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SBD/Issue 238/NFL Season PreviewPrint All
Goodell Discusses Issues Facing
NFL On "Costas Now" Interview
MORE FROM GOODELL: Goodell indicated that he has “no knowledge that any other NFL personnel are involved in an Internet drug operation being investigated” by the Albany (NY) District Attorney's office. Goodell: "We have been in touch with them for several months now, working with them, and we have responded, reacted and dealt with all of these issues." The investigation led to this week’s suspensions of Patriots S Rodney Harrison and Cowboys assistant Wade Wilson, both of whom admitted to using HGH (AP, 9/5). Goodell, in an interview earlier this week with ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, said it bothers him that he is perceived as the “heavy-handed commissioner.” Goodell: “I certainly don’t rule the roost at home, and it’s hard for people to understand that.” Goodell: “It’s one of the reasons I’ve gone out to our clubs to meet with our players because I think there is a misperception of how I approach this job. I think that’s valuable to me” (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 9/4).
HOW HE'S PERCEIVED: Miami Herald columnist Dan Le Batard said of Goodell, “I perceive him as a headhunter, a pelt collector.” But ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser said, “I think he understands the value of public relations. He’s going around and he’s going to say to the players, ‘Look, I’m making this a better league for everybody who’s in it by getting rid of people for a brief time – not forever – ... who don’t belong in it and don’t understand it’s a privilege to be in it” (“PTI,” ESPN, 9/5). In S.F., Gwen Knapp wonders if Goodell is “visionary, reactionary or the jock world’s Wyatt Earp-meets- Potter Stewart.” He has “smudged the boundaries between on- and off-duty activity, and the distinction between arrest and conviction. ... It’s a risky job” (S.F. CHRONICLE, 9/6). In Ft. Worth, Randy Galloway writes under the header, “Goodell Doesn’t Back Off Message, Regardless.” Galloway: “Goodell totally overreacted by giving Wilson a five-game suspension, plus a $100,00 fine” (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 9/6).
Suggs Says Goodell's Conduct
Policy Has Attention Of Players
NOTHING STICKS TO TEFLON: In N.Y., Gary Myers wrote under the header, “Bad Behavior Tainting NFL’s Image.” But Sportscorp President Marc Ganis said, “There has not been much negative impact [from the off-the-field issues], certainly not much long-term negative impact. The perception is the NFL is being proactive and actually dealing with societal problems that are impossible to deal with and taking stronger action than even law enforcement.” Myers wrote the NFLPA “has been riding shotgun with Goodell,” as the union “wants to get rid of the players who have been dragging everybody else down as much as Goodell does" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 9/5). In Toronto, Stephen Brunt writes the NFL “rolls through the muck and mire and nothing sticks to its shiny surface.” NFL consumers “are more than happy to accept performance-enhancing drugs as an integral, if slightly tawdry, part of the business.” And it is “no stretch to argue that the Vick scandal might in the end strengthen the NFL’s brand.” Goodell “decisively throws Vick over the side, without a hint of protest from the tame players union, and is hailed as a moral crusader,” and other issues like steroid use “are lost in the hoopla as another season begins and the cash flows in like the tide” (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 9/6). In DC, Michael Wilbon wrote, “Ultimately, it doesn't matter whether a star quarterback is headed to a federal penitentiary, or whether the clean-cut defensive back with all the championship rings admits to taking human growth hormone. The arrests, the suspensions, the missteps are mostly forgotten -- if not forgiven -- as long as teams kick it off the week after Labor Day. Nothing in sports seduces Americans the way the [NFL] does” (WASHINGTON POST, 9/5).
The NFL enters its second season under the direction of Commissioner Roger Goodell after a tumultuous offseason that has centered, more often than not, around player behavior issues. THE DAILY’s Jon Show spoke with SI’s Peter King and NFL Network’s Adam Schefter about some of the key issues facing the league this season. Today we offer part one of the discussion; see tomorrow's issue for part two.
Q: What are the most important issues facing the NFL this season?
