SBD/Issue 238/Leagues & Governing BodiesPrint All
Expanded Regular Season
Meeting Resistance From Players
While NFL owners are "still almost certain to push forward with their pursuit" of an 18-game regular season in CBA talks with the NFLPA, there is "sentiment among at least a few of them that approval is not the slam dunk it once appeared to be," according to Judy Battista of the N.Y. TIMES. The proposal "has met with considerable concern from coaches, general managers and especially players." Ravens LB Ray Lewis: "I don't think it's knowledgeable to make us play 18 games. It's rough." Battista writes the fact that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is "not calling for a vote now may indicate that enough owners are not entirely sold on the advantages of an extended regular season, or that they have not been convinced there are ways to ameliorate the impact of the extra games" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/25). In DC, Mark Maske notes the current CBA "gives the owners the right to lengthen the regular season, but they would have to negotiate compensation with the union or that issue would be put before an arbitrator." The owners "have chosen not to extend the regular season unilaterally, saying they would put a longer season into effect only with the union's approval as part of the labor talks." The longer regular season "could produce an increase in roster sizes" (WASHINGTON POST, 8/25). In Baltimore, Peter Schmuck writes there are a "lot of details that would have to be worked out, like when the season starts and ends." Since it is "considered likely that the NFL would add a second bye week to ease the physical toll on the players, we're probably talking about a regular season that is three weeks longer" (Baltimore SUN, 8/25).
PLAYERS VOICE CONCERNS: Raiders DE Richard Seymour said, "I can't believe we're talking about 18 games when we don't even know the effects of concussions and all these things we have. And you want the players to go out even longer? It makes no sense." Cowboys LB DeMarcus Ware: "Guys who may play for 12 or 13 years will be playing for only eight or nine years. I think it will have that big of an impact." But Falcons President and Competition Committee co-Chair Rich McKay said that he is "encouraged that data the committee will provide to owners conclude the risk of injuries won't increase." Meanwhile, Chargers C and player rep Nick Hardwick is "concerned about whether a longer season will add to long-term issues that might not surface until a player has retired" (USA TODAY, 8/25). Lewis said, "Sixteen games are enough. I mean, you're talking to someone who has been in this business for 15 years. The things that have to go into just keeping your body (in shape). We're not automobiles. We're not machines. We're humans" (Baltimore SUN, 8/25). USA TODAY's Bell notes many players contend that with "two additional regular-season games, they would expect a salary bump equivalent to the prorated value of a game-check." But owners "dispute that thinking" (USA TODAY, 8/25). Vikings G and player rep Steve Hutchinson: "From the union's standpoint, we have to figure out a way to compensate us for two more games. If it's cut and dried and there's two more regular-season games and they figure out the compensation, that's one thing. But somehow I don't think that's going to be the case. ... Right now, I don't think there's any doubt there will be a work stoppage" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 8/25).
LOCKOUT CONSIDERATIONS: ESPN.com's John Clayton wrote the NFL "can justify going to an 18-game regular season, but only ... if it means no lockout in 2011." Expanding the regular season "has its problems," but "more games means more revenue and more revenue can be the olive branch that could lead to long-lasting labor peace." Clayton: "What doesn't make sense is locking out players in order to force them into taking a much lower percentage and then asking them to endure two more games of pounding. Plus, a lockout could ultimately hurt revenues" (ESPN.com, 8/24). In N.Y., William Rhoden wrote, "How can the NFL wring its hands about player safety and health, then turn around and extend the regular season by two games? If owners add two games, they should compensate players by prorating their per-game salary over 18 games. Simple as that." Rhoden added season-ticket holders "should no longer be required to buy tickets for preseason games," as those games "are a sham and everybody knows it." The proposal for a longer regular season "will produce -- or should produce -- a significant public collision" between the NFL and the NFLPA. Rhoden: "As a condition of two added games, players must receive extra compensation and teams must have extra personnel" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/25).
OLD CBA TOO ONE-SIDED? The NATIONAL FOOTBALL POST's Andrew Brandt wrote of late NFLPA Exec Dir Gene Upshaw's "many legacies and accomplishments, the most enduring may be his negotiation" of the '06 CBA. Brandt: "In short, according to many owners, Upshaw did too good a job." Bills Owner Ralph Wilson and Bengals Owner Mike Brown were the only two dissenting votes against the CBA, and they were "seen as contrarians at the time." Brandt: "Soon after the ink was dry, however, more and more owners started to empathize with the initial doubt of Wilson and Brown" (NATIONALFOOTBALLPOST.com, 8/24).
