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It’s time to make your opinion known as the 8th annual SportsBusiness Journal/SportsBusiness Daily Reader Survey is underway. The survey features more than 100 questions across leagues, teams, facilities, sponsorship, media, and more.
* Who is the most influential sports executive?
* Who is the most marketable athlete?
* What’s the biggest sports business story of the year?
* What’s the most powerful brand in sports?
* What’s the best sports event to attend?
* Who are the best play-by-play personalities and game analysts on TV?
* Who are the most admired sponsors?
Those are some of the questions you'll find in this year’s survey. Cast your votes and then see highlights of the results the week of Nov. 26. We want to hear from you.
Former Lions All-Pro ALEX KARRAS died this morning at the age of 77 due to kidney failure. He played from ’58-70 and was named to the NFL’s All-Decade team for the ’60s. Funeral services are pending (Lions). In Detroit, Dave Birkett notes Karras “had battled cancer and dementia.” He also was “part of a large group of former players suing the NFL for head trauma” (FREEP.com, 10/10).
LEAVING HIS MARK IN HOLLYWOOD: ESPN’s Trey Wingo said few players have “made the transition from the fields of the NFL to the bright lights of Hollywood better” than Karras. Wingo: “As dominant as he was on the field, Karras’ true claim to fame came after his playing days.” He starred in the ‘80s television show “WEBSTER” and said “one of the greatest lines in movie history” in MEL BROOKS’ film “BLAZING SADDLES” when he said, “Mongo only pawn in game of life” (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 10/10). The FREE PRESS’ Birkett notes Karras “played himself in the 1968 film ‘PAPER LION,’ based on GEORGE PLIMPTON’s book about his training camp tryout” with the Lions. In addition to “Blazing Saddles,” Karras “took another memorable turn as a crooked sheriff” in the ’82 release “PORKY'S.” He also served as an analyst on “MNF” from ’74-76 alongside HOWARD COSELL and FRANK GIFFORD. His famously said after seeing steam rise from the Raiders’ OTIS SISTRUNK that Sistrunk was from the “University of Mars” (FREEP.com, 10/10). Lions President TOM LEWAND in a statement earlier this week said, “Perhaps no player in Lions history attained as much success and notoriety for what he did after his playing days as did Alex” (AP, 10/10).
SUSPENSION ONLY BLEMISH: In a special to SI.com, Len Pasquarelli notes the “most notable blemish” during Karras’ playing career was when then-NFL Commissioner PETE ROZELLE suspended Karras and PAUL HORNUNG for the ’63 season “after they admitted to betting on NFL games.” Karras “spent some of the year-long suspension wrestling” (SI.com, 10/10). In L.A., Sam Farmer notes after returning to the Lions in ’64, Karras “poked fun at his own reputation, once refusing when a referee asked him to call the pregame coin toss” (LATIMES.com, 10/10).
Red Wings PA announcer BUDD LYNCH, "a part of the Red Wings' brand," passed away Tuesday at the age of 95, according to George Sipple of the DETROIT FREE PRESS. Lynch, the club's "longest-tenured employee, began working for the organization in 1949, hired by then-general manager JACK ADAMS to do play-by-play on radio and TV." He never left, and for the last 27 years "served as the team’s public-address announcer." He died yesterday morning "after a brief illness at a Detroit-area rehabilitation center." Others who worked with Lynch in the press box "remembered a cheerful man who had a passion for hockey." Red Wings Owner MIKE ILITCH in a statement said, "Hearing Budd's voice on the radio and over the public address at Joe Louis Arena was something that every Red Wings fan looked forward to and loved" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 10/10).
STAPLE OF THE MOTOR CITY: In Detroit, Ted Kulfan notes Lynch had been the Red Wings' PA announcer since '85, "the same year he received the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award from the Hockey Hall of Fame for outstanding contributions as a hockey broadcaster." He was "inducted into the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame in 2005 and received the Ty Tyson Award for Excellence in Sports Broadcasting issued by the Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association" (DETROIT NEWS, 10/10). FS DETROIT's Art Regner writes Lynch's tenure with the Red Wings was "amazing." Regner: "Players come and go, but Budd Lynch was always there ... as a television and radio broadcaster, then as an announcer and later, for me, as a colleague and friend." Lynch's "laid back style -- letting the game come to him instead of creating some hysterical diatribe about something that wasn't really happening -- was his gift." Budd Lynch "said a lot by not saying too much" (FOXSPORTSDETROIT.com, 10/9).
Sports research and consulting firm Repucom named WPP’s MediaCom Sport Dir CHARLIE DUNDAS Exec VP for the U.K. and Ireland, GERALD POWELL consultant, SVENJA SIMON Global Head Of Media and former EPL club West ham United Senior Business Development Manager MATT TIMBRELL Business Development Manager. The firm also also hired former head of Mindshare consultancy mSport ED WOLLER to lead its new consultancy service (Repucom).