Schefter: There was so much focus on player conduct during the offseason that I think that everybody, quite frankly, right now is ready to get onto the football aspect of things. There was so much attention to non-football stories that had some kind of tie into football that I think people have had enough of Pacman Jones and Tank Johnson and Chris Henry and Michael Vick. They just want to watch some games. Aren’t sports supposed to be an escape? Beyond that, the first regular season game being played in London and the NFL is going to make a big effort and a big push to broaden its international reach and scope.
Ditka Looking To Change NFL's
Benefits For Retired Players
Q: Peter, if you could get your hands on Roger’s priority list, where do you think concussions and disability concerns would rank?
King: Both of them would be in the top five. [But] I think one of the things he has to be concerned with today is the fact that there is a segment of our society who looks at the NFL player as a thug. And I think he is concerned about that very, very much. ... I think what concerns him is that this is our business, and we have to make sure that there is a public trust in our business. When I asked Gene Upshaw about this last year, he said, ‘I went and talked to all the players last year’ -- and I thought this was a very telling and gruff comment from a union leader to his rank and file -- ‘We have a great thing going here. Everybody is making a lot of money, we’re all living very comfortably, and the only ones who can screw it up are you guys.’ That’s what he said to 32 teams last year and I think that right now, even though I don’t think they’re in any danger of screwing it up, I do think that at some point, Miller beer and Ford Motor Co. and Lexus and Budweiser are all going to start saying, ‘Do I want to be advertising with people who kill dogs, go into strip clubs in Las Vegas and get into ruckuses that leave a guy paralyzed.’ This is something that the league is hugely concerned with right now.
Q: Adam, are player conduct issues threatening the NFL brand and its corporate base?
Schefter: I don’t see that now, but if there were a prevalent number of incidents over time I’d say yes. But I think that we’re seeing a commissioner take a hard line stance on these things and that is bringing more attention to them. There have been off-the-field incidents, but in the world that we live in where there is so much coverage of the league on the Internet and TV and magazines and everywhere. There is more attention to this in the offseason because it’s become a 24/7 league. I would venture to tell you there’s always been some of this stuff that’s gone on in the offseason, it’s just that now it’s getting more attention. And a lot of it’s attention that the commissioner has brought to the league because he wants to clean it up.
Writers Believe Vick Situation Unlikely
To Overshadow NFL Season
King: I think it will (until the season starts). I interviewed three fantasy football players this weekend. One from Massachusetts ...
Schefter: Peter, is that what you’re job is now? You’re interviewing fantasy football players?
King: (laughs) That’s exactly what I’m doing. That’s all I do because that’s all anybody cares about is fantasy football. I interviewed one from Massachusetts, one from Colorado and one from Florida. One of the things I asked them was who is going to take Michael Vick’s place on the Sunday night highlights. And one of the guys said, ‘Listen, the first night of the season when I sit down to watch all the highlights, I’m not going to be thinking about Michael Vick, I’m going to be thinking about the games.’ I think that’s the way fans are. This is not the Wall Street Journal that we’re working for. We’re not covering the (Alberto) Gonzales resignation in the Bush cabinet. This if fun and games, and when it’s time for the games to start, the fans are going to want their detour into fun.
Schefter: This goes back to the initial point that we were talking about on the issue that awaits the NFL this coming season. It’s football; it’s getting back to football.
Q: Assess Roger Goodell’s first year on the job.
Panel Feels Goodell Has Done Excellent
Job In First Year As Commissioner
King: It’s funny, I think he started the year having no idea that by the end of his first year, two of his biggest three problems were going to concern dog fighting and the physical condition of retired players. As he told me, it’s a different thing every day in this job.
Schefter: And the third issue is making it rain!
King: I think he’s done a very good job of grabbing onto this job and not separating himself from Paul Tagliabue in a ‘Tagliabue-wasn’t-doing-the-job’ way. But separating himself in a way that was, ‘I see the biggest problem that we have is retaining public trust in our game. I am not going to let this little slide by people like Pacman Jones and Michael Vick make people not trust this game. So I’m going to act very proactively on this.’ And I think that’s what he’s done. I think he’s had a very good first year.
Schefter: I don’t know how his first year could have been much better. I think that the fans feel like he’s one of them. That he would make a decision that fans would make.
