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Goodell Says NFL Will Look At How It
Can Change And Grow Draft For Next Year
After the success of the NFL moving the first round of its draft to Thursday night and stretching the event to three days, fans can "expect more flash and sizzle next April," according to Rick Gosselin of the DALLAS MORNING NEWS. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said, "It's obvious we have something here that has a tremendous amount of interest. We're going to look at how we can change it up again and try to grow it for next year." The NFL "had several guest announcers of picks" for this year's draft, including Pro Football HOFers Jim Brown, Dan Marino and Rod Woodson and ABC News correspondent Bob Woodruff. Goodell: "There's an entertainment element to this that's extraordinary." Gosselin: "Count on the NFL to tap that element in 2011." Meanwhile, the league invited 14 players to the draft, and you can "expect that number to increase as well" next year. Goodell: "Players and agents were not comfortable yet that it was going to be a big show Friday night -- that they'd be sitting in the back embarrassed. Now that they've seen it's not the case -- that in fact it's a stage for them to promote themselves and their players -- I think we'll get more interest going forward." Gosselin notes the NFL also "may look into accelerating the pace of the draft to keep it moving along in prime time." Teams this year "were allotted 10 minutes to make their first-round selections, seven minutes for second-round picks and five minutes every round thereafter," but the NFL "could trim the clock to seven minutes in the first round and five minutes in the following rounds." Goodell: "Everything is a possibility. There isn't very much we're dismissing at this point" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 4/27).
IN NEED OF A LINE CHANGE? SI.com's Richard Deitsch wrote ESPN should make the on-air group of Trey Wingo, Ron Jaworski, Mel Kiper Jr., Todd McShay and Jon Gruden its "main draft team for the 2011 draft." Wingo "lives and breathes the sport 365 days a year as the host of 'NFL Live;' he runs an efficient and professional show that allows the analysts next to him to make their points." McShay and Kiper "have developed chemistry and respect each other on-camera," and Jaworski is "one of the most prepared analysts in the history of the game." Deitsch: "I never feel cheated when I watch him." Also, Gruden "has fantastic insight into the league." Wingo, Jaworski, Kiper and McShay hosted ESPN's Saturday coverage of rounds 4-7 of the draft, and there is "no question the Saturday telecast is a much different broadcast." Deitsch: "You can miss podium picks, there's no reaction shots to consider, and analysts can really chew into a discussion. So I recognize the first round is the harder production when I make the ... recommendation." ESPN Senior Coordinating Producer Jay Rothman Sunday said that the network's draft coverage next year "will change somewhat out of necessity." Rothman: "I'm probably going to suggest that we drastically reduce our number of on-air people for next year. I'm talking about Thursday and Friday night. It's hard to stay true to the draft and not miss a pick and still give a little background on the players. ... Things get backed up. I don't want to say I was frustrated, but there is frustration given the speed of it all. My thought is to bring down the talent level big-time and keep it snappy" (SI.com, 4/26). SPORTINGNEWS.com's Dan Levy wrote the Wingo-led group on Saturday "was, without a doubt, the best possible lineup for ESPN to put on television. ... ESPN hit a home run with their personnel on Saturday" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 4/26).
GRUDEN GOING BEYOND PRIMETIME: Gruden appeared on CBS' "Late Show" last night, where he discussed the draft with host David Letterman. Letterman brought up "Jon Gruden's QB Camp," a recurring segment leading up to the draft where Gruden spoke with several potential high draft picks. Letterman: "These kids had a great deal of reverence for you, a great deal of respect for you, a great deal of fear for you." Gruden: "I felt it was a responsibility to try to help these guys get ready." Letterman added, "It was fun because you start riding these kids, and I loved it" ("Late Show," CBS, 4/26).
Beckham's Absence Could Open Door For
Galaxy To Bring In Another Designated Player
Galaxy MF David Beckham yesterday revealed that he will likely miss the entire MLS season due to the torn Achilles' tendon he suffered last month, adding "another chapter to the strange saga of disappointment and redemption that has made Beckham's stay in the U.S. such compelling theater," according to Brian Straus of FANHOUSE.com. One year after "making amends with many fans by helping" the Galaxy reach the MLS Cup, Beckham "will be a spectator once again." While Beckham "injected a bit of quality and class" to MLS, the league now is "at the point where it doesn't need" him. Straus: "The novelty had sort of worn off anyway, and there are plenty of compelling reasons to continue to pay attention to the Galaxy" (FANHOUSE.com, 4/26). The GLOBE & MAIL's Paul James writes MLS "no longer requires" Beckham's presence on the field "for any future success." His foray into MLS "undoubtedly has succeeded in terms of off-the-field exposure but, in turn, his on-field presence has failed miserably." He has not played in "what could be considered a reasonable portion of games in return for the huge investment that has been made for his talents." But MLS is "now healthy enough that the only real effect is a few red faces." The lack of Beckham "cannot detrimentally affect the fan bases in the cities of Toronto, Seattle, Philadelphia, Chicago, New York or even Los Angeles," nor will it "affect the success of Vancouver, Portland or Montreal once they enter the league." James: "This situation is a good thing. It is a clear sign that the days of signing a soccer icon with a media presence should not be a prerequisite for the future success of Major League Soccer" (GLOBE & MAIL, 4/27).
