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SBD/April 27, 2012/FranchisesPrint All
As expected, the Colts selected QB Andrew Luck with the No. 1 overall pick in Thursday’s NFL Draft and the team’s “new era is underway -- officially,” according to Mike Chappell of the INDIANAPOLIS STAR. The team added the “most important piece in its sweeping, ongoing renovation.” Asked about his message for Colts fans, Luck said, "Hope for the best. I'll come in, work hard. ... I feel so grateful to be able to represent the city and be part of the team." Luck on Friday night is “scheduled to be the featured guest at the Colts draft party at Lucas Oil Stadium” (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 4/27). Luck, on his potential marketability: “You want to earn it as a player before you reap all the benefits. Try to do things that fit your personality, do things that are obviously in good taste as well. It’s a fun part of being an athlete that you can have endorsement deals” (“Squawk on the Street,” CNBC, 4/26). Luck appeared on CBS’ “Late Night” last night and said he spent his early childhood in London and Germany as his father, current WVU AD Oliver Luck, was working for NFL Europe “which is now defunct.” Letterman: “Nice job, dad” (“Late Show,” CBS, 4/26).
GAIN IN CAPITOL: The Redskins selected QB Robert Griffin III with the No. 2 pick and in DC, Jason Reid writes after “more than a decade’s worth of head-scratching personnel moves, silly fantasy-football roster management and self-inflicted public relations disasters -- all against a backdrop of also-ran seasons -- [Redskins Owner Daniel] Snyder may have finally found the type of game-changer he needs to restore the District’s most popular sports franchise.” If Griffin “wins big in Washington, his performance will transform the public image of Snyder from meddlesome tyrant to gutsy leader” (WASHINGTON POST, 4/27). Also in DC, Rich Campbell writes Griffin “instantly becomes the franchise’s biggest star and the face of the organization” (WASHINGTON TIMES, 4/27). The WASHINGTON TIMES’ Mike DeFabo writes under the header, “Fans Hope RG3 Pick Alters Course Of Franchise” (WASHINGTON TIMES, 4/27).
GONE FISHING: In Miami, David Neal writes for the “first time in 29 years, the Dolphins placed their biggest bet in the craps game that is the NFL Draft on a quarterback,” selecting QB Ryan Tannehill with the No. 8 pick. Tannehill is the “first quarterback the Dolphins have used a first-round pick on since they chose future Hall of Famer Dan Marino.” But Tannehill said, “I don’t think there’s any pressure or anything like that from that connection (to Marino)” (MIAMI HERALD, 4/27). In Ft. Lauderdale, Dave Hyde notes the team has “tried 16 different quarterbacks since age caught that '83 draft pick, Dan Marino,” and it “finally did what odds show is the best way to find one” (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 4/27). Also in Ft. Lauderdale, Craig Davis notes the “hundreds of supporters jammed into the fan party Thursday at Sun Life Stadium sounded a loud cheer” when the Tannehill pick was announced. There were “some boos and a few emphatic gestures of dissent," but the “prevailing feeling seemed to be that the Dolphins made the right call, for a change.” With ticket sales “dwindling and disenchantment growing, the franchise is clearly feeling the heat.” The choice of Tannehill “can be viewed as the safe pick,” particularly amid “several reports that it was the one favored by” team Owner Stephen Ross (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 4/27). Ross said of Tannehill, “I mean that was a player that we wanted and it’s really exciting. I mean I’m thrilled. I’ve always said that we really needed to be strong at the quarterback position and I think now that’s one of the strengths of our team.” He added, “I don’t know if that energizes the fan base. What’s going to energize the fan base is winning. And I’m looking to build a winning team because you know energizing a fan base only lasts a very short period of time. We’re talking about winning in the long haul and being consistent and building the team that’s going to be around for a long time” (SUN-SENTINEL.com, 4/27). The SUN-SENTINEL’s Izzy Gould writes Tannehill’s task now is to “help lead the Dolphins out of the darkest period in franchise history including three straight losing seasons.” Team GM Jeff Ireland said, "I didn't take him with the eighth pick in the draft to be a backup quarterback" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 4/27). But in Miami, Armando Salguero writes “not every Dolphins fan is happy the Dolphins picked Tannehill.” The reaction has "already been mixed with the lukewarm response coming from people who wanted a ready-made star in exchange for such a high pick” (MIAMI HERALD, 4/27).
There was "so much going on Thursday night at the Time Warner Cable Arena that you could almost forget the sad fact on the floor, which was that the Charlotte Bobcats were hurtling straight to the butt end of history," as the team lost to the Knicks to end the season with the worst winning percentage in NBA history, according to a front-page piece by Tommy Tomlinson of the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER. In some ways, "this was by design." The Bobcats "spent the last two years dumping almost all their best players, because in the NBA, the best way for a middling team to get better is to hit bottom." The problem is, the Bobcats "still asked fans to buy tickets and watch this terrible team." Most fans, "having good sense, stayed home." Team Owner Michael Jordan "attended the finale but didn’t speak to the media." The "only time he was mentioned all night was when a whole row of fans won free Jordan sneakers." But there was a "buzz in the air on the concourse, and all those transplanted New Yorkers came to cheer on the Knicks, and it felt like a live night in the city" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 4/27). In N.Y., Lynn Zinser writes the Bobcats have "done it all with the best player in NBA history grimacing." When seen, Jordan "rarely stops scowling." TNT's Mike Fratello, who called last night's game, said that it would "only be fair to judge Jordan on the Bobcats’ rebuilding after it was truly under way." He said, "The best thing that can happen is for all the Ping-Pong balls to fall their way, get the No. 1 pick, pick the kid from Kentucky and they’re on their way." Zinser writes the Bobcats "clearly have joined a club no team wants to join, although the worst-ever debates do tend to be fun and colorful." However, one problem for the Bobcats is that they "have not added any charm to their losing ways." Fans are "not wearing paper bags." The players are "not performing pratfalls on the court." It is "not so tough to find a villain, though, and many have decided it is Jordan" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/27).