King: Yeah, I was on an elliptical trainer about three weeks ago and these two guys couldn’t stop talking about their fantasy teams and one of them said to the other one, ‘Hey, are you going to draft Vick?’ And the guy said, ‘No, I ain’t taking Vick.’ And he goes, ‘How about the job Goodell has done.’ That shocked me. I think Adam’s right, I think people feel like he is reacting like, ‘Who are these guys to screw up the chance of a lifetime?’
Schefter: Paul Tagliabue did a great, great job, but I think he gave off the feeling that he was above the game. He’s so smart -- and not to say Roger’s not -- but he was detached from it a little bit. You get the feeling that Roger is one of the fans, and you didn’t get that with Paul.
King: They’re different people, but I think Roger is just about as careful in his public pronouncements as Tagliabue was.
Q: Do you think owners are going to opt out of the current CBA in ’09?
Schefter: With those types of things I think you never know exactly how they’re going to go. You heard rattling of the sabers before that it wouldn’t get done, but it did get done. I don’t know if the owners will opt out, or extend it or have a deal waiting in place, but there’s so much money in it now for the players, the owners; the fans like it so much. Forgive me for being naïve and pragmatic and maybe idealistic, but I think that so many people have so much invested in it that they’re not going to let anything get in the way of that.
King: I would agree with you, but I would also argue that bright minds may have to be coerced by first opting out of this deal.
Q: Can the current group of NFL owners come together on revenue sharing?
King: There’s going to have to be some crossover. There’s going to have to be an olive branch to the Ralph Wilsons, because I don’t think right now without some sort of major compromise that the small market teams will go for any sort of revenue sharing plan that is put forth by a Jerry Jones or a Dan Snyder.
Schefter: There is a clear division there of the haves and the have-nots, and there’s going to have to be some sort of common ground where they meet.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell tops SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL's list of the 20 most influential people in the NFL. Goodell earned the No. 1 spot for, among other things, his "audacious moves against player off-the-field conduct," settling the revenue-sharing dispute among owners and cutting NFL Europa. The following is the complete list (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 9/3 issue).RKOFFICIAL1)NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell2)
NFLPA Exec Dir Gene Upshaw3) ESPN/ABC Sports President George Bodenheimer4) Patriots Owner Robert Kraft5) Fox Sports TV Group Chair & CEO David Hill6) Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones7) CBS News & Sports President Sean McManus8) Panthers Owner Jerry Richardson9) Steelers Chair Dan Rooney10) NFL Network President & CEO and NFL Exec VP/New Media Steve Bornstein11) NBC Universal Sports & Olympics Chair Dick Ebersol12) Anheuser-Busch VP/Global Media & Sports Marketing Tony Ponturo13) NFL Exec VP/Finance & Strategic Transactions Eric Grubman14) NFLPA outside counsel Jeffrey Kessler15) DirecTV President & CEO Chase Carey16) CAA agent Tom Condon17) NFL Exec VP & CAO Jeff Pash18) Comcast Chair & CEO Brian Roberts19) EA CEO John Riccitiello20) ESPN analyst Mike Ditka
Giants, Jets Unveil Design Plans For New Stadium
REVENUE DRIVERS: Giants co-Owner John Mara "said he'd like to have [naming rights] settled by some time" in '08. In Westchester, Ernie Palladino notes the teams "hope to get more than" the $20M annually over 20 years the Mets got from Citigroup for Citi Field (JOURNAL NEWS, 9/6). Giants and Jets officials said that they had "not determined ticket prices for the new stadium or whether the teams would charge" a PSL. Mara noted each team will make its own decision on PSLs, adding, "I've always wanted to avoid it, but we just haven't decided yet." Asked whether a naming rights deal might take the pressure off the teams to charge PSLs, Jets President Jay Cross said, "I think if you're a season ticket holder, you'll have to recognize that this is the most expensive stadium ever built and the largest financing ever undertaken. So everything we do is to help to mitigate the high costs" (Bergen RECORD, 9/6).
