SBD/Issue 2/Leagues & Governing Bodies

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  • More Names Surface In Search For Upshaw's Successor At NFLPA

    New names have "begun to surface as potential successors" to late NFLPA Exec Dir Gene Upshaw, including former NFLers Dave Duerson, Jamir Miller and Mike Kenn -- "all of whom were active in the union" -- and attorneys David Cornwell and Fred Nance, according to Liz Mullen of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. It is unclear what potential candidates "had been contacted" by the NFLPA, but Nance, who was a finalist for the NFL Commissioner position that ultimately went to Roger Goodell, said, "I will confirm I did get a couple of calls with people associated with the players union on the subject." Cornwell said his "present intention ... is to continue to work on behalf of NFL players." Mullen reports many players "think Upshaw's successor should be a former player, as Upshaw was." Miller, who served as an NFLPA player rep for the Browns, sent an e-mail to current player reps indicating that he was "officially campaigning for the job." Miller: "I am running." Sources said that former NFLPA Presidents Trace Armstrong and Troy Vincent, as well as former exec committee member Robert Smith, "continue to be considered leading player candidates." Meanwhile, NFLPA outside counsel Jeffrey Kessler, NFL Exec VP/Football Operations Ray Anderson, former NFLPA Assistant Exec Dir Doug Allen, who now serves as Screen Actors Guild Exec Dir, and MLBPA Associate Counsel Mike Weiner have all "said that they will not pursue the job" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 9/15 issue). Vincent said that he "would not comment on whether he will seek Upshaw's position until the players 'believe I am a viable candidate'" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 9/15 issue).

    Miller Only Candidate Openly
    Campaigning For Position
    LINEBACKER BLITZ: In a special to THE DAILY, Mullen reports Miller has unveiled a political platform which includes the union opening an entertainment office in L.A. as part of his bid to succeed Upshaw. Miller said that out of the proposed new L.A. office, “The NFLPA will seek to create its own programming for TV, film, the web, or any other appropriate medium, working with established entertainment entities.” Miller also proposed a mentor program and new financial and health plans for the union. A number of players and others in sports are believed to be seeking the position that Upshaw held for 25 years before his unexpected death August 29, but Miller seems to be the only one who is actively and openly campaigning for the position. Miller, founder of Phoenix-based Hosanna Foods, sent out an e-mail to some members of the NFLPA’s exec committee in July, prior to Upshaw’s death, stating his interest in succeeding Upshaw and bringing change to the union. Miller is being advised by Len Sherman, an author and documentary filmmaker, who is also the literary agent to former White House anti-terrorism czar Richard Clark. Sherman said Miller is different from other candidates in that he declared his candidacy before Upshaw’s death, and he is the only one to propose a number of new policies for the NFLPA (THE DAILY).

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  • Gretzky Expects Another NHL Franchise In Ontario, Not Winnipeg

    Gretzky Expects Southern
    Ontario To Land NHL Team
    Coyotes Managing Partner & coach Wayne Gretzky Friday said that he "expects to one day see another [NHL franchise] in southern Ontario ... but painted a more somber picture of a new team settling in the west," according to Adrian Humphreys of the NATIONAL POST. Gretzky: "I definitely one day see Hamilton or Kitchener having a [NHL] team. It is one of those things where there is so much red tape. I'm not sure it is a question of the city itself or the Toronto area or the Buffalo area trying to stake claim to the fans and the corporate sponsorships that they sort of have at this point in time." But Gretzky "did not seem to hold out the same enthusiasm for Winnipeg's chances of boasting an NHL team again." Gretzky: "I'm sure the people of Winnipeg would shell out 15-16,000 every single night -- but it has to do more with the corporate end of things and the commercial side of hockey" (NATIONAL POST, 9/13). The GLOBE & MAIL's Andrew Willis noted there are 42 public companies with HQs in Winnipeg, but "only a handful have the financial heft needed to step up for the high-end corporate boxes on which major sports teams now depend for revenue" (GLOBE & MAIL, 9/13).

