Sources: Leiweke, MLSE Relationship Soured Classified Advertisements SEC Schools Aim To Improve In-Game Experience 49ers Replace Sod At Levi's Stadium Leiweke Made Big Impact On TFC, Raptors Little League Ratings Strong Again For ESPN NASCAR, ESPN Team Up For New Campaign SBJ In-Depth: NFL Preview 2014 Lambeau Field Rolls Out New Gameday Food Weekend Plans With WISE's Shelley Taniguchi
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Wilfork's New Contract With The Patriots
Makes Him One Of The Highest-Paid DTs
For all the "fuss about teams tightening purse strings on the first weekend of free agency" in the NFL, "new standards were set for contracts for edge rushers (Julius Peppers), 3-4 nose tackles (Vince Wilfork), and safeties (Antrel Rolle)," according to Albert Breer of the BOSTON GLOBE. In addition, deals for LB Karlos Dansby and CB Dunta Robinson "trumped blockbusters signed by positional counterparts Bart Scott and Asante Samuel" in '09 and '08, respectively. But NFL player agent Jason Chayut, who negotiated Robinson's contract with the Falcons, said, "I wasn't surprised by the top-tier guys at their positions getting paid; those guys are always going to get paid. The second-tier guys were the ones who will suffer" (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/7). CBSSPORTS.com's Pete Prisco wrote fiscal responsibility "seemed to give way to fiscal madness" at the start of free agency over the weekend. Money was "thrown around like some baseball teams do it." Prisco: "A free-agent group, which some personnel people said was the old, the lame and the sick, seemed to cash in big" (CBSSPORTS.com, 3/7). SI.com's Peter King: "Look at the number of players earning at least $2 million a year who changed teams on day one of free agency in 2009 versus 2010. ... What changed? Nothing that I see" (SI.com, 3/8). In N.Y., Judy Battista writes the opening weekend of free agency featured "some of the big deals that assured us that even the drive to save money for a lockout could not entirely snuff out the blood lust for victory" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/8).
NEW-LOOK REDSKINS: In DC, Thomas Boswell noted the Redskins "didn't so much as twitch to grab their Big Checkbook" and sign Peppers and Dansby, the NFL's "two gaudiest free agents." Neither Peppers nor Dansby "plays a position where the Redskins have major needs," and Boswell wonders, "Is it possible that, under Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen, the Redskins might give top priority to fixing what's horribly broken, and has been ignored for years, instead of chasing the splashiest names on the market? Sure looks like it." Boswell added, "Spending to win is good. Wasting money, then making it back from your customers, isn't" (WASHINGTON POST, 3/7). Allen last week said the Redskins are searching for "more and more depth for competition at every position." The BOSTON GLOBE's Breer wrote this is the "surest sign yet that owner Dan Snyder has ceded influence in the football operation, and placed trust in Shanahan and Allen" (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/7). SI.com's King reports Shanahan and Allen "worked on a long-term plan for the team in their first month on the job and gave it to Snyder just before the Super Bowl." Allen: "He said, 'Good. Do what you guys think is best'" (SI.com, 3/8).
RISK FACTOR: A BOSTON GLOBE editorial written under the header, "NFL: Socialism Makes Everyone Rich," states,"There is socialism in the United States. It’s called the National Football League. In fact, this fantastically successful experiment in corporate socialism is now at risk of being ruined by owners and players who are threatening to behave as rational market actors." NFL owners are "complaining that a salary cap based on the players receiving" nearly 60% of total gross revenue has "become an unbearable burden for some franchises." The owners and the NFLPA are "making an omelet out of a golden egg and threatening to kill the goose that laid it" (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/7).
Crosby Turned Down "Today" Show Appearance
Following Penguins' Stanley Cup Victory
Penguins C Sidney Crosby turned down David Letterman's "invitation to host his Top Ten" while in N.Y. last week, according to Larry Brooks of the N.Y. POST. This is not the first time Crosby "rejected a request from Letterman's 'Late Show,'" and he also declined to appear on NBC's "Today" after the Penguins won the Stanley Cup last June. Brooks wrote in the "days that hockey was front-page and back-page material" after Crosby scored the game-winning goal to secure the men's hockey Gold Medal for Canada, it is "difficult to understand why the NHL's most recognizable player and ambassador refused to spread the gospel" (N.Y. POST, 3/7). In St. Petersburg, Tom Jones wrote Crosby "fanned on a great shot to help the league" by turning down Letterman's offer. A chance to "share the gospel on a show such as Letterman's is something Crosby needed to do, especially with the small window the NHL has to build on the momentum created by the Olympics" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 3/8). In L.A., Jill Painter writes the NHL "should have us on Crosby overload" following the Olympics, and fans "should be tired of seeing his mug." The "biggest news about Crosby these days is that the stick and gloves he used to score the winning goal" last Sunday are missing (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 3/8). TORONTO SPORTS MEDIA noted the talk-show appearances could have been "requested at the last minute and Crosby was booked up," and he is "not like the rest of us who would dump many ... things for that type of request." But Crosby's decision to turn down Letterman "does raise the question as to what type of obligations come with being the poster boy of the NHL." Should Crosby "have to drop everything whenever one of the big boys comes a calling," and is it "fair to judge him for not wanting to be on Letterman?" Also, would Crosby "deny the chance of hosting 'Saturday Night Live' if he were to be asked?" (TORONTOSPORTSMEDIA.com, 3/7).