THE GREENS AND BLUES: In N.Y., Singer & Sanderson note the 82,500-seat stadium will feature a “great wall” with 400-foot-long-by-40-foot-high panels that will be blue for Giants’ home games and green for Jets’ home games. Giants Chair & Exec VP Steve Tisch: “You will definitely know which team is the home team.” The parking area will include a 300,000-square-foot tailgating plaza with food and drink concessions, rest rooms and pregame entertainment areas. The two main concourses will feature team stores and “themed activities” for sponsors. There will be about 200 skyboxes, and open-air seating will be offered on three levels. Front-row seats will be just 46 feet from the sidelines, and a field club between the 40-yard line will offer “even closer views.” The stadium will also have four jumbo video screens measuring 40 feet tall by 130 feet wide that will function as scoreboards, while an additional dozen 16-by-9-foot screens will be spread around the concourses and the outside plaza and 2,500 HD displays will be spread around the rest of the stadium (N.Y. POST, 9/6).
WALSH: The 49ers will add late coach Bill Walsh to the team’s ring of honor and show a video and pictorial tribute during halftime of its Monday night game against the Cardinals. Walsh will be an honorary team captain for the game, and the team will wear their throwback uniforms. The national anthem will be sung by the Glide Memorial Ensemble, the choir that sang at Walsh’s memorial service. Fans will receive a Walsh poster when they exit the stadium, and the commemorative game-day program will be devoted to the late coach (AP, 9/6).
Jaguars Have Covered Some Upper Deck
Seats To Help Prevent TV Blackouts
COST-CUTTING: SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL'S Dan Kaplan reports Jaguars Marketing Dir Jennifer Perkins and Exec Dir of Ticket Sales Scott Loft “were let go” by the Jaguars on August 20. The moves come as the team "has struggled to fill its stadium and the league’s year-old labor deal has eaten a far greater share of NFL team revenue than did the previous deal.” A team spokesperson “did not blame the moves on the [CBA], but instead on the larger economy, even pointing out that the local newspaper in Jacksonville had just laid off 60 people” (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 9/3 issue). In a Q&A with Alan Schmadtke of the ORLANDO SENTINEL, Weaver said of the moves, "You know how you make an organization more productive? You flatten it. You make people that are responsible more accountable for day-to-day operations” (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 9/6). ESPN.com’s Len Pasquarelli wrote the Jaguars have reportedly "lost money three times in this decade," and their fan base "has waned enough that [Weaver] was forced a few seasons ago” to begin covering some seats in Jacksonville Municipal Stadium to avoid blackouts. Two years ago, 30% of the team’s season-ticket holders did not renew, 25% this year. The team is also reportedly carrying $110M in debt service (ESPN.com, 8/31).
Falcons Entering Season With
Over 60,000 Season Tickets
THE DAILY continues “Spons-o-Meter,” a comprehensive list of the official corporate partners of various leagues, governing bodies and events. Today: The NFL. NFL corporate partnership benefits vary from deal to deal, but they typically include category exclusivity, use of league marks for advertising and promotional purposes, event signage, media exposure through radio, print and TV ads, as well as various hospitality benefits. For sponsorship inquiries please contact Senior VP/Partnership Marketing & Corporate Sales Peter Murray at 212-450-2000 (THE DAILY).SPONSORCATEGORYSINCENews AmericaSuper Bowl FSI'79GatoradeIsotonic Beverage'83CanonCameras & Equipment, Binoculars/Field Glasses'84VisaPayment Systems Services'95Southwest AirlinesAirline'97
Campbell's Soup Soup, Canned Pasta, Canned Sauce, Salsa, Chili'98 Motorola Telecommunications Hardware'99 FedEx Worldwide Package Delivery Service'00 Frito-Lay Salted Snack/Popcorn/Peanuts/Dips'00 GM Car & Passenger Truck'01 Coors Brewing Beer'02 Masterfoods Chocolate & Non-Chocolate Confectionary'02 Diet Pepsi Soft Drinks'02 Tropicana Juice'02 Dairy Management Dairy, Milk, Yogurt, Cheese'03 IBM Computer Hardware, Software, & IT Services'03 Burger King QSR'05 Procter & Gamble (Prilosec) Heartburn Medication'05 Sprint Wireless Telecommunication Service'05 Samsung HDTV, Home Theater, TVs, VCRs,
DVD Players & Recorders'05
State Farm Insurance'06 Home Depot Home Improvement'07 Bank of America U.S. Retail Banking Services'07
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PERSONALIZED PEYTON: MasterCard is rolling out new ads featuring Colts QB Peyton Manning. Two spots, "Social Life" and "Spouse Fight," will debut during tonight's opener. The campaign is handled by McCann Erickson, N.Y. (THE DAILY). IMG's Alan Zucker said of the notion that Manning is overexposed, "We don't feel that as an organization at IMG that he is doing too much and he doesn't feel like he's doing too much. He really feels like he can handle what he has and that the brands that he represents are not conflicting with each other. ... We've turned down a couple of things when Peyton decides that it's not something that's the right fit for him (Rovell, CNBC.com, 9/6). To view the new Visa and MasterCard ads, visit SportsBusinessDaily.com.
