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Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones' quest to divest himself and his team from the revenue-sharing requirements in regards to NFL Properties continues to elicit strong opinions. This morning, more NFL owners, several columnists and Jones' old friend, former Cowboys Coach Jimmy Johnson, weigh in. IN HOUSTON, NFL writer John McClain writes, "Before this season, Jones was just a sideshow, the P.T. Barnum of the NFL, a tireless, shameless self-promoter with an insatiable appetite for publicity. ... Some Cowboy observers say Jones wants the league to file a lawsuit against him so his attorneys -- and those from PepsiCo and Nike -- will have an opportunity to break the NFL Properties contract that expires in 2004" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 9/8). IN NEW YORK, columnist Phil Mushnick -- who calls Jones a "bombastic, me-firsting showoff" and compares him to Don King and Donald Trump -- writes, "If Mr. Jones does not wish to participate in the NFL's profit-sharing system; if he no longer wishes to be a team player and insists upon making his own, more profitable deals, the NFL should not fight him, it should pave the way to accommodate him; now and forever" (N.Y. POST, 9/8). IN CHICAGO, Andrew Gottesman & Don Pierson write, "By generating sponsorship dollars that are not shared among all 30 league teams, Jones is injecting some capitalism into an industry that traditionally has been run by socialism" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 9/8). IN PHILADELPHIA, columnist Rich Hofmann writes, "Jones is threatening the NFL's very foundation." While Eagles Owner Jeff Lurie withheld comment on the Jones deals, Eagles VP Joe Banner said, "We're not totally socialist around here." Hofmann reports that Banner "makes the case that what Jerry Jones is doing isn't all bad. He says that teams throughout the league currently have a problem, a problem in defining exactly what they can and can't do in terms of marketing themselves locally. Banner figures this might lead to a clearer definition. The Eagles, Banner said, also believe that more money could be generated leaguewide if more of the marketing decisions were made locally." Hofmann disagrees warning of what could happen to lower-revenue teams if "economic power becomes the key determinant in the future of the NFL" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 9/7). ON TV: After taping HBO's "Inside the NFL," Jimmy Johnson criticized Jones for making the Nike announcement during the "Monday Night" game. Johnson: "That's just Jerry. He's gonna do everything possible to make every dollar he can make. ... The other owners are able to still make a profit and abide by league guidelines. He does it because he wants to make more money" (N.Y. POST, 9/8). HBO's Chris Collinsworth said a Deion Sanders signing by the Cowboys "spells the end of the salary cap as we know it. I don't think there is any question at all that there is some sort of triangular relationship between Nike and the Dallas Cowboys and Deion Sanders" ("Inside the NFL," HBO, 9/7).
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL reports on the increased cost of attending an NFL game, based on research by Team Marketing Report. The average NFL ticket price rose 9.3% to $33.39 this year. The total stadium expense for a family of four rose 8.7% to $198.57 (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 9/8)....THE SPORTING NEWS reports the MLBPA "privately concedes there is no way it can get back service time for its members." Many players believed they would be free agents, but instead will simply be arbitration- eligible. "Of course, considering the state of baseball, arbitration eligibility will be the same as free agency for all but a few players" (TSN, 9/11 issue).
"The results won't be known until next week, but both sides were ready to claim victory in the NBA labor fight Thursday," according to this morning's CHICAGO SUN TIMES. NBA Commissioner David Stern: "We feel the majority of the players will do the right thing. They will overwhelmingly approve the contract, which is a very good contract for everybody. Then we can get back to the business of basketball and opening our season on schedule." Agent Marc Fleisher: "We killed them in New York, and we killed them in Winston-Salem and Los Angeles, while Philadelphia was a dead heat. I hear that 12 voted in New York. I'd be surprised if (union supporters) had four votes. Patrick Ewing and Dino Radja announced publicly they voted for us. Eight voted in Los Angeles. And I feel we got seven and definitely not less than six. Most of our guys have refused to talk for fear of reprisals. So it's my hope that most players who say they are voting for the union will actually (reject the union)" (Lacy Banks, CHICAGO SUN TIMES, 9/8). MORE FROM THE TOP: NBPA Exec Dir Simon Gourdine: "We think there has been a good strong turnout and we've operated from the assumption that the larger the turnout the better it was for the union. We feel very good about the results" (Mark Asher, WASHINGTON POST, 9/8). Michael Jordan: "If it doesn't carry then the players have spoken their mind, and that's all I ask. If the majority of the players choose to accept this deal then I'm with them, I'm with the majority, I'm with the players. As long as, two years down the road, they can live with the repercussions of what this deal is going to give them, then I'm happy" ("Sports Tonight," CNN, 9/7). FIRST IN LITIGATION, LAST IN THE AMERICAN LEAGUE: "Once again, the Twin Cities will become the sports litigation capital of the nation today when the NBA's contentious labor dispute moves into Minneapolis federal court," according to today's Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. U.S. District Judge David Doty will hear motions concerning the dissidents antitrust lawsuit and request for an injunction against the lockout, as well as the league's request to change venue from Minneapolis to New York. Weiner: "Doty is not expected to make any rulings today. Indeed, if the outcome of the players' decertification vote is to uphold the union and, in essence, support a new collective bargaining agreement, then this case probably will be dismissed" (Jay Weiner, Minneapolis STAR-TRIBUNE, 9/8). PASS THE HAT: The "status of the NLRB itself could pose a problem for the NBA," according to the N.Y. TIMES. NLRB New York Regional Dir Daniel Silverman: "We have already received potential furlough notices. It means if there is no budget on Oct. 1, employees may be laid off, myself included. Our cases, basketball in particular, may be delayed by the absence of a budget" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/8). WITHER THE REFS? "Should the decertification movement be defeated, as appears likely, next on the league's cramped agenda is to negotiate a new contract with the referees," (Peter Vecsey, N.Y. POST, 9/8).