SBD/March 26, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Player Safety, Policy Tweaks Are Main Issues For This Week's NFL Owners' Meetings

Clinton spoke to NFL owners about economy, childhood obesity
The NFL's annual meetings fully kicks off this morning in Palm Beach, Fla., with player safety and tweaks to some of the game’s rules and injured reserve policies topping the agenda. Former President Bill Clinton spoke last night to owners for about 90 minutes, though he was late appearing. He spoke about his charitable foundation, and how the league can be a bridge between business and government on the issue of childhood obesity, said Lions President Tom Lewand. The NFL’s Play 60 initiative seeks to make children physically active. Lewand said his 8-year-old daughter asked the president how his foundation chooses which projects to fund. Clinton also spoke positively about the state of the economy, said a league source. The presentation was off limits to reporters, and no tweeting from inside the room was allowed. The league this week will also discuss whether to allow casino advertising, and the NFL, as is usual at these meetings, will offer owners’ league financial projections. Stadium financing, the U.K. games and technology are also on the agenda. Several proposals are up for vote, including extending the playoff overtime rules to the regular season, and making all replay reviews decided in the booth and not by a field official. The meetings are scheduled to end around noon on Wednesday (Daniel Kaplan, SportsBusiness Journal). In St. Louis, Jim Thomas notes there are also “several proposals to change league bylaws.” One would “move back the trading deadline from the sixth week to the eighth week of the regular season.” Another would expand the training-camp roster “to 90 players instead of the traditional 80-player limit, but with the proviso that any unsigned draft picks count against the 90” (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 3/26). In N.Y., Bart Hubbuch cites a league source as saying that suspended Saints coach Sean Payton and GM Mickey Loomis “plan to attend the meetings in a move that could cause some awkward moments” (N.Y. POST, 3/26).

CAP SPACE: In Boston, Greg Bedard noted as agents “craft contracts for their clients during this free agency period and beyond, they are looking toward” the ’14 cap size as “sort of a pot of gold.” Patriots Owner Robert Kraft “doesn’t see a huge cap bump coming” in ‘14. Kraft said, “I don’t really see that happening. I think there’s going to be a smooth growth. I don’t think what happened in ’06 will happen in the future here.” Bedard noted the cap in ’06 increased 19.3% from $85.5M to $102M as part of the CBA extension. If something similar “doesn’t happen in 2014, players and agents will be upset, and teams that believed the wrong information and back-loaded contracts will be in worse cap shape than they anticipated” (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/25).
INTERNATIONAL BIZ: The NFL has sold the first batch of 60,000 tickets to its annual regular-season U.K. game, said NFL Senior VP/International Chris Parsons. He added that it took about three to four weeks to sell them,. Of the remaining 24,000 tickets at Wembley Stadium, about 19,000 belong to the teams, the NFL, sponsors, and broadcasters, he said. The remaining 5,000 tickets will be put on sale around September. Last year the game did not sell out, the first time that occurred since regular-season games were launched in the U.K. in ‘07, in part because of a long delay in selling them caused by the lockout. Owners at the annual meeting will hear about the ticketing progress, and last year’s broadcast ratings, Parsons said. There will not be a discussion about whether in ‘13 there will be more than one game in the U.K., Parsons said. The owners authorized the league to be able to play more than one game in the U.K. if possible. The ‘12 game is scheduled for October 28 between the Patriots and Rams (Kaplan).
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