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NFL owners meet in Washington, DC, today and Wednesday for their fall meetings. USA TODAY's Gordon Forbes writes that among the issues being discussed will be the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission's (CVC) $130M antitrust suit against the league. Although the Rams "are not a coplaintiff in the suit," they are entitled to $14M of any settlement or 50% of any damages awarded. NFL VP/Communications Joe Browne: "A large number of owners are upset at the notion that the Rams may benefit even more than they already have from their move to St. Louis." 49ers President Carmen Policy: "We feel betrayed and embarrassed. We're the ones who voted to permit the move" (USA TODAY, 10/14). In St. Louis, Bill McClellan wrote on the first week of the trial: "The first quarter score is in, and the NFL is ahead. Maybe way ahead" (POST-DISPATCH, 10/13). TV TALK: Broncos Owner and NFL Broadcasting Committee Chair Pat Bowlen is interviewed by Richard Sandomir of the N.Y. TIMES on the NFL's next TV deal. Bowlen: "The ratings don't matter. I really think they don't impact us at all." Bowlen added that Fox must pay "more than a token increase" above its $395M-a-year NFC package and hinted that Fox may want more than the NFC package: "They'd like to add, take your pick, cable or another broadcast package. They could take a swipe at the whole thing on Sunday afternoon. I don't know if that's in our best interest, but there's been conversation about it" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/14). Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones is interviewed by USA TODAY's Larry Weisman. On the next TV package, Jones said, "I'm limited in what I can say. ... I know it's going to be substantial" (USA TODAY, 10/14). In N.Y., Mike Freeman noted that some agents feel the league's next TV deal will lead to a "doubling" of the salary cap, bringing it to $70M from its current level of $41M in four to five years (N.Y. TIMES, 10/12). The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER's Stephen Battaglio wrote that "talk continues to circulate in sports TV circles about a CBS proposal for a new NFL package if it can't get an existing one. One scenario has the network getting Saturday NFL games each December -- following the conclusion of the college football regular season -- two games on Thanksgiving, and occasional Thursday night games that now air on cable" (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 10/13). DECADE: On Sunday, NBC's Will McDonough reported that NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue and NFLPA Exec Dir Gene Upshaw "have been talking about extending the current" CBA, "possibly to the year 2007" ("NFL on NBC," 10/12).
MLB owners "are leaning strongly toward settling for a scaled-down realignment plan" that would move the Brewers or Royals to the NL and shift the Tigers from the AL East to the AL Central for '98, according to sources of Mark Maske of the WASHINGTON POST. The plan, which would also put the expansion D'Backs in the NL West and the Devil Rays in the AL East, could be voted on during a conference call set for Wednesday. It "would leave the sport" with a 16-team NL and a 14-club AL. Sources told Maske that the owners plan to postpone further realignment at least until after the '98 season (WASHINGTON POST, 10/14). But Royals GM Herk Robinson doubted the report: "We have said as a club that unless there are substantial changes, it would be in our best interest to stay where we are" (K.C. STAR, 10/14). GET ALONG, GO ALONG: MLB officials "are becoming increasingly irritated" with MLBPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr's "repeated denunciation" of realignment. MLB's Labor Relations Chair Randy Levine said that the union has been kept "apprised" of realignment plans: "Even though this is something we don't have to bargain with the union, we have kept them informed from Day One." Levine also said that the owners "had the right" to terminate the DH without union approval (Bill Madden, N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/14). Fehr: "They're entitled to their opinion. The fact is that the self-imposed deadline is near, and we have no new information" (Larry Whiteside, BOSTON GLOBE, 10/14). Fehr said that geographical realignment could have a "negative effect" on players' earning potential. Fehr: "Would Nike be interested in Ken Griffey if he played exclusively west of the Mississippi?" (Peter Schmuck, Baltimore SUN, 10/14).
An ABL-record crowd of 12,683 attended Sunday's league opener of the Glory-Blizzard at the Hartford Civic Center (ABL)....In N.Y., Mike Wise writes that NBPA Exec Dir Billy Hunter has invited twenty of the "game's most prominent agents" to attend an agents advisory committee meeting on October 24 in New York to "discuss strategy" in the event that the NBA's CBA is reopened in April (N.Y. TIMES, 10/14).