Sunoco Debuts "Essence Of Racing" Campaign Executive Transactions Isiah Thomas Expected Backlash Over Hiring FanDuel Brings On Most Of Zynga Sports Team Georgia Approves Increased Athletic Budget Kentucky Adding Ribbon Boards At Rupp IndyCar Ponders How To Attract Fans Long Term Jeff Gordon Hired As Full-Time Analyst For Fox Danica's Sponsorship Status To Be Telling For NASCAR Classified Advertisements
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Alualu's High Maturity Level Could Have Played
Into Jaguars Taking Him With No. 10 Pick
If there was a "theme to the first round of the NFL draft Thursday night, it was that character was put on equal if not higher footing than talent," according to Jason Cole of YAHOO SPORTS. Nothing "said that more than" the Broncos selecting QB Tim Tebow with the 25th pick, but the "message was evident throughout the first day." The theme was "established long before Tebow was selected," beginning with the Jaguars using the No. 10 pick on Tyson Alualu. The former California DT "didn't get much love from draftniks," but he got "high marks from his teammates ... for his maturity." The married father of two "was considered a leader of the Polynesian players on the Cal squad." Meanwhile, the Chargers "moved all the way from No. 28 to No. 12" to select RB Ryan Mathews, who "scored off the charts for character with many NFL teams." The Chargers traded LB Tim Dobbins, the No. 28 overall pick, and second- and fourth-round picks to the Dolphins in favor of Mathews. The Broncos later selected WR Demaryius Thomas over WR Dez Bryant with the No. 22 pick, "even though an overwhelming number of NFL personnel men said Bryant was clearly a better talent, perhaps even a top-five talent." But Bryant is "considered an extremely irresponsible young man" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 4/23). In Jacksonville, Vito Stellino notes Alualu is "considered a character player because his father is a pastor and he's married with two children." Alualu "signed with Cal in 2005 but delayed his enrollment until January, 2006 for the birth of his first child" (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 4/23).
RISKY BUSINESS? SI.com’s Jim Trotter writes he was “impressed with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and his ability to think independently” during Thursday night’s first round. The team traded up three spots so they could select Bryant with the No. 24 pick despite some “character concerns.” However, Bryant’s “public rap sheet consists of lying to the NCAA about his relationship with former NFL great Deion Sanders, which resulted in him being suspended for all but three games last season; forgetting a pair of his cleats for his pro day workout; and being habitually late.” Trotter: “No doubt, Bryant has some issues. ... But the fact remains that there is nothing criminal or bad-natured in his background." Jones "did not see a ‘character risk’ when he made the trade” (SI.com, 4/23). NFL Network's Mike Mayock said of Bryant: "He's got a top-five skill set but … you got to work hard with him off-the-field. If you do that, you've got a Pro Bowl wide receiver" ("NFL Draft," NFL Network, 4/22). Jones said of selecting Bryant at No. 24, "We mitigated a lot of the risk in the pick getting him where we got him as opposed to where we had him graded." FOXSPORTS.com's Alex Marvez writes Bryant was a "top-10 talent," but the Broncos at the No. 22 pick "weren't about to tempt the fates" by drafting someone with character issues after having "just traded one head case in Brandon Marshall" (FOXSPORTS.com, 4/23). Bryant said of teams that passed on him, “I just feel those are the people who don’t know Dez Bryant. I don’t get into trouble. I’ve never committed a crime. I’ve never had trouble with the law. I don’t do drugs” (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 4/23).
ROCKY MOUNTAIN HIGH: In Denver, Mike Klis reports the Broncos believe they have found a better version of Marshall with Thomas, “better as in better behaved, with a little more downfield speed.” Klis: “There was a need for the Broncos to replace Brandon Marshall, the talented receiver they traded last week. There was zero desire to replace Brandon Marshall, the distracting headache” (DENVER POST, 4/23). With the selection of both Thomas and Tebow, NFL Network's Michael Irvin noted, "Interestingly enough, the Denver Broncos bring in two high-character people after they got rid of Brandon Marshall, setting a tone for this locker room" ("NFL Draft," NFL Network, 4/22).
Rams Expect To Have Bradford
Signed By Start Of Training Camp
The Rams did not try to sign QB Sam Bradford to a contract before selecting him with the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft Thursday, but the team is "not about to panic" over a possible training camp holdout, according to ESPN's Chris Mortensen. Tom Condon, Bradford's agent, has repped fellow No. 1 draft picks Colts QB Peyton Manning, Giants QB Eli Manning and 49ers QB Alex Smith, and "all those guys got signed before training camp despite the drama" ("NFL Draft," ESPN, 4/22). NFL Network's Mike Mayock said the reason a deal had not been discussed is because the Rams were "open for business all the way to final second, and I don’t blame them" ("NFL Draft," NFL Net, 4/22). In St. Louis, Jim Thomas reports the Rams did not decide "for sure until earlier this week" about taking Bradford. However, when Rams GM Billy Devaney "went around the room Wednesday to gauge the opinion of his scouts, the coaching staff and the rest of the personnel executives, it was unanimous" in support of choosing Bradford. That consensus "helped push it over the top," but it "should be noted, too, that Rams ownership was very pro-Bradford, particularly after seeing the team pass on quarterback Matt Ryan two years ago and Mark Sanchez last year." Devaney said of Bradford, "He's a much better athlete than I'd given him credit for early on in this process. Extremely intelligent. Character. I think he's a classy kid. All those things. I happen to think he's the whole package" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 4/23).