MEDIA DARLING: Sabres G Ryan Miller appeared on NBC’s “Today” this morning and discussed Team USA’s Silver Medal-winning performance in the Vancouver Games. Miller said, “So many people in the country took notice of our team and they’re very proud of what we accomplished. ... Maybe we built some hockey fans.” He also noted the standing ovation he received in Pittsburgh last week in his first game since returning from the Games. Miller: “It felt amazing. Usually you go into an opposing rink and you hear a lot of boos. Probably worse, probably a lot worse. But just to have that moment where the American fans were taking notice ... even from people who weren’t even hockey fans" (“Today,” NBC, 3/8). Miller said yesterday of the "Today" appearance, “The league, my agent, the team and USA Hockey all conspired on this one so you just take advantage of it while you can. People are interested in me at the moment and I'll try to do my best to promote the game -- and try not to mumble too much." Miller will make several other media appearances in N.Y. today, “including interviews with Vanity Fair, the Wall Street Journal and VH1” (BUFFALONEWS.com, 3/7).
MISSING: GOLDEN EQUIPMENT: The CP reported Reebok Canada is "offering a $10,000 reward, no questions asked, for the return" of Crosby's missing Gold Medal-game equipment. Reebok has "set up an email hotline for people to send in tips on the equipment's location." Reebok Canada VP & GM Len Rhodes said, "The stick and glove are priceless. There's absolutely no substitute for that exact stick and glove" (CP, 3/7). Reebok said that there will be "no questions asked and the items will be returned to the Penguins center, although footage from that evening at Canada Hockey Place apparently is being used to help identify whoever might have had the equipment" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 3/8).
FIFA General Secretary Jerome Valcke Feels
Technology Should Not Be Allowed In Soccer
The Int'l Football Association Board Saturday "voted against continuing any further experiments with goal-line technology and effectively ended any chance of video replays coming" into soccer, according to the PA. FIFA General Secretary Jérôme Valcke at the IFAB meeting in Zurich said that the game "should be prepared to accept referees' mistakes but admitted he hoped the ruling would not be shown up in this summer's World Cup in South Africa." Valcke: "Technology should not enter into the game. It was a clear, clear statement made by the majority of the board. The main part of the game should be humans -- players and referees. Whatever are the mistakes -- and yes, there are mistakes -- people will review the match and discuss what happened but there was a clear statement that technology should not enter in the game. If we start with goal-line technology then any part of the game and pitch will be a potential space where you could put in place technology to see if the ball was in or out, whether it was a penalty and then you end up with video replays" (PA, 3/7). In London, Nick Szczepanik notes "within hours" of the decision, English soccer club Birmingham City was denied a goal in its FA Cup quarterfinal loss to Portsmouth when the ball "crossed the goalline but was not spotted by officials." Valcke said that soccer will "have to continue to accept such errors" (LONDON TIMES, 3/8).
The Indian Premier League has "drawn thousands of frenzied supporters, attracted millions of dollars of television advertising and handed an elite band of international players previously unheard-of riches" by bringing together "Bollywood, big business" and Twenty20 cricket, according to the WALL STREET JOURNAL's Jonathan Clegg, who writes under the header, "Great Expectations For Cricket." IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi has "shaken cricket from top to bottom since he and his colleagues took control of the Board for Control of Cricket in India" in '05. Modi: "Our objective is to be the single largest sporting league in the world, and we have an opportunity to get there. ... It will take us a few years to get to the level of the top sports leagues in the world -- they've been there a long time and have built huge fan bases -- but we've got numbers on our side." He added, "It's important for us to make sure that the product is available globally. Last year we were averaging 90-odd million eyeballs. But this year, we've got some great new partners, and we're hoping to hit 150 million eyeballs a day. With YouTube, it allows us to go in and make sure that anybody in the world is able to watch the game of cricket. We want to be the largest sporting event in the world." Modi noted that he "expects to stage IPL matches" in the U.S. by next year. Modi: "Obviously the U.S. market is more focused on American sports now, but I think Twenty20, with its three-hour format, lends itself to new markets. It's a very explosive game, there's always action all the time and the fortunes of a team change with every ball. That becomes extremely important from a viewership point of view and also from an excitement point of view" (WSJ.com, 3/8).