SBD/December 16, 2010/People and Pop Culture

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell Tops SBJ's Most Influential List

NFL Commissioner ROGER GOODELL tops SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL's annual list of the "50 Most Influential People In Sports Business." Goodell has "in part the fate of America's most popular game in his hands." He "must hash out a new labor deal to save the 2011 season -- in other words, he has the primary influence in what the entire industry is watching most closely." The philosophy in shaping the list this year was "rooted heavily with an eye on labor and management relations." More participants could have been added "into the mix who are part of the negotiating teams," but the focus instead was on the "main negotiators." There has been "criticism in the last year about splitting slots and having multiple people listed in one position." But while the list would be cleaner with 50 names for 50 slots, "it wouldn't be as accurate." Many executives "have similar spheres of influence within a company or sector." It is "just the way the world works" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 12/13 issue).

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell
ESPN/ABC Sports President George Bodenheimer
NBA Commissioner David Stern
MLB Commissioner Bud Selig
NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith
NBC Sports & Olympics Chair Dick Ebersol
News Corp. Deputy Chair, President & COO Chase Carey
CBS News and Sports President Sean McManus
The Kraft Group Chair & CEO Robert Kraft
Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman
AEG President & CEO Tim Leiweke
Turner Broadcasting President of Sales, Distribution & Sports David Levy
Nike CEO Mark Parker and Brand President Charlie Denson
NFL Panthers Owner Jerry Richardson
IOC President Jacques Rogge
IMG Chair & CEO Ted Forstmann and IMG Sports & Entertainment President George Pyne
NASCAR Chair & CEO Brian France
PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem
Fox Sports Media Group Chair & CEO David Hill and FSN President Randy Freer
FIFA President Sepp Blatter
ESPN Exec VP/Content John Skipper and Exec VP/Sales & Marketing Sean Bratches
adidas Chair & CEO Herbert Hainer
WMG Chair & CEO Casey Wasserman
Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany
New England Sports Ventures Owner John Henry
NBA Deputy Commissioner & COO Adam Silver
MLB Exec VP/Business Tim Brosnan
A-B InBev VP/Media, Sponsorship & Activation Mark Wright and VP/Global Connections Maarten Albarda
NBPA Exec Dir Billy Hunter
NFL, NHL and MLS Outside Labor Counsel Bob Batterman and NFLPA Labor Counsel Jeffrey Kessler
NCAA President Mark Emmert and Exec VP Greg Shaheen
MLBAM President & CEO Bob Bowman
MLS Commissioner Don Garber
Yankees co-Chair & Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner
CAA Sports co-Heads Michael Levine and Howard Nuchow
Monumental Sports & Entertainment Chair Ted Leonsis
Under Armour Chair & CEO Kevin Plank
GM VP/U.S. Marketing Joel Ewanick
USOC Chair Larry Probst
Coca-Cola North America CMO Bea Perez
Univ. of Texas Men's AD DeLoss Dodds
MLBPA Exec Dir Michael Weiner
MillerCoors President & Chief Commercial Officer Tom Long and CMO Andy England
PepsiCo Chair & CEO Indra Nooyi
Time Warner Cable Exec VP & Chief Programming Officer Melinda Witmer
Galatioto Sports Partners President Sal Galatioto
Verizon Wireless Exec Dir of Media, Engagements & Interactions Suzy Deering
Octagon President & CEO Rick Dudley, President of Athletes & Personalities Phil De Picciotto and Octagon Marketing President Jeff Shifrin
HBO Sports President Ross Greenburg

NBA OWNERS LARGELY ABSENT: In San Antonio, Tim Griffin wrote it is "interesting that owners like" the Mavericks' Mark Cuban, the Knicks'  James Dolan, the Trail Blazers' Paul Allen, the Nets' Mikhail Prokhorov and the Spurs' Peter Holt did not make the list. Griffin: "Considering the growing popularity of the NBA, it's a little surprising that more NBA figures don't dot the list. Particularly Cuban, who is becoming widely known as one of the most quotable owners in pro sports" (, 12/13). Mavericks F BRIAN CARDINAL said it is "unfortunate" that Cuban is not on the list. When asked about not making the list Monday, Cuban said, "I don't care. Have I been on the list before? Whatever." The only NBA owner who made the list was Wizards Owner TED LEONSIS, who is listed at No. 37 (, 12/13). Leonsis on his blog wrote, "I was shocked to see myself on this list. I have no idea why I am on this list. ... I don't feel influential or powerful. I would grade us and me with an 'incomplete!'" (, 12/14).

LOSING TRACK POSITION: In Virginia, Dustin Long wrote under the header, "Is Brian France's Influence Waning?" The NASCAR Chair & CEO was "one of five people in the top 20 of the list who fell at least a spot from last year." Others who fell included Cowboys Owner JERRY JONES, IOC President JACQUES ROGGE, PGA Tour Commissioner TIM FINCHEM and Fox Sports Media Group Chair & CEO David Hill (, 12/13).

TWITTER REAX: Broadcasting & Cables’ Ben Grossman: “SBJ's great annual top 50 most influential in sports list is out. Always good read, I'm shocked at lack of Dana White.” Women In Sports & Events: “What does it take to be considered influential? Surely there are more than 4 women in sports business worthy of a top 50 mention.” ESPN’s Mike Massaro: “Only 1 NASCAR team owner listed. John Henry & his bio doesn't even mention NASCAR. 2 NFL owners in top-10.” CNBC’s Darren Rovell: “Not 1 journalist on list.”

MAKING THEIR CASE: ESPN Radio's "Mike & Mike in the Morning" light-heartedly discussed the list yesterday, and ESPN's MIKE GREENBERG jokingly said, "If I had one, I would cancel my subscription to SportsBusiness Journal." Greenberg noted every year SBJ "lists the 50 most influential people in sports and every year we don't make it." Greenberg: "Frankly, it's enough with this already." ESPN's MIKE GOLIC: "We call every year, and they keep telling us we're 51st and keep our fingers crossed, maybe next year. We've heard 'maybe next year' for eight, nine years now." SBJ/SBD Exec Editor ABRAHAM MADKOUR said the publication talked to ESPN Exec VP/Content John Skipper and joked, "He didn't want you guys on the list in your contract year." Meanwhile, Golic said ESPN/ABC Sports President GEORGE BODENHEIMER ranking No. 2 on the list was an "injustice," as he "should be No. 1 on this list." Greenberg: "George has been done wrong. ... George should be No. 1. They should leave No. 2 vacant and the rest of the list should start at No. 3." Madkour again joked, "I love the way that you guys are kissing up to George Bodenheimer this morning, calling him compassionate, what a wonderful boss he is. He's been No. 1 on our list many times, and with your campaign, I think he could return there again" ("Mike & Mike in the Morning," ESPN Radio, 12/15).

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