NOT SOMETHING TO CHERISH: Bobcats coach Paul Silas said, "The season itself was a long haul for all of us -- upstairs and downstairs. Being the worst team in the history of the game is not something you cherish." Before last night's game, Bobcats G Gerald Henderson addressed the crowd, saying, "I know it’s been a tough year. We’ll be working all summer to turn this thing around" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 4/27). The AP's Steve Reed writes this year's Bobcats were "everything Jordan wasn't as a player -- unproductive, uncompetitive and unwatchable." With the current roster, the Bobcats "lack a face for the franchise, at least on the court." Reed: "All that's on Jordan. His reputation as an executive continues to take hit after hit" (AP, 4/27).
ON THE AIR: Regarding TNT airing the Bobcats' record-setting game Thursday, NBA TV's Jared Greenberg asked, "How do you arrange this: Knicks-Bobcats season finale?" TNT Analyst Charles Barkley responded, "I think the commissioner was mad at us." Barkley, in regards to Jordan, "Michael Jordan is one of my great friends. He's getting killed, and rightfully so, because the Bobcats stink and he has to take full responsibility for that. ... I hate to say that, but he deserves it. They have not done a good job. I mean, that's embarrassing, the situation they're in now, but you just got to take it" ("NBA GameTime," NBA TV, 4/26).
The Celtics "have remained in stride with the most recent social media trends" due to the efforts of team President Rich Gotham, CMO Shawn Sullivan and Senior Dir of Interactive Media Peter Stringer, according to Chad Finn of the BOSTON GLOBE. The Celtics have approximately 6.4 million "likes" on Facebook, "the second-largest following in North American sports behind the Lakers." They were also the "first team in the NBA with a Facebook app ('Celtics 3-Point Play'), and Stringer runs a popular [online] chat during games." Prior to a recent Celtics home game, Stringer held a pregame contest via Twitter. It was "a challenge to the roughly 450,000 followers of @Celtics: He gives his location, then promises that the first person to find him will get an upgrade of two tickets near courtside." Finn notes what the Celtics "do not have is a smartphone app, though one is in the works." Gotham said, "We're in the process of surveying our fans as to what functionality they would truly value, both inside and outside of the arena, and results of over 5,000 show there's great demand for Celtics mobile content." Stringer: "We generated 90,000 fans from Facebook during the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons, and it helped generate in the range of $200,000 in ticket revenue. And Pinterest in particular is an interesting new avenue in terms of online commerce" (BOSTON GLOBE, 4/27).
Saints GM Mickey Loomis appeared on NBC’s “PFT Live” Thursday with Mike Florio and discussed recent allegations that he had his Superdome suite wiretapped to listen to opposing teams’ coaches. Loomis said, “I have never ever in my 28 years or 29, whatever it has been in the NFL, listened to or ever thought I had the ability to listen to opposing coaches’ headsets; what was being said on the headset. It is ludicrous as far as I’m concerned.” ESPN’s “OTL” released the report and Loomis said the net's reporter “has been in New Orleans for the last 30 days.” Loomis: “He has been calling around talking to some of our current employees, some of our former employees and asking for anything that might reflect negatively on Sean Payton or Mickey Loomis or the organization.” The NFL as well as the Louisiana state police have launched an investigation into the allegations. Loomis: “I welcome an investigation because, again, it is not true.” Loomis said the Saints are “going to explore” legal action and if it is “available, then we will pursue it” (“PFT Live,” NBC, 4/26). Loomis said, "One of the disappointing things for me is that our organization has been painted with a pretty broad brush." Loomis said that he “may have an idea of whom ESPN used as a source.” Loomis: "I might, but I wouldn't accuse someone unless I was absolutely sure. And unfortunately, I didn't get that consideration from the reporter at ESPN. I received a voicemail on my mobile phone an hour and a half before they broke the story" (USA TODAY, 4/27).
The Lackawanna County (Pa.) Multipurpose Stadium Authority on Thursday formally ratified by a 4-1 vote the sale of the Triple-A Int'l League Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees to SWB Yankees LLC, a joint partnership between the MLB Yankees and Mandalay Baseball Properties, completing a deal more than 18 months in development. The $14.6M sale of the team formally sets in motion a long-planned $43.3M renovation of PNC Field, the club's ballpark, in time for the '13 season. The deal experienced many delays as public officials at various points questioned the operational tenure of Mandalay over the minor-league team, the sale price thought to be low by Triple-A standards and a wide variety of other details. "We've now forged a very strong partnership with the county and have a shared vision of having this be one of the very top franchises in Minor League Baseball," said Mandalay Baseball Properties CEO Art Matin. "This feels like a new beginning. The road to getting the deal is done, but there's still a lot of work in front of us. But we're now into the fun part of the work." The PNC Field work will require a substantial overhaul of the aging facility in just 11 months, as the Int'l League has no plans to recreate the team's nomad schedule this year in which will play "home" games in six other cities. "Would we like an additional six months? Sure, who wouldn't? But we're going into this believing and fully committed to the notion that we're going to be ready at the end of March for next year's Opening Day," Matin said. Demolition work at PNC Field will begin as soon as Friday. The deal between the county and SWB Yankees LLC includes a 30-year stadium lease with two additional 10-year options.