SBD/Issue 177/Leagues & Governing Bodies

Expanded NFL Regular Season Discussed "Extensively" At Meetings

Goodell Expects Expanded Season Proposal
To Play Major Role In Upcoming Labor Talks

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell yesterday said that the "expansion of the regular season to 18 games was discussed extensively" at the owners meetings in Dallas, according to Albert Breer of the BOSTON GLOBE. Goodell "framed the idea as the 'enhanced season,' which came with the implication that the league is simply taking a 20-game season and turning two preseason contests into regular-season contests." Goodell expects the proposal to "play a major role in the upcoming labor talks -- the next formal negotiation is set for June -- with the collective bargaining agreement expiring after the 2010 season." Goodell reported that there was "no progress made at these meetings to resolve the issue, but is hopeful that finding new sources of revenue will alleviate some of the existing problems." He added that "finding ways to enhance the 'in-stadium' experience is a priority" (BOSTON GLOBE, 5/26).

SENDING A MIXED MESSAGE? The AP's Schuyler Dixon noted yesterday's meetings "served as the launch of several programs with Mothers Against Drunk Driving to promote responsible drinking." MADD officials "will speak at the league's rookie symposium, and will run pilot programs on game days in Buffalo and Oakland," and there will be "other promotions in stadiums and involvement in community events benefiting MADD." Dixon noted the NFL recently agreed to a deal worth more than $1B with A-B InBev to replace MillerCoors as the league's beer sponsor, but the league and incoming MADD CEO Kimberly Earle said that there is "no mixed message" (AP, 5/25). USA TODAY's Sean Leahy noted drunk driving arrests among players "have been an issue the NFL has fought for several years." Five players during a six-week span in February and March "were arrested for driving while intoxicated" (USATODAY.com, 5/25).

OTHER LEAGUE ISSUES: In DC, Mark Maske reported Goodell yesterday said that the league "will 'aggressively' look into the possibility that players could be disciplined for their dealings" with Dr. Anthony Galea, who has been "charged by authorities in the U.S. with unlawful distribution" of HGH. Goodell: "We are very anxious to understand all the details and pursue it aggressively, and we will. ... We will pursue it in accordance with our policies." Goodell added he is "hopeful" the NFLPA will agree to blood testing in the new CBA (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 5/25). Meanwhile, in New Orleans, Nakia Hogan reports it "doesn't appear that the Saints are facing any disciplinary action from the league ... amid allegations brought up in a lawsuit that team personnel stole the prescription painkiller Vicodin and attempted to cover up the alleged state and federal offense." Goodell yesterday said that he "hasn't been brought up to speed with the case." Goodell: "I haven't gotten an update on that recently to be able to give you anything on it" (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 5/26).

LET THE RHETORIC CONTINUE: Patriots Owner Robert Kraft said Monday the NFL has generated $3.6B since the last CBA was agreed to in '06, and $2.6B "went to the players, plus another $200 million." Kraft: "Ownership collectively had $200 million greater expenses on this last revenue drawn. We can't continue that and continue to invest in the business." NFLPA outside counsel James Quinn in a statement said of Kraft's comments, "We saw his comments and checked with our joint auditors. That could only be true if they don't count the approximately $1 billion the NFL gets off the top." In Boston, Albert Breer noted the union's claim is that the "revenue number should be" $4.8B, not $3.6B. Breer: "Of course, there's posturing on both sides going on right now ... But those are the stances here that each side has taken" (BOSTON.com, 5/25).

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