract, two people with knowledge of the agreement told The Associated Press. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because no money figures officially were announced.

ESPN’s current deal is worth $1.1 billion a year to the NFL.

The contract announced Thursday also includes expanded international rights, 3-D distribution rights and the right to show “Monday Night Football” and NFL studio shows on mobile devices.

HGH testing on hold

The NFL’s goal to be the first major professional sports league to implement testing for human growth hormone appears a long way from coming to fruition.

NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said that players have serious questions about the safety and reliability of the test. He said the World Anti-Doping Agency has not turned over the information the players’ association has requested.

HGH is naturally occurring in the body. The isoform test first used by WADA in 2004 – and which became more widespread in 2008 – is designed to detect synthetic HGH by measuring the ratio naturally occurring in the body against a population test.

WADA handles drug testing for the Olympics and is largely accepted as the gold standard for worldwide drug testing. Smith said he is concerned that it does not take into account the different types of bodies and conditions for football players.

Around the league

Giants defensive end Justin Tuck, a former Notre Dame star, indicated he would not play in the season opener against in Washington unless his neck injury improved. … Two-time Pro Bowl running back Larry Johnson re-signed with Miami. … Green Bay defensive end and Purdue product Mike Neal (shoulder) was inactive for the season opener against New Orleans.

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