SBD/Issue 93/Leagues & Governing Bodies

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  • Colts' Polian Upset At NFL Making Players Attend Pro Bowl Events

    Polian Calls NFL's Pro Bowl Requirements
    "Stupid" And A "Distraction"
    Colts President Bill Polian Monday called the NFL requiring players from the two Super Bowl teams to travel to Miami to participate in Pro Bowl-related events “stupid” and a “distraction.” Polian noted the team will practice today through Friday, and the seven Pro Bowl players will have Saturday off. Polian: “If it weren’t for the Pro Bowl disruption, they would have the weekend off, but they can’t because we have to send those players to Miami to do Lord knows what. We’ll come back and practice on Sunday and the Pro Bowl players will go and do whatever they have to do and then the team will leave on Monday.” When asked by ESPN Radio’s Dan Dakich if those players will fly to Miami and then fly back later on Sunday, Polian said, “I don’t know that they fly them back. I think they plan to keep them down there that evening. They haven’t even told us yet what this is all about. We don’t even have any details or anything like that.” Meanwhile, Colts DE Dwight Freeney injured his ankle late in the AFC Championship game Sunday, and Polian described his status for the Super Bowl as “optimistic.” He added Freeney will need some treatment, and that “enters into the Pro Bowl equation.” Polian: “Do we send him down there to stand around for three hours, or does he get treatment?” ("The Dan Dakich Show," ESPN Radio 1070 Indianapolis, 1/25). FOXSPORTS.com's Alex Marvez cited a source as saying that the Colts players "will leave at halftime to rejoin their ... teammates in Indianapolis" before flying back to Miami Monday morning. An NFL spokesperson said that the players "are allowed to leave the Pro Bowl at halftime after fulfilling media and television responsibilities." It is unclear if the seven Saints players "will stay for the entire Pro Bowl" (FOXSPORTS.com, 1/26).

    BOWLING FOR PLAYERS: In Miami, Adam Beasley wrote under the header, "NFL All-Star Game Not So Super." The Pro Bowl, which is being played the week before the Super Bowl for the first time, "still has some sizzle," but the conference championships "certainly took a few molars out of the Pro Bowl's bite." Colts and Saints players are exempt from playing in the game, and in addition to players replaced due to injury, just "29 of the original 44 position players chosen to be starters will be on the field." The game's talent level "has been significantly diluted," and the "drop-off in top-line stars won't do anything to help the lackluster interest in the Pro Bowl" (MIAMI HERALD, 1/26). In Honolulu, Ferd Lewis wrote the game is "becoming more of a junior varsity game, even as far as Pro Bowls go." Five of the six QBs originally selected to play in the game -- Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Brett Favre, Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers -- will not be on the active roster (HONOLULU ADVERTISER, 1/26). In Dallas, Rick Gosselin wrote there were 84 players initially named to the Pro Bowl rosters, and 31 players "not voted to the teams have since been added." Gosselin: "That's 115 players who will be walking around NFL locker rooms in 2010 with the designation 'Pro Bowler.' Kind of takes the luster off the honor, doesn't it?" (DALLASNEWS.com, 1/26). SPORTINGNEWS.com's Dan Levy: "They're all pros, but they're hardly All-Stars at this point" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 1/25).

    JUST END THE THING ALL TOGETHER: In Miami, Greg Cote wrote under the header, "No More Excuses: It's Time To Ditch The Pro Bowl." Cote: "It has become a sham. ... What is the point of having a Pro Bowl that supposedly is a legit all-star game if the best players from the best teams (in the Super Bowl) are automatically excluded, and so many others say no for no good reason?" (MIAMI HERALD, 1/24). In Pittsburgh, Bob Smizik wrote, "This is a game that should be eliminated starting yesterday," as the Pro Bowl "stands light years ahead of other all-star games for absolute nothingness." Smizik: "Anyone foolish enough to have purchased a ticket for this event, should be outraged by the assembled talent. [NFL Commissioner Roger] Goodell should be embarrassed" (POST-GAZETTE.com, 1/26). Dallas Morning News columnist Tim Cowlishaw said, "Moving it to before the Super Bowl, you just lose more players than all the players who beg out with injuries. It's a bad game" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 1/25).

