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SBD/January 14, 2011/FranchisesPrint All
The buzzword around Broncos HQs since John Elway was introduced as Exec VP/Football Operations last week has been "transparency," and the team "has followed through by having Elway break, confirm or clarify news directly via his new Twitter account, and allowing cameras from the team's website inside the interview room," according to Lindsay Jones of the DENVER POST. Part of the process included "securing the '@johnelway' name on Twitter, then teaching Elway how to use the social media site." Elway "sent his first message on Jan. 5 several hours after his introductory news conference, and over the past week" has posted 29 messages. Nearly all of his Tweets have been "related to the Broncos' coaching search," which concluded when the team hired John Fox Thursday. Elway has amassed more than 40,000 followers in a week, "more than any NFL executive other than commissioner Roger Goodell." Jones noted of the seven teams who have conducted or are in the midst of a coaching search, "only the Broncos -- through Elway's Twitter account and the team's website -- have announced their list of candidates and interview schedule, let alone published pictures and video from the interview process, almost in real-time." Candidates "each spoke on camera with a reporter from the team's website before their formal interviews, and those pieces were all published online." Nathan Whitaker, the agent for coaching candidates Perry Fewell and Mike Mularkey, said of the process, "Initially, I cringed when I saw the video come up, and my biggest concern was that, when you're pursuing a new job, you have to make sure not to upset your current employer. ... Beyond that, I think it is fantastic. I love it. Since Sunday, I've gotten calls from people around the league that saw the video and said: 'I had no idea about Perry. He's great'" (DENVER POST, 1/13). CBSSPORTS.com's Clark Judge wrote he liked Elway announcing the hiring of Fox -- "along with other Broncos' news -- via Twitter." Judge: "Finally, someone who cares about getting the message to his constituents" (CBSSPORTS.com, 1/13).
MIND GAMES: Broncos President Joe Ellis said that the "biggest change was the involvement of ... 'a psychologist/headhunter' in the team's interviews" with coaching candidates. Ellis added that the "goal was to 'get underneath' the candidates, to see how they would function in the team's current structure with John Elway as the top football executive, and how they would react to certain situations that are likely to arise." The Broncos "used a consultant whom the Falcons and Chiefs used in their recent searches for a head coach" (DENVER POST, 1/14). ESPN.com's Bill Williamson wrote Fox was the "best candidate" the team interviewed, and his hiring "to resurrect the Broncos from the disastrous Josh McDaniels era was the right call." Williamson: "It was a terrific first move by Elway. The Broncos are inexperienced in the front office with Elway and general manager Brian Xanders. They needed a proven commodity in one facet of the leadership department, and Fox is it" (ESPN.com, 1/13).
Titans Owner Bud Adams Thursday said that the team "will not raise ticket prices" for the '11 season. It is the "second year in a row prices will go unchanged, marking the first such two-year streak since the Titans moved" into LP Field in '99. Adams said, "There are a number [of] pressures to increase our revenues, but this is not a time to raise prices for [our] fans." How the Titans, coming off a 6-10 season, would "handle refunds in the event of a delay or cancellation of the 2011 season is still to be determined" (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 1/14).
IS IT IN THE CARDS? Cardinals Chair & CEO Bill DeWitt Jr. on Wednesday said that he is "hopeful the team will sign" 1B Albert Pujols, whose current deal expires after the '11 MLB season, to a "long-term contract extension before Opening Day." DeWitt indicated that he "doesn’t regard the start of spring training as a firm deadline to announce a deal." Apart from a new contract for Pujols, the Cardinals are "slated to spend more" than $100M on player payroll for '11. DeWitt said that he "doesn’t anticipate any more 'major' upgrades to the roster before Opening Day" (FOXSPORTS.com, 1/13).
YOUTH OF A NATION: In Chicago, Paul Sullivan notes now that GM Jim Hendry has "finished tweaking the Cubs roster, the marketing department gets its chance to sell the product to a somewhat skeptical fan base." But how "difficult will it be to market the Cubs after its fifth-place finish?" Cubs Exec VP and Chief Sales & Marketing Officer Wally Hayward said, "It's more difficult than if we won the World Series last year." Sullivan notes the team's marketing plan will "focus on youth, pointing to the rookie-year successes" of SS Starlin Castro, LF Tyler Colvin and P Andrew Cashner. An ad for the new "Pick 13" ticketing plan features Castro and Yankees SS Derek Jeter (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 1/14).
ALL IN THE FAMILY: In Cleveland, Bill Lubinger notes the "middle man in the Browns' 10-day coaching search" was Professional Sports Representation Inc. Owner Bob LaMonte, whose "influence in Berea now stretches from the team's boardroom to the coach's office." LaMonte represents new Browns coach Pat Shurmur, in addition to team President Mike Holmgren, GM Tom Heckert and Exec VP Bryan Wiedmeier. NFL Senior VP/PR Greg Aiello said that the NFLPA "regulates agents, not the league." NFLPA rules indicate that "dual representation is not prohibited as long as an agent discloses the names of any coaches, general managers or other management types he or she represents" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 1/14).