SBD/April 25, 2012/FranchisesPrint All
Louisiana state troopers have now "joined the FBI in an investigation into allegations” that Saints GM Mickey Loomis had his Superdome booth rewired so he could listen to opposing coaches, according to James Varney of the New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE. Saints officials, in response to the allegations from an ESPN report, said that they “regard the story as so scurrilous that legal responses were being considered by the principals, but there did not appear to be any movement on that front Tuesday, and officials offered no answer to a question about lawsuits.” Varney writes the scandal now surrounding Loomis is “just one of those with which the team must cope on the eve” of the NFL Draft. Meanwhile, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell yesterday said that the punishments for players involved in the team’s bounty scandal “are coming ‘soon,’ and hinted they may be severe” (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 4/25). ESPN.com’s Jeffri Chadiha wrote it is “hard enough to imagine" any NFL owner accepting what happened in the bounty scandal, especially because Saints Owner Tom Benson "looked both disconnected from his team and easily dismissed by his subordinates.” But two “highly public controversies surrounding your executive vice president in less than two months?” Chadiha: “It would be best if Benson started thinking about new candidates for the most powerful position in his organization” (ESPN.com, 4/24).
NOT A GOOD LOOK: ESPN’s Michael Smith said the eavesdropping allegations “paint the Saints as this rogue organization.” When combined with the bounty scandal, this is “just not good for their image or the image of the NFL” ("Numbers Never Lie," ESPN2, 4/24). ESPN's Dan Le Batard said, “The problem with the denials, strong though they are coming from the Saints, is they’re coming from people who are banned from the league for lying” (“Dan Le Batard Is Highly Questionable,” ESPN2, 4/24). ESPN’s Michelle Beadle said for the “next couple of generations of football fans that are playing ... this is going to be the punchline for quite some time.” ESPN's Colin Cowherd said, “In my heart, I like the Saints, but now all this stuff -- there’s a kind of a skeevy feel to it.” However, Cowherd said the Saints brand is not “permanently tarnished” and in the “world of social media and blogs and ESPN and all the media and sports radio, there’s another controversy virtually every day” ("SportsNation," ESPN2, 4/24). ESPN’s Marcellus Wiley said “it’s perfect timing to go out there and stop the bleeding” and sign QB Drew Brees to a contract extension (“NFL Live,” ESPN, 4/24).
BURDEN OF PROOF: PRO FOOTBALL TALK’s Mike Florio noted the ESPN report against Loomis “comes several months after the media giant clumsily compensated for its failure to contribute anything meaningful to the Penn State scandal by stirring up a mess at Syracuse that, to date, has failed to stick.” ESPN and “its army of reporters also whiffed on the Saints’ bounty scandal.” Florio wrote ESPN has “an obligation to do more than drop on the audience the notion that Loomis had the ability to monitor conversations among opposing coaches.” The network “needs to explain how that information turned into a tangible strategic edge for the Saints.” Still, that is “not to say the league should ignore the situation,” as the “NFL, or someone, needs to investigate” (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 4/24).
In a move that "appeared on the surface as merely an inevitable title shift or organization shuffle," the Warriors yesterday promoted Assistant GM & VP/Basketball Operations Bob Myers to GM and made former GM Larry Riley Dir of Scouting, according to Rusty Simmons of the S.F. CHRONICLE. At his introductory news conference, Myers "made it clear that the move indicates some bold philosophical changes." Warriors co-Owner Joe Lacob "targeted the then-player representative last year and hired him from the Wasserman Media Group." When Myers came to the team, Lacob "thought he'd develop into the head man within three years." Lacob said, "Frankly, I didn't need another year to figure it out, and we wanted to give him every opportunity to succeed next year by starting the job this week." By promoting Myers this week, the Warriors will have a "clearly defined head of basketball operations for the players' exit interviews this weekend." It makes it "obvious to other GMs whom to call about potential draft-day trades and cleans up communication lines within the Warriors' organization." Myers said that his tenure "will be more authoritarian." He said that he will "still listen to the advice of his basketball-operations and coaching staffs, but said he'll make decisive recommendations" to Lacob (S.F. CHRONICLE, 4/25). Lacob said, "I'd say the one thing that we probably learned is, when you call the Warriors, it's a little confusing. A lot of voices, and I think some people pointed that out. So I think this cleans up the lines of authority, the lines of communications, a little bit. He has proved he's very capable of doing that job." Myers said that he "doesn't plan on bringing in any new members to his staff" (AP, 4/24).