    SOME FAR-FLUNG IDEAS: Denver Post columnist Woody Paige said, "There are ways to correct this problem, but playing it in South Florida before the Super Bowl is a gigantic, ridiculous mistake." Paige: "Move it to Hawaii (and) you blacklist the players if they don't show up. You don't let them get their Pro Bowl bonuses if they don't play in the game" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 1/25). Meanwhile, SPORTINGNEWS.com's Mike Florio wrote one "viable remedy exists for making it matter much more than it currently does. Play it in August." Florio: "Why not make the Pro Bowl the first game of the preseason instead of the last game of the postseason? It can be played in Canton, in place of or in addition to the Hall of Fame game. And though no one would confuse the northeastern corner of Ohio with the southeastern shores of Oahu, the carrot for the players wouldn't be a free vacation, but a free pass from training camp practices" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 1/25).

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  • NFL Not Holding News Conference SB Week To Discuss Labor Talks

    Murphy Not Giving Labor Update
    Next Week, As Reported Earlier
    The NFL will not hold a news conference in which Packers President & CEO Mark Murphy will discuss negotiations with the NFLPA for a new labor deal on the Thursday of Super Bowl week, the NFL said today. “We had considered holding a media briefing next week on the CBA, but since there has been little progress toward reaching an agreement we decided there was no need for one,” NFL Senior VP/Communications Greg Aiello said. “The commissioner will be available to the media on Friday (of Super Bowl week) to answer any CBA-related questions.” The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel had reported that Murphy, a current member of the NFL’s Management Council Exec Committee, would hold the media briefing to discuss “to discuss the slow pace of labor negotiations” on the same day the NFLPA is scheduled to hold its Super Bowl press conference. The NFLPA traditionally meets with the media on Thursday and the NFL traditionally holds its press conference on Friday of Super Bowl week. NFLPA Assistant Exec Dir of Extenal Affairs George Atallah said, "We are disappointed that they reconsidered the press briefing with Mr. Murphy because the players were looking forward to hearing from the Management Council's new spokesperson" (Liz Mullen, SportsBusiness Journal).

    THE INITIAL REPORT: In Milwaukee, Bob McGinn reported Murphy "will serve as the point man next week when [NFL] management holds a Super Bowl news conference to discuss the slow pace of labor negotiations." The briefing will be held February 4 in Ft. Lauderdale, the same day the NFLPA "traditionally holds its news conference at the Super Bowl." Murphy indicated that "other members of the executive committee will attend and at least one other member that he couldn't identify also would speak to reporters." Murphy said that he has been "present for the majority of the 11 negotiating sessions with NFLPA leaders since negotiation began last year" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 1/27).

    DEAL LOOKING BLEAK? Titans C and NFLPA President Kevin Mawae said it "looks very bleak" that a deal for a new CBA will be reached "before March of this year or the beginning of the new NFL season." Mawae: "Until we come to some terms of what's really important and what are the big issues in this deal it's going to be tough to get something done. The players are more united than ever before, and we're preparing for a lockout." NFL Exec VP & General Counsel Jeff Pash said, "What we're trying to accomplish here is to have an economic system ... that will allow us to look back 15 years from now and say that we, meaning the clubs and the players, were creative and thoughtful and laid the groundwork for the game to continue to grow." The AP's Barry Wilner noted if a deal is not reached by March, the '10 NFL season will be played without a salary cap, though the "crop of players available won't be as substantial as in previous, capped seasons." CAA Football co-Head Tom Condon also noted that "less money will be available." Condon: "Over the past three years, 90[%] or so of the NFL teams have not, on average, spent up to the salary cap. Now you have no floor, so you have teams that were required to spend to the floor who don't have to participate or can participate on a lower level" (AP, 1/26).

