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Players Say Mawae Elected
For His Experience, Stability
Free agent C Kevin Mawae Saturday afternoon was re-elected to a second two-year term as NFLPA President. Mawae at the union's annual meetings at the Fairmont Kea Lani in Maui said, “You don’t change leaders in the middle of a war.” Mawae ran against Ravens CB Domonique Foxworth, the youngest member of the NFLPA’s Exec Committee and whom player reps admire for his intelligence and poise. Foxworth has been a friend and ally of Mawae’s. Both gave short speeches before players elected Mawae. “I think (Mawae) won because of his knowledge, his expertise and experience,” said Cardinals CB and player rep Ralph Brown. Many players here hold both Foxworth and Mawae in high regard and believe that Foxworth may make a very good future president, Brown said, but the need for stability won out. Mawae said, “After I have been through some of the stuff that took place and [former NFLPA Exec Dir Gene Upshaw] passed away … I realized there was so much more at stake in the game right now, especially going into this uncapped year and the labor situation." He added, “I certainly know that in the last 17 years, this is the toughest situation that the union has ever faced.” Mawae said no one lobbied him to stay on as president and he did not lobby players to re-elect him. But with the real possibility of a lockout next March, Mawae expressed what he sees as an obligation to see the job through. “It’s a fight I wanted to take to the end.”
GETTING ON BOARD: The NFLPA board of player reps elected free agent QB Charlie Batch, Browns LB Scott Fujita, free agent WR Sean Morey and Chiefs G Brian Waters as the four new members of the NFLPA Exec Committee. They replace Keenan McCardell, Kevin Carter, Donovin Darius and Mark Bruener, who had to give up their seats because they did not play in the NFL last year. Sources said the other members of the Exec Committee -- Foxworth, Saints QB Drew Brees, Broncos S Brian Dawkins, free agent FB Tony Richardson, Colts C Jeff Saturday and Chiefs LB Mike Vrabel -- were re-elected to their seats.
MORE FROM NFLPA MEETINGS: For more on the NFLPA meetings, see SportsBusiness Daily/Journal's free page.
New Venture Is
IMG and India-based Reliance Industries Ltd. have formed a joint venture called IMG Reliance to develop, market, and manage sports and entertainment in India (IMG). The WALL STREET JOURNAL’s Lattman & Futterman note IMG Reliance “seeks to unlock the country’s vast but undeveloped sports market.” The venture will look to “develop professional soccer and basketball leagues in India, as well as nurture athletic talent by building sports academies throughout the country.” The deal is the “brainchild” of IMG Chair & CEO Ted Forstmann and Reliance Chair Mukesh Ambani. Lattman & Futterman note the “real potential profits from the venture will come from the development of professional sports leagues.” India has “little in the way of a professional sports infrastructure, and nothing that approaches the professional level of basketball or soccer leagues that exist in other countries.” IMG Reliance will “look to strike arrangements with India’s soccer and basketball federations to help them build these leagues.” Forstmann said that the venture’s “ambitions are to create something akin to England’s Premier League.” IMG “will make scholarships available to the most promising athletes.” The company also will “build out its business in India of managing talent, as well as the country’s fashion and film celebrities” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 3/13).
Onstad, Players Hope Strike Vote Will
Bring Different Dynamic To Negotiations
ESPN SOCCCERNET's Jeff Carlisle wrote the vote by MLS players to strike without a new CBA in place by the March 25 season-opener is the "clearest indication yet of the lengths the union will go to in order to obtain more guaranteed contracts, fewer unilateral contract options, and some form of free agency for out-of-contract players." Dynamo G and player rep Pat Onstad: "We can say we're unified all we want, but for guys to put pen to paper, it was a good sign of solidarity. We're a long way off from getting a deal done, and we're not going to play soccer until the CBA is changed. We think it's very unfair, and we feel it needs to be a fair contract before we sign it." He admitted the MLSPU hopes the strike vote will bring a "different dynamic" into negotiations (ESPNSOCCERNET.com, 3/12). ESPN's Tony Kornheiser said, "If MLS players strike, will anyone notice?" He added a strike is "not a good idea for them because nobody will miss them, and it's possible when they want to come back, the world will have moved on" ("PTI," ESPN, 3/12).
BIGGER ISN'T ALWAYS BETTER: In Detroit, Chris McCosky reported NHL GMs last week "shot down a proposal" from Islanders Owner Charles Wang to "have a mini-tournament for the eighth and final playoff spot in each conference." Wang's proposal was to "have the teams that finish eight through 15 in each conference play a week-long tournament to decide the eighth-place finisher." The No. 8 seed, which "actually earned a playoff spot, would have to win it again, starting with the No. 15 seed and working back through the field." McCosky: "Having a mini-tournament at the end of the regular season would completely take the starch out [of] these final weeks of the regular season. Teams would just position themselves for the play-in tourney" (DETROIT NEWS, 3/13).
A GROWING DEBATE: In New Jersey, Bob Klapisch noted last week's diagnosis that Mets SS Jose Reyes has an "over-active thyroid" has sparked speculation about possible HGH usage, which is "why the players association needs to drop its tone-deaf opposition to HGH blood tests." If Reyes is "indeed innocent, he’s precisely the type of athlete who could benefit from this screening." But MLBPA Exec Dir Michael Weiner Saturday said, "Blood testing is much more complicated in terms of the safety issues." Klapisch wrote that is "another way of saying the union would rather wait for the more-easily administered urine test, knowing that’s years away from being implemented" (Bergen RECORD, 3/14).