Fasel Holding His Ground In Effort
To Keep NHL From Expanding Into Europe
IIHF President Rene Fasel yesterday "used the stage on the on-going World Hockey Summit to take a few verbal jabs at anyone who believes Europe might be fertile ground for NHL expansion," according to Paul Hunter of the TORONTO STAR. Fasel: "This is our territory and I will fight like hell and not allow anybody to come from abroad. I think in Europe, we are strong enough to do something on our own and then have a competition between Europe and North America." There has "long been conjecture that the NHL might one day expand overseas," though such speculation "has existed so long, it now strains credulity." The league "seems quite content tapping in to revenue sources overseas with occasional team training camps, exhibition tilts and now some regular season games." But that "didn't stop" Fasel. He said, "I don't think an NHL division in Europe would fly. If they have a lot of money to invest, they could try but as long as I'm sitting on my chair, I would never allow that." Meanwhile, when asked about the NHL's participation in the '14 Sochi Olympics, Fasel "returned to the mediator role he plays best." He said that "whatever problems the NHL has with the Olympics and whatever role the league would like to play in staging the games, an attempt will be made to work things out to everyone's satisfaction" (TORONTO STAR, 8/25). The GLOBE & MAIL's Eric Duhatschek notes from Fasel's perspective, the "value of continued NHL Olympic participation would come mostly on a marketing level." Fasel: "It's not a money question. I would say as a non-profit federation, the maximum we could pay would be $3- or $4-million. It's not bad, but it's pocket money for the NHL. This is the best promotion for the league and also for the game and also for the players" (GLOBE & MAIL, 8/25).
OVER THE TOP? ESPN.com's Scott Burnside wrote while the World Hockey Summit is "supposed to be about global hockey issues, Fasel clearly relishes his role as defender of all things European." He "chided North Americans for thinking they are the only fans of the game," as he said that Europeans "have a tremendous passion for the game, too" (ESPN.com, 8/24). The GLOBE & MAIL's Duhatschek writes Fasel's "passionate response to even the hint of an NHL invasion of Europe was surprising." The NHL's "official position on expansion of any sort is that it is not on the horizon in the short term; and that stabilizing the 30 teams in their current markets is the priority for now" (GLOBE & MAIL, 8/25). YAHOO SPORTS' Nicholas Cotsonika wrote the "more Fasel said 'it's not a money thing,' the more it seemed like a money thing." Cotsonika: "What is the NHL going to do, cede its spot as the world's top league? The Europeans, especially the Russians, want the NHL to help them develop so they can compete with the NHL" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 8/24).
PRESSING ISSUE: A TORONTO STAR editorial states the World Hockey Summit "has an ambitious agenda to map out the sport's future growth," but the "elephant in the room ... has been the NHL's traditionally head-in-the-sand approach to reducing brain injuries and concussions from illegal head hits." The editorial: "Now, a swelling tide of medical evidence should force the best minds in hockey to pay greater heed to the impact of head injuries" (TORONTO STAR, 8/25).
With NHL Reportedly Turning Down Another
Deal, Could Kovalchuk Head To The KHL?
The Devils' attempts to sign LW Ilya Kovalchuk to a new contract "have been confounded again, denied encouragement from the NHL on their second try at a contract," according to sources cited by Mark Everson of the N.Y. POST. The NHL yesterday reportedly "continued its hard line by criticizing the framework of a deal the Devils and Kovalchuk's camp optimistically presented for comment Monday." Everson writes by still failing to approve a contract between the Devils and Kovalchuk, the NHL is "risking being the culprit if one of its most talented players leaves for Russia, as time becomes a factor in Kovalchuk's decision where to play." Aside from the "looming opening of Russia's KHL season Sept. 8, Kovalchuk's main but less preferred other option, going back to the drawing board again jeopardizes" Devils President, CEO & GM Lou Lamoriello's "desire to complete the Kovalchuk signing and subsequent cap-forced jettisoning of important players by the Sept. 17 start of training camp" (N.Y. POST, 8/25).
Financial Documents Of Six Teams,
Including Marlins, Have Been Leaked
MLB is "focusing its investigation" into the leak of several team financial documents on "insurance companies that do business with clubs," according to sources cited by Richard Sandomir of the N.Y. TIMES. The companies under investigation "sell liability insurance for top-level team executives and directors, not players." A baseball exec said, "A couple of teams are very unhappy because the feeling is MLB didn’t have to provide detailed, individual team financials for this type of insurance" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/25). In N.Y., Red & Vinton report MLB's Department of Investigations has "zeroed in on the insurance carrier after Deadspin.com and the Associated Press published a series of confidential financial reports detailing revenue streams and expenditures for several teams." An MLB source said, "It was beneficial, some of the information. I think a lot of people were glad to see that the receipts were higher" but not happy to see some "transfer of equity was not going toward players and player development" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 8/25).
SIX AND COUNTING: In Ft. Worth, Barry Shlachter reports Deadspin yesterday released financial documents for the Rangers, now the sixth MLB team whose confidential data has been released, showing that the club lost almost $12M in '09 and about $10.5M in '08. The documents show that the Rangers had $167.4M in revenue last year with $174.8M in operating expenses, a $7.4M operating loss. Other expenses, "mostly interest, pushed the year's net loss" to $11.98M. The Rangers in '09 earned $46.9M in ticket revenue and $66.8M in TV and radio rights (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 8/25).
NOT THE SIZE OF THE DOG IN THE FIGHT: In N.Y., Tyler Kepner notes the Marlins have spent $396M on "player salaries from 2000 through 2010, with 873 victories and a World Series title to show." By comparison, NL East rival the Mets have spent about $1.212B during the same time, "with 878 victories and no championships." Thus, the Mets have spent about $816M more than the Marlins to "win five more games and one fewer title." Marlins President of Baseball Operations Larry Beinfest said, "You do the best with what you have. But I think some of it is we’re maybe a little bit limited in risk-taking, carving out part of the payroll and saying we’re going to allocate it to a risk in this area and we may hit or we may not" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/25).