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  • NBA Owners May Slash Salaries Under New CBA; Is Lockout Likely?

    NBA team owners plan to "go for the jugular and drop the players' salaries immensely" during negotiations with the NBPA for a new CBA, according to sources cited by Chris Broussard of ESPN.com. The current CBA is set to expire after the '10-11 season, and a team owner said, "The owners are really going to chop the money down." A GM added, "Player salaries are definitely going to take a hit. Players that come up for contracts under the new CBA are going to find themselves getting a lot less money." Broussard noted it is "well-known that owners will try to shorten contracts" under the new agreement. A GM indicated that owners are "looking to shorten the maximum length of a contract to four or five years." He added that they have "actually discussed trying to guarantee only the first two years of a four-year deal, and that the third and fourth years would be guaranteed only if a player reached certain performance-based incentives." Broussard wrote in "other words, it would be closer to the NFL than to today's NBA." One GM said, "Is there a sentiment among some (owners) that they’d like to have it like football? Yeah. But I think that’s out of bounds." The team owner said, "There’s going to be a lockout. There’s not even a doubt in my mind about that." He added NBPA Exec Dir Billy Hunter is "not going to make a deal like that. Teams are already saving up money for a strike" (ESPN.com, 1/26).

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  • MLS, Union Officials Hold Extensive Talks Ahead Of Sunday Deadline

     
    MLS and MLS Players' Union officials "met for eight hours yesterday at league headquarters, and discussions are scheduled to resume" today over a new CBA, though "progress ... has been hard to track," according to Ridge Mahoney of SOCCER AMERICA. Some incentive to "cut a deal is certainly being provided by an expiration date of Jan. 31, this Sunday, for the current CBA, yet other forces are wielding influence as well." On the management side, while MLS Commissioner Don Garber and President Mark Abbott "present a united front, there's some sentiment among certain ownership groups to get a deal done while retaining the league's structure and philosophies." Meanwhile, the players "may have to give up on any form of free agency for the time being," but "adding a second fully guaranteed year to contracts would give the players some added security." Also, a "viable retirement plan along with incremental increases in the minimum salary and salary cap might be the best they can achieve this time around" (SOCCERAMERICA.com, 1/27). SOCCER BY IVES' Ives Galarcep cited sources as saying that “no deal is in place” for a new MLS CBA, and a deal is “still far from being completed.” Galarcep: “MLS can't afford to not get a deal done. ... Any suggestions or hints that a deal is already done or close to done are misleading." The league is "still holding firm on many major issues while the Players Union appears ready to fight hard for changes, at least fight much harder than it did in the last CBA, when MLS trampled a weak union and walked away with every concession and a league-friendly CBA” (SOCCERBYIVES.net, 1/27).

    DOWN TO THE WIRE: In San Diego, Mark Zeigler writes unless there is an "eleventh-hour accord" ahead of Sunday's deadline, the "most likely scenario is a players' lockout by the owners on Monday morning -- the first such labor stoppage in the league's 15-year history." Neither side is "talking much, respecting to a mutual media gag order, but snippets of sentiment have leaked out over the past few months as talks have grown more contentious." It is "not looking good," as several players and agents "privately say they consider a Feb. 1 lockout inevitable." Sounders G Kasey Keller wrote on his blog, "What's most disappointing to me is, this isn't a negotiation for a bunch of players wanting $8[M] a year instead of $7[M] a year. The main points revolve around us being given the same rights under FIFA as the rest of the players around the world" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 1/27). Philadelphia Union D Danny Califf: "To be honest, I don't think the demands of the players are unreasonable." Union D Jordan Harvey: "The good news is that both sides are talking, so I feel confident that if it doesn't happen (right away), it will." Union manager Peter Nowak: "We have had plans established for a few months in the event something (lockout-related) happens, but ultimately (as a team), it's not our decision" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 1/27).

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