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TEAM BONDING: AirTran Airways VP Marketing Tad Hutcheson said that the airline has selected Falcons LB Keith Brooking to replace QB Michael Vick in their fall ad campaign in Atlanta. AirTran's contract with Vick "expired in May and, amid the dogfighting case and other controversies, was not renewed." AirTran, which has about "100 athletes and entertainers as endorsers in various local markets," will continue its endorsement deal with RB Warrick Dunn. Dunn and Brooking will appear on nine billboards throughout Atlanta, as well as "on radio spots and in some print and on-line advertising" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 9/2).
GREEN WITH ENVY: Packers QB Brett Favre is still tops among Packers jersey sales, but LB A.J. Hawk is "breathing down his neck and [WR] Donald Driver is right behind them." Lambeau Field gear "is in demand this season, too, as the team marks the 50th anniversary" of its move to the stadium, and will market commemorative items around that (GREEN BAY PRESS-GAZETTE, 9/5).
NBC'S NEW APPROACH: ADWEEK’s Joan Voight notes that on the new ads for NBC’s "Sunday Night Football," there is "a heavy emphasis on the ‘Sunday night’ part, but not so much the ‘football,'" as NBC attempts to "generate the broader viewership it needs -- particularly among young adults.” Working with Jump Asociates, San Mateo, the net sent members of its marketing team into nine living rooms of people in their twenties to observe them watching football at home. The marketers and consultants then convened in an office “decorated to look like a typical living room.” NBC Universal Sports & Olympics VP/Strategic Marketing & Communications Mike McCarley said that the living room setting got network execs “into the mood and mind-set of their target audience.” McCarley said that those insights “resulted in the branding strategy that unfolded this summer,” the tagline, “Sunday Night is football night,” and an "entertainment-oriented position." McCarley: “We realized that watching sports on a weekend night is a social and interactive activity for TV viewers.” McCarley also indicated that SNF “is not competing with ['MNF'], as many people assumed. Its real rivals are the Sunday daytime games and evening TV programming” such as ABC’s “Desperate Housewives,” Fox’ “The Simpsons,” and CBS’ “60 Minutes” (ADWEEK, 9/3).
ESPN: ESPN is running a new integrated marketing campaign, via Wieden & Kennedy, N.Y., to air primarily on ABC and ESPN promoting "MNF." The campaign includes seven TV spots, including the spot that ran during preseason games featuring players such as Saints RB Reggie Bush, Bengals WR Chad Johnson and Chargers TE Antonio Gates humming the MNF theme (ADWEEK, 9/4). The “Lucky For Us, They Chose Football” marketing campaign for ESPN’s “Sunday NFL Countdown,” also via Wieden & Kennedy, N.Y., launched this week highlighting the chemistry among Chris Berman, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson, Keyshawn Johnson, Emmitt Smith, and Chris Mortensen. The three TV spots show the team hosting mock studio shows for activities such as pottery, motorcycle maintenance and landscaping (ESPN).