ONE DOOR CLOSES... In L.A., Grahame Jones writes the likelihood of Beckham missing the entire '10 season "could lead to some intriguing possibilities for the Galaxy and its owner, AEG." MLS "has to be convinced that Beckham's likely unavailability for the entire 2010 season should allow the Galaxy to acquire another designated player in his absence." If the league permits the team to add another DP, it "would open the door for such stars as AC Milan's Ronaldinho or Real Madrid's Raul to come to Los Angeles this summer." The Galaxy could keep both Beckham and the new DP in '11 and "still stay under the MLS salary cap" if it sells F Landon Donovan to EPL club Everton after the '10 season (L.A. TIMES, 4/27).
ANOTHER DOOR OPENS: ESPN THE MAGAZINE's Doug McIntyre notes MLS has "long maintained that it wants to be counted among the best leagues in the world," and recent "European developments -- no EPL squads in the Champions League semis, signs that more stars are heading to Spain, financial woes plaguing the EU -- prove just how quickly the game can change." MLS may be a "potential beneficiary of this power shift." With 16 teams playing this season, and two more joining in '11, MLS is "poised to nearly double in size since 2004 and pull within striking distance of the 20-team contingent found in most European leagues." In addition, the city of Houston recently approved plans for a $95M soccer stadium, MLS' 11th soccer-specific venue, and the "new digs don't just help MLS inch toward profitability; they also enable the league to present a more attractive product, one that resembles the global variety in both appearance and intensity" (ESPN THE MAGAZINE, 5/3 issue).
NBA Commissioner David Stern noted the league has "given the players a load of information" regarding the current CBA talks. Stern: "Maybe we'll argue about what the numbers mean, but we won't argue about what the numbers are. We want to make sure that this is the largest delivery of financial information in the history of any collective bargaining. ... We don't have a sustainable business model, and this is the place where you correct it: collective bargaining" ("Jim Rome Is Burning," ESPN, 4/26).
FEHR FACTOR? In Boston, Kevin Paul Dupont reported former MLBPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr "sent out an e-mail last week apprising the rank-and-file" of the NHLPA executive board meetings, and he is "likely to be named top dog, pending player approval," at the meetings July 13-14. Fehr was "first approached by Eric Lindros to advise the union" during former NHLPA Exec Dir Paul Kelly's tenure, and "by all appearances" he will take over the job. The NHLPA Exec Committee will meet in June and July as it "creeps closer to fixing its constitution and selecting a new executive director," and an "improved constitution will make it possible for the executive director to do his job and not be the victim of a player-driven cabal" (BOSTON GLOBE, 4/25).
IndyCar Will Reward Top Drivers On Two Types
Of Tracks With Trophies, Bonuses At End Of Season
STREET SENSE: In Indianapolis, Curt Cavin reports Izod IndyCar Series officials yesterday confirmed that the "top performers on the two types of tracks -- ovals and road/street circuits -- will be honored" at the end of the season. Drivers "scoring the most points in each category, regardless of where they finish in the overall standings, will receive a trophy named for a former champion and a cash bonus." IndyCar "will continue to crown an overall series champion, but having special designations could help drivers sell a partial schedule to sponsors" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 4/27).
SMALL PIECE OF THE PIE: SI.com's Jon Wertheim noted Wimbledon last week announced that it "would increase prize money for the 2010 Championships," but "compared to other sporting properties, the athletes still get a paltry percent of the business." Men's and women's singles champions will receive about $1.53M this year, but "judging by the proceeds returned" to the Lawn Tennis Association, Wimbledon "likely posts gross revenues in the neighborhood" of around US$153M. Wertheim: "Consider the NFL owners and players are fighting over whether 60 percent of revenues in salaries is a fair ratio." The tennis players are "still getting a raw deal at the majors." But as the Grand Slams "fatten the purses, you could argue that it has the effect of undermining the strength and gravitas of the tours" (SI.com, 4/26).