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Patriots Owner ROBERT KRAFT yesterday apologized that "what appears to be an audition video" for his rumored girlfriend RICKI NOEL LANDER became public, according to Mike Florio of PRO FOOTBALL TALK. The tape includes a "four-letter profanity and a fake punch to another actor." Kraft in a statement said, "I tried to help Ricki prepare an audition tape for an upcoming VINCE VAUGHN/OWEN WILSON comedy by reading Wilson’s lines. I never intended that it would be made public and I regret that it has. I think we can all agree that Owen Wilson has nothing to worry about. I am going to stick to my day job” (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 7/11). Kraft in the video portrays a "Yahoo executive, and he tries to persuade Lander to allow him to buy her a drink." In N.Y., Christian Red notes Kraft "even busts out a few dance moves and at the end of the clip throws a faux punch and utters an expletive at a guy who appears to be acting in the role of a bouncer" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/12). In Massachusetts, Mark Farinella notes the video "first appeared on the Boston-based BarstoolSports.com website around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, and received more than 25,000 hits overnight on that site alone." The tape, in which Kraft's dialogue "contains a smattering of sexually suggestive references, is in direct contrast to the image he prefers for his team to project to the public" (Attleboro SUN CHRONICLE, 7/12). The YouTube version of the video yesterday afternoon was pulled by Fox on copyright grounds. However, other websites like Deadspin still have the full video. In addition, an NFL logo appears behind the green screen in the video (THE DAILY).
EVERYBODY'S A CRITIC: In Boston, gossip columnists Fee, Raposa & Johnson ask, "Who leaked the uber embarrassing 'screen test' to the World Wide Web???" Reports indicated that Kraft is "mortified that his 'prank' meant for 'The Internship' screenwriter and star Vince Vaughn went viral." Shortly after Kraft issued "his mea culpa, the suits at Twentieth Century Fox yanked the video from YouTube claiming it contained proprietary information, i.e. the script." A Patriots source said, "The New England Patriots brand is so solid, I cannot believe this thing would be an issue. It's enough to get people to raise their eyebrows. But if there's a string of these kinds of things, and the team is 1-15, it can be an issue." Fee, Raposa & Johnson: "File under: Fumble" (BOSTON HERALD, 7/12). The BOSTON GLOBE writes, "What was Robert Kraft thinking? That was the reaction many people had Wednesday" (BOSTON GLOBE, 7/12). In Providence, Corey Bourassa wrote fans "had to be stunned when this strange video" surfaced (PROVIDENCEJOURNAL.com, 7/11). In Boston, Margery Eagan writes under the header, "Robert Kraft Goes Over Viagra Falls, But It's His Image In A Barrel." Eagan: "You can’t quite believe this is Mr. Robert Kraft, who created a football dynasty in his signature blue shirts with crisp white collars. Creepy. Disturbing. Need to shower" (BOSTON HERALD, 7/12). In Massachusetts, Nick Underhill wrote, "The tape casts Kraft in a different light" (MASSLIVE.com, 7/11). The BOSTON BUSINESS JOURNAL's Galen Moore writes under the header, "Bob Kraft's Painful Audition Tape Just Won't Go Away" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 7/12).
DID HE NEED TO APOLOGIZE? Denver Post columnist Woody Paige said it was necessary for Kraft to apologize "because of his impeccable reputation, what he’s accomplished in the NFL, because of what has happened with him with the loss of his wife the last year." He added, "A man of his background and reputation has to come out, and if he addresses it with humor, even better.” ESPN’s Michael Smith said Kraft needed to address the issue because he has to "go in and explain it to his franchise." Smith: "Kraft runs his organization where if anything is the slightest bit embarrassing, he wants his players to be held accountable for it.” The Patriots are "all about image.” However, L.A. Times columnist Bill Plaschke said Kraft does not “owe us anything.” Plaschke said Kraft “is moving on with his life” and he “should have the right to do that as he chooses." ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan said, "If he went into hiding under his bunker, like his coach often does, then the story has legs.” MacMullan: “He wanted to put this to rest. I thought he did it with the right touch of humor” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 7/11). Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan said the video is “mortifying and embarrassing.” However, Kraft “just has to answer to his family” ("PTI," ESPN, 7/11).