The NFL is entering the second year of its most recent TV deals, and has also renewed some previous one-year deals for the '07 season. The NFL and Yahoo agreed to a one-year renewal for NFL Game Pass, a service that allows football fans in Europe, Asia, South America, Australia and Africa to watch regular-season games live on the Web. The NFL and iTunes also agreed to a one-year deal whereby fans will have access to '07 regular-season highlights packages, NFL GameDay from NFL Network and historical Super Bowl videos on iTunes, as well as have access to NFL Replay, which replays the weekend's five best games on NFL Network. Additionally, the NFL is near a deal with Sling Media to become the latest partner for the Clip+Sling video-sharing service, according to well-placed industry sources. The following presents NFL media deals going into the '07 regular season (THE DAILY).NFL MEDIA RIGHTS DEALSRIGHTS-HOLDERTOTAL RIGHTS FEEAVG. ANNUAL VALUECONTRACT PERIODESPN$8.8B$1.1B2006-2013Fox$4.27B$712.5M2006-2011CBS$3.73B$622.5M2006-2011NBC$3.6B$600.0M2006-2011DirecTV$3.5B$700.0M2006-2010Sprint$600.0M$12.0M2005-2009EA Sports$300.0M$60.0M2005-2009Sirius Satellite Radio$220.0M$31.4M2004-2010Westwood One$120.0M$30.0M2005-2008iTunes (Apple)n/an/a2007Yahoon/an/a2007
TIKI TORCH: In "Tiki: My Life in the Game and Beyond," to be released September 18, NBC analyst and former Giants RB Tiki Barber revealed, "If Tom Coughlin had not remained as head coach of the Giants, I might still be in a Giants uniform." Barber wrote Coughlin "robbed me of what had been one of the most important things I had in my life, which was the joy I felt playing football." Barber also wrote that the Giants "shorted him about $10[M] over his career" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 9/4).
SUPER SELLER: SI.com's Peter King noted Colts coach Tony Dungy's book, "Quiet Strength," enters its 8th printing this week, "which means that 480,000 books will have been printed." It is the most popular sports book since "Seabiscuit" in '01, and has "confirmed sales of just under 250,000 today," which is "86,000 more than recent coaching biographies of Lou Holtz, Charlie Weis, Jon Gruden and Marv Levy." In addition, the book "has now sold twice as many books as David Halberstam's 2005 book on Bill Belichick" (SI.com, 9/3). In Indianapolis, Mark Montieth writes Dungy "has become one of the most popular sports figures in America." Montieth: "Dungy is regarded as a beacon of decency in a harsh, violent industry, a man who stands for something beyond winning football games. ... A lot of people who don't care for football care for him." The Davie Brown index ranks Dungy in the "top 15 of the 900 people it ranks for overall appeal, putting him on a level with actors such as Tom Hanks and Morgan Freeman." He ranks among sports figures second only to Hank Aaron (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 9/6).
Q: What is the toughest stadium in the NFL to kick in?
Karlis: I would have to go with Giants Stadium. Buffalo is tough, but I always had success there despite how bad it was. I swear that [Giants Stadium] crew opens those doors up at one end, depending on who’s kicking.
Q: You’re famed as the last full-time barefoot kicker in the NFL. Will we ever see the return of barefoot kicking, or is it gone forever?
Karlis: I think there’s always a chance it might come back. I saw [Rams K Jeff Wilkins] at a game here, and he said, “I’m doing a tribute to you today.” Then he said, “Well, not quite,” because he had some kind of wrap on his foot. A guy named Paul McFadden worked with Wilkins at Youngstown State. Wilkins tinkered with it a little bit, but he never really stuck with it.
Q: So he was doing it as an homage, like Doug Flutie with the drop-kick a couple years back?
Karlis: No, I think he was probably struggling with his kicking at the time and got desperate.
Q: You have your own instructional video, “The Kicking Game.” What was the most enjoyable aspect of that project?
Karlis: How did you know about that? That was probably the most expensive kicking video ever produced, and the ROI on it has been grossly negative. I think a buddy of mine talked me into doing it in ’85. It was really the right idea, there just wasn’t a distribution channel for it. My boss is dying to get her hands on that. Other than the fashion being outdated on it, [the most fun part] was the people I did it with. I had a buddy of mine do the writing, who I’d done some radio with here in Denver, and he was just a crack-up. The hardest part was how many kicks I actually kicked on a very hot day at the University of Colorado. As far as the fundamentals, though, it was pretty well done.
