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The NFL is “weighing the possibility of allowing casino advertisements at stadiums, and owners are expected to make a decision in the next few weeks on whether to allow them,” according to Sam Farmer of the L.A. TIMES. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said, “If you look at us versus other leagues, we are not changing our position on sports gambling and betting against sports teams.” He added, “We have evolved very slowly over this, and in fact have kept a real distance between gambling and the NFL. We intend to keep doing that. But we have frequently modified that over the years. We do it on a regular basis, and we are doing it now” (L.A. TIMES, 3/29). In N.Y., Bart Hubbuch notes Goodell “gave the strongest hints yet that football fans will soon be seeing casino advertising inside stadiums.” Goodell: “That is what we have to decide, and we will be deciding it over the next few weeks.” Jets Owner Woody Johnson said, “It’s an interesting situation because that’s a great segment in which to develop relationships anyway” (N.Y. POST, 3/29).
GOLDEN JUBILEE: The L.A. TIMES’ Farmer notes the league will take applications for the 50th Super Bowl in October “with the intention of picking a site by May 2013.” There has been speculation that the league “would consider Los Angeles to play host to Super Bowl L as it was the site of the first one” (L.A. TIMES, 3/29). In Miami, Barry Jackson reports the Dolphins “want to bid for the 50th Super Bowl, in 2016.” Teams that are interested “will be asked to come forward this summer, with that group also expected to include New Orleans, Tampa, Dallas, perhaps Los Angeles and others.” Goodell “did not answer specifically” when he was asked if the Dolphins “are unlikely to get another Super Bowl without upgrades to Sun Life Stadium.” But he said, “If Miami is one of those cities bidding, we certainly will give it full consideration” (MIAMI HERALD, 3/29). In N.Y., Battista, Borden & Belson note the NFL will “most likely not award” the next Super Bowl site “until early next year.” The league had “hoped that Los Angeles could bid for the anniversary game, but with no new stadium in the works, it is probably too late for the city to get the game” (N.Y. TIMES, 3/29).
PLAY BY THE RULES: The N.Y. TIMES’ Battista, Borden & Belson note the owners yesterday also “changed overtime for the regular season so that it will mirror the postseason rule, which mandates that the team that wins the coin flip cannot win the game on its first possession with a field goal.” The "most significant" of the other rule changes for next season “calls for all turnovers to be automatically reviewed by replay officials without coaches having to use a challenge flag.” The league “does not believe that will add time to games because the clock already stops for turnovers” (N.Y. TIMES, 3/29). In Boston, Greg Bedard notes the NFL owners “tabled several bylaw proposals -- moving the trade deadline back two weeks, creating an injured reserve exception for one player, and expanding rosters to 90 players for training camp, among others -- until the May meetings” (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/29). In Pittsburgh, Ed Bouchette writes the NFL and its owners “cannot seem to decide whether they want increased safety or not, whether to speed up their games or slow them to a crawl.” The owners “sent confusing statements when they voted on rules proposals Wednesday, the final acts of their annual meeting” (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 3/29).
TESTING, 1, 2, TESTING...: Goodell yesterday indicated that he was “willing to move forward on the NFLPA’s request for study of human growth hormone testing if players first make concessions.” USA TODAY’s Jarrett Bell notes the union “wants a population study to get a better idea of normal hormone levels for large NFL players as opposed to other athletes currently factored into the HGH tests.” The union has cited the lack of a study “as reason for its rejection of blood testing.” But Goodell said, “If the population study was the only thing in the way from us reaching an agreement, we’d have an agreement” (USA TODAY, 3/29). Goodell said that the NFL “would go along with the population study, although he indicated there were additional concerns holding up the deal” (N.Y. TIMES, 3/29).
