SBD/January 6, 2011/FranchisesPrint All
Broncos Owner Pat Bowlen yesterday introduced Pro Football HOFer John Elway as the team's new Exec VP/Football Operations, saying Elway "will return this team to a very high level of competitiveness," according to Mike Klis of the DENVER POST. Elway's post is "no figurehead position," and he is "not filling a de facto executive role that requires little more than filling out foursomes with sponsors." He will have "final say on all football decisions," including being the "loudest voice on the new head coach hire." Elway: "Obviously, Mr. Bowlen has given me the power to overrule anybody. But if I ever were to do that, it would only be in the sense that it has to be the best thing for the Denver Broncos" (DENVER POST, 1/6). In Denver, Dave Krieger writes Elway "wowed a roomful of generally skeptical media wretches Wednesday with passion, candor and humility." Krieger: "By the time it was over, the fan base was back on board after the most dispiriting Broncos season in memory, which, let's face it, had to be part of the organization's calculation" (DENVER POST, 1/6).
MAKING MOVES: The DENVER POST's Klis & Legwold reported the Broncos have promoted COO Joe Ellis to President. Bowlen will remain CEO, but he "hands off his President title to Ellis," who now is "officially running the team on a day-to-day basis." Elway "reports to Ellis." The Broncos also retained Brian Xanders as GM (DENVER POST, 1/6). In Denver, Woody Paige notes Bowlen "will assume an even lower profile than he's maintained since the hiring" of former coach Josh McDaniels in January '09. Bowlen's "reputation in Denver and around the league has taken a major hit; it was wondered if he had control of the Broncos any longer, and there were cries for the owner to sell the team." But with the addition of Elway, Bowlen is "feisty, sanguine and competitive again" (DENVER POST, 1/6).
Oracle CEO Larry Ellison confirmed yesterday that he "recently failed" in an attempt to buy the Hornets, fewer than six months after his "surprising loss in a bidding war" for the Warriors, according to Brandon Bailey of the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS. Ellison said he was "slightly outbid" by the NBA, which last month bought the Hornets from George Shinn and Gary Chouest. Ellison: "I did offer $350 million." Ellison's comments followed a Forbes report claiming that he "planned to buy the team and move it to San Jose." Ellison said that he "had not made up his mind about what to do with the Hornets, had he been able to buy them." Ellison: "I was trying to buy the team first, and then figure out what I was going to do with it." If Ellison did move a team to San Jose, it potentially "could become roommates" with the Sharks at HP Pavilion. Silicon Valley Sports & Entertainment Exec VP/Business Operations Malcolm Bordelon yesterday said that he is "aware of the speculation and that the Sharks' owners were 'by all means' interested in sharing the arena with a pro basketball team." Bordelon said the Sharks have had "virtually no discussions" with Ellison, but added, "We are obviously open to having those discussions." Joe Lacob, who along with Peter Guber outbid Ellison for the Warriors, yesterday "seemed to suggest that he would not be eager to share that market with another team." Lacob in an e-mail said, "We bought the Golden State Warriors; that is, the NBA team of Oakland, San Jose and San Francisco, the Bay Area. We feel that we paid a full but fair price for THAT opportunity" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 1/6).
SECOND CHANCE: In the original report, FORBES' Mike Ozanian cited a source as saying that Ellison "would be more than happy to pony up $450 million for the Hornets," including a relocation fee due to the Warriors estimated to be $100-150M, "given the improved economics for NBA teams that will be the result" of the new CBA (FORBES.com, 1/5). CSNBAYAREA.com's Ray Ratto said, "There's another piece to this and that is that Ellison loathes the fact that he didn't get the Warriors. He thinks he got gamed, and he's very angry with Lacob and Guber for getting the team" ("Chronicle Live," Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, 1/5).
ROOT FOR THE HOME TEAM? In Oakland, Dave Newhouse writes now is an "opportune time to rename" the Warriors to carry Oakland, and not Golden State, in their name. The change is "long overdue -- 39 seasons in Oakland to be exact." Lacob and Guber are "reluctant to make this change, leaving themselves open to moving the team one day," and they have "already alluded to this possibility." Newhouse: "Going back to San Francisco? Relocating to San Jose? These rumors are out there constantly. ... Oakland is the best place for the Warriors, by all degrees of sanity. Why Lacob and Guber can't see this is beyond all reason. Who'd want to watch these odorous Warriors elsewhere?" (OAKLAND TRIBUNE, 1/6).