SURPRISE RENEWAL: In DC, Carla Peay notes Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld "was candid" yesterday when asked at a news conference if he "believed he deserved an extension given the Wizards (18-46) have the second-worst record in the NBA." Grunfeld said, "I’ve been doing this job, a job like this, for 22 years, and I think we did some good things. The important thing is Ted (Leonsis, team owner) felt that (I did)." Grunfeld held the team's top posiiton since '03 and has been the "chief architect of several incarnations of the perennially struggling franchise." Grunfeld: "Obviously, we still have a lot of work to do. This is Year 2 of a three-year rebuild, so we’re moving to a direction where we want to be more competitive next year." Peay writes Grunfeld's extension "comes as a surprise to many Wizards fans whose patience has been tested for years" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 4/25). YAHOO SPORTS' Kelly Dwyer noted Grunfeld has "built very good teams, before." He has "built playoff teams in three cities, which not a lot of current NBA GMs can say about themselves" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 4/24).
BIG APPOINTMENT IN BIG APPLE: In N.Y., Frank Isola notes Knicks Owner James Dolan "removed the interim tag from" GM Glen Grunwald's job description yesterday. It was a "great moment for Grunwald and potentially a great one for" coach Mike Woodson, Grunwald’s former college teammate at Indiana Univ. Grunwald "worked the past 11 months as the interim GM after serving under" former Knicks President of Basketball Operations Isiah Thomas and then Donnie Walsh. Grunwald is "well-respected and well-liked around NBA circles." Isola notes Grunwald's appointment "also bodes well for Thomas, who gave Grunwald his first NBA job in Toronto and then hired him" in N.Y. Thomas "remains an unpaid adviser to Dolan" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 4/25).
The Packers yesterday announced plans for their annual shareholders meeting on July 24 at Lambeau Field, but “shareholders will not be allowed to bring guests to this year’s annual meeting, a result of a very successful stock sale earlier this year,” according to Richard Ryman of the GREEN BAY PRESS-GAZETTE. The team in past years “allowed as many as four guests to attend with each shareholder, but with 250,000 new owners of stock, they are concerned the stadium’s meeting capacity of 50,000 could be reached.” All shareholders “must be accommodated if they want to attend the meeting.” If two names appear “on the same share, such as a husband and wife, both may attend the meeting.” In the “case of a custodian for a minor shareholder, both the adult and the minor can attend.” Ryman notes about “half of the new shareholders are from outside the state ... but the number of new shareholders who live in Wisconsin exceeds the total number of shareholders than before the sale.” If half of the new Wisconsin shareholders “attend the meeting, they will fill the stadium.” Therefore the Packers are “asking shareholders to request tickets only if they have firm plans to attend.” Packers President & CEO Mark Murphy said that the team “will re-evaluate the guest policy in future years, after an attendance trend is known.” After a record attendance of 18,707 for the meeting in ‘98, the number “dropped to levels generally from 7,000 to 10,000” (GREEN BAY PRESS-GAZETTE, 4/25).
In L.A., T.J. Simers notes two hours before last night’s Dodgers game, ushers were “stopping fans from lining up for autographs” and telling the fans “they must move to the right and sit down.” But the fans did not get that opportunity for autographs as ushers had not "been given clearance to allow the fans to enter the expensive seats and line up for autographs.” Simers: “The Dodgers have lost connection with their fans, and now those who are showing up are being stopped from fawning over the players” (L.A. TIMES, 4/25).
PHOENIX NOT TAKING FLIGHT: In Phoenix, Paul Coro notes the Suns tonight will play their final home game “without recording a sellout crowd” at U.S. Airways Arena. The shortened schedule “hurt the Suns more than any other team by leaving the East's top draws off their home slate.” The Suns enter tonight's game “with an average home attendance of 15,548, which ranks 21st in the NBA.” This is the team’s “lowest since 1991-92, when they played at Veterans Memorial Coliseum with a capacity of fewer than 15,000.” Their attendance capacity of 84.4% “also ranks 21st” in the league. The Suns last went a season without a sellout “37 years ago” (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 4/25).
PARTING WAYS: ESPN N.Y.’s Rich Cimini cited sources as saying the NFL Jets and their “top college-talent evaluator likely will part ways in the coming weeks … creating a cloud of uncertainty in the organization as it prepares for a critical draft later this week.” Sources said that Jets VP/College Scouting Joey Clinkscales “has drawn interest” from the Raiders. Cimini noted a final decision “hasn't been made, but some believe there will be a mutual parting, with Clinkscales leaving for what would appear to be a lateral move" to work with new Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie (ESPNNY.com, 4/24).
ROYAL PAINS: ESPN's Michael Wilbon said Royals fans are "very worried that what started as an optimistic spring themed ‘Our Time’ could turn into a complete disaster” with the team off to a 3-14 start. The team is hosting the All-Star Game in July, and the concern is there will be "apathy over baseball in general.” ESPN's Tony Kornheiser said fans in K.C. "have been promised that a great farm system was going to lead to a great team." Kornheiser: "They don’t win” ("PTI," ESPN, 4/24).