    RUSSIAN REALITY: NHLPA Exec Dir Paul Kelly indicated that Predators RW Alexander Radulov, who in July signed with Russia's Continental Hockey League (KHL) club Salavat Yulaev Ufa, is "having second thoughts about his move." In Edmonton, Jim Matheson cited a source as saying that Radulov "will stay one season in Ufa, then return" to the NHL. Radulov will owe the Predators a "year at his current salary for bolting but will likely get a rich new extension in Nashville" (EDMONTON JOURNAL, 9/14). Meanwhile, in Boston, Kevin Paul Dupont reported Flames LW Marcus Nilson reportedly is "attempting to hook on with" the KHL. Nilson's agent J.P. Barry said the Flames "are being good about this." Dupont: "The NHL is arguing that Radulov has a binding deal to play with the Predators and believes the KHL must honor the player's commitment to Nashville. Well, Nilson has a binding deal to play with Calgary, but it's OK for him to go the route that the league wants to deny Radulov? Hello to the goose and the gander. ... Even if the Flames are OK with his 'defection,' it appears Nilson running off to [KHL club CSKA Moscow] would only introduce a troubling shade of gray to the process" (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/14).

    MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING? Gretzky said that he does not believe the KHL "poses a threat to the NHL." Gretzky: "The bottom line is there's only one [NHL]. ... If you can't play with the best and against the best it's just not the same" (CP, 9/13). The GLOBE & MAIL's Eric Duhatschek wrote, "If all the [KHL] does is woo away the Ladislav Nagys and John Grahames and Chris Simons -- players who've run out of NHL options -- then it isn't going to pose much of a threat. If it ups the ante in years to come -- and the two leagues continue to adopt a Cold War-style of diplomacy with one another -- the competition for players could get interesting" (GLOBE & MAIL, 9/13).

    MAKING HIS MARK: The GLOBE & MAIL's David Shoalts writes the pension court battle between the NHL and the NHLPA will be a "watershed moment" for Kelly. It is not important that Kelly "wins the fight, only that he is willing to wage it," as by doing so, he "should satisfy a small but influential group of his members who remain suspicious of anything that smacks of a cozy relationship with the NHL." Union sources have indicated that the players are "keeping a close eye on Kelly," as they "do not want to see any sign of overt chumminess with management." However, the pension dispute "could satisfy the hardliners that Kelly is his own man, ready to go to war for the players, but at the same time not provoke a major war that might derail the gravy train for the moderates" (GLOBE & MAIL, 9/15).

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  • League Notes

    In Miami, Michelle Kaufman reported La Liga club FC Barcelona is "looking to launch a sister team in Miami in conjunction" with MLS. A Barcelona spokesperson said that President Joan LaPorta and CEO Joan Olive last week were in the Miami area "exploring the market but stressed that talks of starting a U.S. team are in the preliminary stages." LaPorta and Olive also visited N.Y. and are "weighing a few East Coast cities" (MIAMI HERALD, 9/14).

    LEARNING FROM HISTORY: With yesterday marking the one-year anniversary of the Patriots' Spygate scandal, CBS' Charley Casserly reported the NFL this offseason "hired personnel from federal agencies whose job it was to protect our embassies from wire-tapping." Casserly: "What’s happening at stadiums during these games is first of all, we have personnel that people, that the teams are not even going to know are there and … checking to see if the frequency between the coach/player system is being disturbed deliberately.” The NFL personnel can also check to see if “players are wrongfully being miked” and they will be “able to listen in to the coach/player communication system to see when that cutoff switch goes off in 15 seconds is it being bypassed." Also, "more aggressive checks of locker rooms, players’ equipment and coaches’ booths” are taking place (“The NFL Today,” CBS, 9/14).

    Has Beckham Elevated
    Soccer's Status In U.S.?
    MORE THAN JUST HYPE? In K.C., Joe Posnanski wrote, "I'm not exactly sure what we were supposed to get out of the whole [Galaxy MF] David Beckham experience." Has Beckham "made soccer any more vibrant in America?" SI's Grant Wahl: "I think he has proven that he's definitely a celebrity, and people are fascinated by him. But I don't think it has carried over to the rest of the league" (K.C. STAR, 9/14).

    DAVYDENKO CLEARED: The ATP Friday cleared Nikolay Davydenko of charges that he fixed a match last summer. The ATP said that it "found no evidence of wrongdoing" by Davydenko, his opponent, Martin Vassallo Arguello, or "anyone else associated with their match." The ATP in a statement said it has "now exhausted all avenues of inquiry open to it, and the investigation is now concluded" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/13).

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