The WPS BOG has "approved the Washington Freedom's request to play some home matches in South Florida this season, increasing the likelihood that the franchise will leave" the DC area altogether, according to Steve Goff of the WASHINGTON POST. Freedom Owner Dan Borislow, who bought the team in November, "lives in Florida and operates a communications business there." WPS Dir of Communications Rob Penner said that the league has granted Borislow "approval to play some games in Florida for 'trial purposes,' contingent on the team identifying a stadium that meets league standards." It remains unclear "how many, if any, games would be played" at Maryland SoccerPlex, the Freedom's home for the first two WPS seasons. Maryland SoccerPlex Exec Dir Trish Heffelfinger said that the franchise's "office lease at the facility expires Feb. 8 and the club has indicated it does not plan to extend it." Goff noted "only one Freedom employee is still based there." In addition, Borislow "plans to re-brand the franchise with the name of one of his business products." The Freedom are one of only three original WPS teams that "remain in business," along with Sky Blue FC and the Boston Breakers (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 1/5).
MLB Rangers President Nolan Ryan acknowledged that the team's payroll in '11 could reach $100M for the first time since '03 "after they agreed to terms" with 3B Adrian Beltre on a six-year, $96M contract. Ryan said, "That's just where it's going to be. It's what we budgeted for. Obviously, a lot of factors come into play, but we feel positive about the ballclub and we feel positive about the way our fans have responded. You have to be aggressive and be positive, and that's the position we're taking" (MLB.com, 1/5). In Ft. Worth, Randy Galloway writes the "free agency plunge on Beltre sent much needed word to a whole new world of adoring fandom that said, 'Hey, we're still here, still out here in Arlington. See you in April.'" The Rangers made an "off-season splash in an off-season momentum-building moment" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 1/6).
THIS BUD'S FOR YOU: In Nashville, John Glennon wrote the lack of a new NFL CBA "could impact Jeff Fisher's future" because Titans Owner Bud Adams "might be more prone to hold onto" his coach with fears of a work stoppage. Whether Adams "chooses to keep Fisher or not, he’ll be paying him $6.5 million during a 2011 season that could be shortened -- or canceled -- because of a lockout." Glennon: "Would Adams really want to pay two head coaches to potentially twiddle their thumbs during a lockout?" (TENNESSEAN.com, 1/5). SI.com's Don Banks reported Adams is "said to be very hesitant to undergo a coaching change amid the uncertainty brought on by the league's looming CBA negotiation and potential labor unrest" (SI.com, 1/5).
CAT SCRATCH FEVER: In Charlotte, Tommy Tomlinson writes NFL Panthers Owner Jerry Richardson in his press conference Tuesday “simultaneously came off as irritable, cheap, confused, obstinate and a bit of a bully,” as he “batted away legitimate questions like blowflies.” Richardson indicated it was a “positive that the Panthers let go several key veterans” prior to the season and acknowledged that he knew former coach John Fox “preferred to play veterans.” But Richardson “kept Fox as coach anyway.” Tomlinson: “The only logical explanation is financial. The Panthers saved money on players this season and might save money on coaches next season, especially if there’s a player strike or lockout” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 1/6).
WE ARE WHO WE ARE: In N.Y., Steve Serby profiles Woody Johnson, who "loves being the Jets owner, and does not in the least hate the fact that after the Ines Sainz fiasco, after the Braylon Edwards DUI, after the Sal Alosi black eye, after the foot-fetish stories and most recently a lawsuit filed by former club massage therapists, and after all the braggadocio from [Rex] Ryan, his team is the Team They Love to Hate." Johnson yesterday said, "I think it's great. Whatever feeling they have, as long as it’s a vivid feeling. I think it’s more positive than having apathy or any of that. I’m glad they feel strongly about us." He added, "I don't mind it at all, no. People are gonna like us. People aren’t gonna like us. But we’re gonna be who we are" (N.Y. POST, 1/6).