HELLO, MY NAME IS.... In Jacksonville, Gene Frenette writes the "early returns from the Jaguars' fan base isn't a collective 'Whoo-whoo,' but a 'Who?'" after the team used the No. 10 overall pick on California DT Tyson Alualu. There likely are "a lot of Jaguars' season-ticket holders ... throwing up their hands," not just because the team "didn't select hometown hero Tim Tebow, but for using a top-10 pick on a Pac-10 lineman that probably won't compel fans to rush to the ticket window." Frenette: "Nobody saw this one coming. Not with the consensus top three pass-rushers ... still on the board. And to make matters worse from a public-relations standpoint, Tebow ended up being drafted at No. 25 by the Denver Broncos, the Jaguars' season-opening opponent at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium" (JACKSONVILLE.com, 4/23). In Orlando, George Diaz writes of the Jaguars not selecting Tebow, "Seriously, what were the Jaguars thinking? The marketing potential would have been unprecedented, and the team would immediately have put people in the stadium -- from the cheap seats to the press room." With the Broncos opening the season in Jacksonville, "at least the Jags will get one sellout out of Tim Tebow before the stadium empties out for the rest of the season" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 4/23).
EPL club Manchester United for the seventh straight year ranks as the most valuable soccer club in the world, worth $1.84B, according to Schwartz, Maidment & Ozanian in FORBES' annual valuations. ManU last year posted operating income of $150M, the most of any team, while their media revenue of $164M ranked No. 1 in the EPL. The top 20 clubs last season posted an average enterprise value (equity plus net debt) of $632M, down 8.5% from $691M the previous year, which equates to a $1.2B aggregate loss in value. Also, operating income for the top 20 clubs fell from an average of $50M to $32M. But the "bigger concern is the growing bifurcation in profitability among Europe's elite clubs," as the five richest teams earned $556M, an operating margin of 24%, while the five poorest teams lost a combined $54M on revenues of $778M (FORBES.com, 4/21). FORBES' Parmy Olson notes sponsorships and broadcast rights money "have continued to roll in for Europe's top 20 soccer clubs," as broadcast rights "account for 42% of the revenue of Europe's top 20 clubs." Their combined revenues increased $36M to $5.5B last season (FORBES, 5/10 issue).FORBES MOST VALUABLE SOCCER CLUBSRKTEAMNATIONCURRENT VALUEDEBT/
VALUE1-YR % +/-REV.OPER. INCOME1Manchester UnitedEngland$1.835B46%-2%$459M$150M2Real MadridSpain$1.323B54%-2%$563M$130M3ArsenalEngland$1.181B41%-2%$369M$102M4
FC Barcelona Spain$1B0%4%$513M$113M5 Bayern Munich Germany$990M14%-11%$406M$61M6 Liverpool England$822M47%-19%$304M$37M7 AC Milan Italy$800M0%-19%$276M$41M8 Juventus Italy$656M3%9%$285M$57M9 Chelsea England$646M8%-19%$340M-$73M10 Inter Milan Italy$413M0%12%$276M-$14M11 FC Schalke 04 Germany$384M50%-25%$175M-$7M12 Tottenham Hotspur England$372M29%-16%$186M$35M13 Olympique Lyonnais France$333M10%-21%$196M$5M14 Hamburg SV Germany$329M0%0%$206M$41M15 AS Roma Italy$308M0%-19%$205M$25M16 Werder Bremen Germany$274M0%-6%$161M$24M17 Olympique Marseille France$262M0%9%$187M$19M18 Borussia Dortmund Germany$261M32%-20%$145M$8M19 Manchester City England$258M0%-17%$143M-$56M20 Newcastle United England$198M8%-30%$142M-$49M
MOST VALUABLE PLAYERS: FORBES' Christina Settimi reported MLS Galaxy MF David Beckham tops the list of highest-earning soccer players, earning $40M in '09, almost $33M of which "came from endorsements." The earnings include a "percentage of Beckham's Galaxy jersey sales -- the best- and fastest-selling one in MLS." But off the field, "not all is well with Brand Beckham." Brand Beckham Ltd. Dir Simon Fuller last week stepped down from his position, "fuelling speculation that the allure of Beckham and his wife, pop star Victoria Beckham, is fading." Meanwhile, successors to Beckham's position as soccer's top earner are "waiting in the wings." Real Madrid MF Cristiano Ronaldo ranks No. 2 on the list of highest-earning players with $30M in salary and endorsements last year, and Global Sponsors CEO Michael Stirling said Ronaldo "has stepped into the shoes of the old David Beckham." Like Beckham, the majority of Ronaldo's earnings are from sponsors, as he earned $16M in endorsements last year (FORBES.com, 4/21).WORLD'S TOP EARNERS IN SOCCERRKPLAYERCLUBNATIONAL TEAMEARNINGS1
David Beckham MLS Galaxy/AC Milan England$40M2 Cristiano Ronaldo Real Madrid Portugal$30M3 Kaka Real Madrid Brazil$25M4 Ronaldinho AC Milan Brazil$25M5 Thierry Henry FC Barcelona France$24M
Cardinals Will Begin Wearing
Alternate Uniform This Season
The Cardinals Thursday unveiled an alternate uniform the team will wear beginning this season. The jersey is predominantly black and will be worn with white pants featuring a black stripe with a red accent as well as black socks. Teams are permitted to wear an alternate uniform as many as three times per season -- once in the preseason and twice in the regular season, It has not been determined how many times or in which games the Cardinals will wear the uniforms (Cardinals). Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt described the uniform as, "In a word? Awesome!" Whisenhunt noted the uniform is something Cardinals President Michael Bidwill "has been working on for some time." Whisenhunt: "I know how important it was to him to come up with something that the fans and especially the players would be excited about. I don't think that's gonna be a problem" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 4/23).