BRINGING IT TO LIGHT: The AP’s Barry Wilner noted most coaches gathered at the meetings this week said that the bounty scandal is “an important subject to address -- with the media and with their players.” Giants coach Tom Coughlin said, "The whole league will talk about it. The commissioner wants the entire league to make sure it's discussed -- to go forward using it as an example, to stress there is no place for that in our league." Panthers coach Ron Rivera said, "It's definitely necessary to mention it." But Steelers coach Mike Tomlin added, "That talk has been around, but for us, it's not something that we've engaged in. We've always been somewhat amused by it. Not that it's amusing, of course" (AP, 3/28). Goodell said that he “plans to consult with the players’ union by the end of the week about disciplinary measures for players involved” in the Saints’ bounty program. Goodell: “I hope that they will be in position to give me a recommendation at that point in time that I can consider” (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 3/28).
Payton (l) and Loomis are courting Parcells
to coach Saints for upcoming season
IN THE COURTS: In DC, Nathan Fenno notes former NFLer Mark Rypien, who became the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit filed Friday by 126 ex-NFLers against the league over head injuries, has “daily memory lapses.” Rypien said, “It got to a point where it made me concerned and now I’m thinking, ‘Gosh, what do the next 10 years look like?’ Then you become a little bit scared.” Rypien added, “We probably put up a good front. We want to make it look like things are OK. But each one of those individuals, like myself, has got issues going on and things that are alarming. I worry about 10 years from now” (WASHINGTON TIMES, 3/29). Former NFL coach Joe Gibbs said, “I’ve got to tell you the truth, I think the NFL always -- from the time I was in it -- was dead serious about the health of the players.” He added, “I can tell you this: that in the NFL, my experience was (with) the best medical people that you could have” (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 3/28).
JOINING THE RANKS: In West Palm Beach, Ben Volin notes Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross has “discovered over the past three years, owning an NFL team is unlike any of his other ventures,” and fellow owners “sympathize with the frustrations of a newcomer to their fraternity.” Johnson said, "Maybe I'm a slow learner, but it's taken me a least a decade to learn what an owner has to do and how to put a team together. You don't come in immediately with a vision of how to put a team together. It takes time." Texans Owner Bob McNair: "There were a lot of things I didn't understand about how the league operated because no one's privy to that except the owners. There's a learning curve, and it doesn't matter what your experience is in some other field. I suspect Steve is experiencing that" (PALM BEACH POST, 3/29).
The Izod IndyCar Series will return to Houston next year after Shell Oil Company signed a multiyear title sponsorship with promoter Mi-Jack Promotions. The Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston will take place at Reliant Park on October 4-6, 2013 (THE DAILY). In Houston, Russ Goodall reports there is a five-year deal between MJP, IndyCar and Reliant Park, while "there's a four-year sponsorship deal between MJP and Shell Oil Co." The Grand Prix of Houston "averaged more than 150,000 fans ... for the three days of racing at Reliant Park" in '06 and '07, when it was part of the Champ Car World Series. However, the race ended after the merger between Champ Car and IndyCar (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 3/29). Team Owner Roger Penske said that Houston is a "major market that is ideal for IndyCar's plans for expansion in the U.S." Driver Helio Castroneves said, "I don't know why we left Houston. But the timing is right now to start all over again, and it's an important market." IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard said that the series is "not only looking for more American venues, but specific markets that will make a 'big difference' to sponsors, team owners and television partners." The '13 schedule has 16 races, and Bernard said that he "wants to add up to three more races by next year, all in American cities" (AP, 3/28).
THE FUTURE'S SO BRIGHT: SPEEDTV.com's Robin Miller reported reps from Austin (Texas), Palm Springs (Calif.), Pocono Raceway, Ft. Lauderdale, Richmond, Phoenix, Portland (Ore.) and Elkhart Lake (Wis.) have either met with Bernard about adding a race "or made it known they'd like to discuss the future." Bernard said the group running Circuit of the Americas in Austin "approached us about having a race next year and we're evaluating it." He added he is "optimistic" about a proposed street course race along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean in Ft. Lauderdale. Miller noted a road course is being built in Palm Springs "that may or may not be finished in time for 2013." There also have been "rumblings that Chicago might want to put on a street race by Lake Michigan and Australia desires bringing back Indy cars" with Australian natives Will Power and Ryan Briscoe, along with New Zealand native Scott Dixon, being regulars on the circuit (SPEEDTV.com, 3/28).