The Blackhawks named PIERRE GAUTHIER Dir of Player Personnel, replacing NORM MACIVER who was promoted to Assistant GM (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 7/10)....The Blues promoted MIKE CARUSO to Senior VP/Marketing & Public Relations, RICH JANKOWSKI to Senior Dir of Media Relations & Team Services and DAN O'NEILL to Assistant Dir of Media Relations (THE DAILY)....Wayne State College named Minnesota State Univ. Assistant AD MIKE POWICKI AD. Powicki, who replaces ERIC SCHOH, will begin his duties July 23 (Wayne State)....SUNY-Maritime College named Monroe College Associate AD HEATHER MACCULLOCH AD (SUNY-Maritime)….Newberry College named former Jaguars Assistant Operations Dir JACK EASTERBY Associate AD/Strategic Operations (Newberry)….Wentworth Institute of Technology named DANIELLE FERRARA AD (Wentworth).
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In London, Ashling O’Connor cites Switzerland Supreme Court documents as showing that former FIFA President JOAO HAVELANGE and his ex-son-in-law, former Brazilian Football Confederation President RICARDO TEIXEIRA, “took multimillion-dollar kickbacks on World Cup contracts.” The docs also “raised questions about how much SEPP BLATTER, the FIFA president, knew of the bribes.” In its “new era of proposed transparency, FIFA published the file on its website.” But the findings “pose the question why the pair were allowed to continue at FIFA if Blatter knew of the kickbacks that took place between 1989 and 1998” (LONDON TIMES, 7/12). Havelange “pocketed at least” US$1.5M and Teixeira “at least” US$12.9M (AFP, 7/11).
WRESTLED AWAY: In Hartford, Christopher Keating reports Connecticut U.S. Senate candidate LINDA MCMAHON “dropped the use of the University of Connecticut Huskies logo from her website Wednesday after a telephone call from the university.” McMahon had been “using the logo under the heading 'HUSKIES for Linda,'" featuring the blue and white Husky dog with a red tongue. Next to the logo were the words "Join the Coalition.'' UConn Associate AD/Communications MICHAEL ENRIGHT said, "They did not have permission to use the logo. They were happy to take it down.'' McMahon is running against former U.S. Rep. CHRISTOPHER SHAYS in the Republican primary (HARTFORD COURANT, 7/12).
IN THE COURTS: In Austin, John Maher reports Full Throttle Managing Partner TAVO HELLMUND, who was “once the face” of Austin’s impending F1 race, has “filed a lawsuit claiming his email account was hacked, allowing someone to obtain and delete some of his personal and business emails, including privileged communications with his attorneys.” The suit claims the hacking “was an invasion of Hellmund’s privacy and violated the Stored Electronic Communications Act” (AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, 7/12).
NAMES: The NASCAR Foundation and the V Foundation for Cancer Research yesterday announced the “completion of a $500,000 donation" to Shands Hospital for Children at the Univ. of Florida. Each foundation donated $250,000 “in support of the pediatric oncology unit (Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL, 7/12)….Devils President, CEO & GM LOU LAMORIELLO, former NHLer MIKE MODANO and NBC’s EDDIE OLCZYK will be inducted into the U.S. Hockey HOF (USA Hockey)….The Univ. of Tennessee women’s basketball head coach emeritus PAT SUMMIT received the Arthur Ashe Courage award and paralyzed Rutgers football player ERIC LEGRAND received the Jimmy V Perseverance Award at the ESPYs last night (ESPN)….Warriors C ANDRIS BIEDRINS reportedly is “in hot water for evading taxes” in his home country of Latvia. Biedrins is “being charged with two other people for evading taxes” on $20,000. If he is found guilty of the charges, the offenses “could carry jail time up to five years” (CSNBAYAREA.com, 7/10)….A Maker’s Mark employee said in an e-mail that the company this summer will offer a limited-edition bottle featuring Univ. of Louisville football coach CHARLIE STRONG. The bottle will be available for purchase beginning July 20 (SBNATION.com, 7/9)….Broncos QB PEYTON MANNING Tuesday purchased a seven-bedroom home in Cherry Hills Village, Colo., for $4.58M (DENVER POST, 7/12)….Hockey HOFer DOUG GILMOUR has listed his four-bedroom home in Toronto for $1.7M (TORONTOSTAR.com, 7/11)….Baseball HOFer HANK AARON recently visited the set of “42,” the movie about late HOFer JACKIE ROBINSON (AJC.com, 7/11)….Red Sox manager BOBBY VALENTINE yesterday attended a screening of his film “BALLPLAYER: PELOTERO,” at Boston’s Coolidge Corner Theatre (BOSTON GLOBE, 7/12)….Rangers G HENRIK LUNDQVIST and his wife, THERESE, welcomed their first child, daughter CHARLISE, on Monday (NYPOST.com, 7/12).
GAME CHANGERS: SportsBusiness Journal again this fall will shine the light on women who are making key contributions in sports business. If you know someone who should be considered for the second annual Game Changers: Women in Sports Business section, please send her name, company/title and -- in 300 words or less -- reason for consideration to firstname.lastname@example.org.