UNPRECEDENTED PACE: In Ft. Lauderdale, Sarah Talalay reports the Dolphins' trade for WR Brandon Marshall "combined with a favorable schedule, has created a dramatic spike in season ticket sales." Dolphins Enterprises Senior Director of Marketing & Corporate Communications George Torres: "We haven't seen activity like this at this time of year ever" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 4/23). Talalay also noted the Dolphins have launched an initiative called "Special Teams" that is "aimed at encouraging Dolphins fans to pledge hours volunteering with the team across South Florida -- and beyond." The initiative "allows fans to become involved in a community project alongside Dolphins players and executives without having to write a check." Fans "get a 'Special Teams' T-shirt to wear at volunteer events" (SUN-SENTINEL.com, 4/22).
AGREEMENT WITH SUSPENSION: In Pittsburgh, Bob Cohn notes more than eight out of 10 Steelers fans who responded to a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review poll agreed that Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger "should have been disciplined or should be traded." In the survey, which was taken Tuesday and Wednesday prior to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announcing Roethlisberger's suspension, 61% of Steelers fans said that Roethlisberger "should be fined or suspended," while 23% said that they "want a trade." Only 9% of respondents "favored no disciplinary action." Cohn notes 61% of female respondents and 59% of male respondents favored disciplinary action, 24% of the men and 20% of the women endorsed a trade, and 12% of the men and 5% of the women favored no disciplinary action. The survey of 652 Western Pennsylvania residents "has a margin of error of 3.84 percentage points" (Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 4/23).
SUPPORTING THE TROOPS: The Chiefs announced a partnership with the Veterans of Foreign Wars. The partnership will kick off with a program entitled "Salute to Military Families" in which Chiefs players and soldiers' families will have an opportunity to send video messages and care packages to military personnel serving overseas (Chiefs).
The BOSTON HERALD reports a regulatory filing Thursday by the New York Times Co. "shed light on the value of the Red Sox." Venture capitalist Henry McCance paid $9M earlier this month for his 1.18% stake in the team's parent company, New England Sports Ventures, which also owns Fenway Park, 80% of NESN and 50% of Roush Fenway Racing. That would put the value of NESV at around $763M (BOSTON HERALD, 4/23). In Boston, Beth Healy notes the filing indicates that shares in NESV that "once went for $100,000 are now fetching about $280,000" (BOSTON GLOBE, 4/23).
Canadiens Offering Rebates On Officially Licensed
Sweaters In Exchange For Counterfeit Jerseys
GET REAL: In Montreal, David Johnston reports the Canadiens this week became the first NHL team to "start offering fans rebates on official licensed sweaters if they ... relinquish their counterfeit jerseys." The Canadiens are offering a C$100 rebate on authentic sweaters and C$50 for replica sweaters. The Habs Zone store at the Bell Centre sells authentic sweaters for C$299 and replicas for C$139. Johnston notes public response to the rebate offer so far "has been weak," but the team is "hoping that the anti-knockoff ads that they took out this week in major Montreal newspapers, and on the scoreboard at the Bell Centre" during Game Four of the Capitals-Canadiens Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series will "at least raise public awareness about knockoffs, which violate copyright law." The offer is "good only" at the Habs Zone at Bell Centre (Montreal GAZETTE, 4/23).
TAKING THE REINS: In Dallas, Evan Grant notes MLB is "taking on more and more responsibility where the Rangers are concerned." MLB "has been in control of most of the Rangers' financial matters for nearly a year now," and the real significance of Wednesday's statement that the league is taking over control of the sale of the club was "in its second half." Grant: "In saying the Commissioner would deal 'appropriately' with interference, it set the stage for the league to reclaim control of the franchise entirely and expedite the sale process" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 4/23).