EXECS: Topps Co. promoted VP & GM Global Confectionery MICHAEL BRANDSTAEDTER to COO (Topps)....Nike named Burberry Social Media Marketing Dir MUSA TARIQ Global Dir of Social Media Marketing. Additionally, Global Dir of Brand Communication ED ELWORTHY "is taking a sabbatical" from the company. He is "expected to return" in the spring (MARKETINGMAGAZINE.co.uk, 10/9)….The Spurs named MATT MEINERS Manager of Statistical Development, BRANDON JAMES Manager of Basketball Administration and TRAJAN LANGDON pro scout. The club also promoted NBA D-League Austin Toros Basketball Operations Assistant SEAN MARKS to Toros Basketball Operations Dir & GM (Spurs)….Sioux Falls Sports Authority Exec Dir MIKE SULLIVAN announced that he is “retiring effective the end of the year, ending a five-year run” in the position (Sioux Falls ARGUS LEADER, 10/9)….The USFL named CJ OLIVARES and ROBERT GRAFF to its Board of Advisors (USFL).
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ESPN college basketball analyst LEN ELMORE was “treated by paramedics after collapsing” yesterday during a meeting of the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics. Elmore is a “member of the blue-ribbon reform panel of education, sports and business leaders." He "collapsed" around 11:30am ET "but was seen on his feet about 15 minutes later.” Commission co-Chair and SMU President GERALD TURNER said that Elmore “had said he’d experienced similar episodes that are related to an ongoing health issue that Turner did not specify” (USA TODAY, 10/10).
GETTING POLITICAL: The Olympic Council of Ireland has made golfer RORY MCILROY “an offer it hopes he can't refuse.” OCI President PAT HICKEY said, "I will say to Rory that if he declares for Ireland, then he will automatically put himself in pole position to carry the Irish tricolor into the Olympic Stadium in Rio.” McIlroy as a native of Northern Ireland is “eligible to play for both Ireland and Great Britain in 2016, when golf is re-introduced to the Olympics for the first time since 1904” (GOLFCHANNEL.com, 10/9)....CBS college basketball analyst GREG ANTHONY appears in a MITT ROMNEY ad “saying he voted for PRESIDENT OBAMA but has ‘lost faith’ in him and likes Romney as a ‘no-excuses kind of guy.’” CBS Sports VP/Communications JEN SABATELLE said the net “declines to comment” (USA TODAY, 10/10).
DUTY CALLS: USA TODAY’s Mike Snider reports Nationals P STEPHEN STRASBURG and several members of the team including P DREW STOREN, LF MICHAEL MORSE and C JESUS FLORES “played ‘Call of Duty: Black Ops’ during the offseason as a way to keep in touch.” Strasburg is “so into ‘Call of Duty’ that he visited the game’s developer Treyarch in late April when the team was in Los Angeles to play the Dodgers to get a sneak peek at ‘Black Ops II,’ due out Nov. 13” (USA TODAY, 10/10).
STRONG CONTRIBUTION: ESPN.com’s Michael Rothstein reported Univ. of Michigan football coach BRADY HOKE “purchased more than 40 #chuckstrong T-shirts for his staff to wear on Saturday when the Wolverines play Illinois.” Michigan Associate Dir/Public & Media Relations for Football JUSTIN DICKENS said that the shirts will be “worn by Hoke and the staff during the day leading up to the game but not during the game itself.” Dickens added that Hoke “paid for the shirts, valued at $20 each on the Colts website, himself” (ESPN.com, 10/9).
NAMES: Late Blue Jays radio announcer TOM CHEEK and longtime Expos and current Blue Jays French-speaking radio announcer JACQUES DOUCET “are among 10 finalists for the Ford C. Frick Award.” The finalists “were announced Tuesday and the award will be presented at the baseball winter meetings on Dec. 4” (CP, 10/9)....The Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation has “reconstructed four city rinks and given kids a place to play hockey” with a $6.5M contribution to “match a grant from the Commonwealth’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program” (PHILLY.com, 10/9)….Panthers RB JONATHAN STEWART will “contribute $250,000 toward the construction of the state-of-the-art Casanova Center expansion project, which will house the athletics department’s entire football operations.” Stewart’s donation to the Univ. of Oregon will be "specifically earmarked for endowment of the Running Backs’ Squad Room, which will be located in the teaching wing of the 135,000 square-foot facility” (OREGONLIVE.com, 10/9)....Houghton MifflinHarcourt has moved up the publishing date of “Francona: The Red Sox Years.” The book by new Indians Manager TERRY FRANCONA and Boston Globe columnist DAN SHAUGHNESSY was “previously scheduled to hit shelves in May, but will now go on sale Feb. 5” (BOSTON GLOBE, 10/10)….Athletes First has commissioned sports & entertainment publicity firm CMPR for areas of exclusive representation in publicity, events, branding as well as social and digital media (CMPR).
IN MEMORY: Former Chicago Daily News and Chicago Sun-Times sports editor JOE REIN passed away yesterday at the age of 99. Rein “worked his way up from a part-time copy boy at the Daily News to its sports editor when the newspaper closed in 1977.” He then “served as the sports editor of the Sun-Times.” Rein’s sports career “spanned 49 years” (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 10/10).