Q: Your first title at Qwest was Community Relations Dir. Around the industry, what do you want to see more of when it comes to corporate involvement in community service?
Karlis: The thing I like about Qwest is we have a real passion about being involved in our community, whether it’s sitting on a non-profit board, if it’s volunteering, if it’s our matching time program, which recognizes an employee if they donate 60 hours of time over six months [by writing] a check for $500 to that non-profit. There’s a real incentive to be involved, and there’s a culture here of being active in our communities. I guess I would like to see more companies model that.
Q: In November, Qwest walked away from its sponsorship deal with the Broncos. What was that like for you, having played for the team?
Karlis: I think I’m pretty good at removing myself as a fan or as a former player. I think it’s somewhat of an advantage because I understand the business in a different way. The Broncos brand is by far the strongest brand in this region, and it’s certainly one that we would like to have been able to have in our sponsorship portfolio. But we’ve developed the last four years a pretty disciplined approach to how we evaluate sponsorship. If all the pieces align, we do the deal. If they don’t, we shake hands and we’ll try it again next time.
Q: Qwest has sponsorships with the NLL Colorado Mammoth and Portland LumberJax. A lot of people say lacrosse is the next big thing. Are you one of those people?
Karlis: It’s very intriguing. The Mammoth have had incredible success here [at the Pepsi Center], if not selling it out, close to sell-outs since they’ve gotten here. Watching the development on the youth side of it here definitely created interest in us checking out the team in Portland, which is another hotbed for youth lacrosse. We’re always looking to make those connections. Portland was a little bit tough because there’s not a tremendous amount of teams out there, so when we were looking at different opportunities, the LumberJax seemed like a good place to invest.
Q: What are you looking at as the next hot property?
Karlis: We don’t really look nationally at things. We look at them more as a localized opportunity. In February, we announced our deal with USA Hockey, which we’re really excited about. It provides us with the opportunity to message specific to our 14-state region. They have a very current database, and hockey in the west is really starting to grow. So we have a real grassroots opportunity with USA Hockey, and also as the title sponsor of the women’s national team. Great athletes and great women. They get their degrees. They really love the game. They’re definitely not playing for the money. So they have a real passion for the game, and we think it maps really well to our 14-state region. And it allows us to show our support for women’s athletics. Men’s pro sports deliver the highest attendance, but we’re always looking for how to diversify our portfolio in a smart way.
Q: Wrap around question from New Era VP/Brand Communication John DeWaal: What makes a true sports hero?
Karlis: Someone that is humble, focused on the team success, and is always willing to put himself second; allows others to shine the light on him instead of shining the light on him or herself.
Q: Your wrap around question: What makes the ideal fan experience?
Karlis: What makes the ideal fan experience?
On StubHub, Sunday's Bears-Chargers game is averaging the highest price among all Week One NFL home openers at $247, with the Eagles-Packers close behind at $246. With Michael Vick no longer the Falcons' main attraction, the price for the home opener in Minnesota ranks last on Stubhub. On TicketsNow, the NFL Kickoff game tonight between the Saints and Colts is averaging the highest price at $268.73, with the Eagles-Pakcers again coming in second ($246.91). As the NFL heads into Week One of the '07 regular season, the following presents ticket prices for each home game from StubHub and TicketsNow (THE DAILY).SECONDARY MARKET TICKET PRICE AVERAGES
FOR WEEK ONE NFL GAMES(As of 9/5)GAME (AWAY-HOME)STUBHUBTICKETSNOWBears-Chargers$247.00$221.46Eagles-Packers$246.00$246.91Patriots-Jets$200.00$208.80
Saints-Colts$196.00$268.73 Dolphins-Redskins$173.00$189.08 Ravens-Bengals$172.00$222.90 Steelers-Browns$156.00$149.29 Giants-Cowboys$144.00$161.47 Buccaneers-Seahawks$137.00$124.04 Cardinals-49ers$126.00$121.47 Lions-Raiders$103.00$99.16 Chiefs-Texans$101.00$94.12 Broncos-Bills$92.00$99.45 Panthers-Rams$80.00$112.29 Titans-Jaguars$68.00$80.34 Falcons-Vikings$52.00$83.83