SBD/November 5, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NFL Looking Into Launch Of Developmental League; Vote Could Come In Spring '13

A potential NFL developmental league is something league officials have "studied in the past, and it’s really come into focus now with the demise of the UFL," according to Jason La Canfora of CBS. There are people on the NFL Competition Committee "who believe there could be a four- to six-team bus league where it replaces what used to be the World League of Football, and you have guys here in the spring playing in smaller U.S. cities." La Canfora: "Scouts can be there, it’s easy to get around. This is something that could come before the owners for a vote in the spring at that ownership meeting if they can build a consensus within the competition committee on exactly which plan to move forward with” (“The NFL Today,” CBS, 11/4).

CROSSING THE POND: In Boston, Greg Bedard wrote, “I was very impressed with the Rams-Patriots game in London." Wembley Stadium last Sunday was “packed, the crowd was into it, the turf was superb, and there were no problems from an operational standpoint that I could see.” It had a “big-game atmosphere, somewhat akin to a Super Bowl in that both games have a sizable contingent that isn’t totally familiar with the game.” Ticket prices “started at $75.” But when the NFL “finally puts a team there -- and it’s coming after Los Angeles, because the owners want it -- my advice after talking to a few fans is for the NFL to ignore its sizable ego and slash ticket prices” (BOSTON GLOBE, 11/4). SI’s L. Jon Wertheim writes, “The league hasn’t given up its global ambitions. And what better place to establish a beachhead than the U.K.?” Wertheim: “There’s a rich sporting culture. No language barrier. A wealth of potential TV partners.” The cynic “might point out that the U.K.’s lax regulations on sports gambling also tip the odds in the NFL’s favor” (SI, 11/5 issue).

SEEING IS BELIEVING: All Week 9 NFL games sold out for TV, marking the third consecutive weekend and fifth time this season that all games were televised locally. Ninety-seven percent of games sold out for local TV -- the third highest rate through Week 9 and up from 94% at this point last season. Paid attendance through eight weeks was up more than 1,000 per game to 65,610 from 64,609 in ’11 (NFL). PRO FOOTBALL TALK’s Michael David Smith wrote, “There are, however, a few caveats. For starters, blackouts are down in part because the NFL changed the rules this year to make it easier for teams to get blackouts lifted in their home markets.” When some teams have already played five home games and other teams have only played three, it is “possible that an attendance increase could just be a statistical quirk related to teams with bigger stadiums having had more home games.” It is also “entirely possible that we’ll see an uptick in blackouts over the second half of the season.” In addition to “more blackouts in San Diego and Tampa, we could easily see blackouts over the second half of the season in places like Oakland, Cleveland, Cincinnati and Jacksonville” (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 11/2).

PAYTON’S PLACE
: ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter cited sources as saying that “within the past year, the multiyear contract extension the Saints announced for Sean Payton in September 2011 was voided by the NFL, making the suspended head coach a free agent after this season.” Sources said that as “recently as March, when Payton was visiting NFL offices to appeal his yearlong suspension in the bounty scandal, he asked NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for the status of his contract extension and was told it was unsatisfactory as it initially was constituted.” Sources also said that “at issue in the contract was one specific clause that would have enabled Payton to walk away from the deal if general manager Mickey Loomis was suspended, fired or left the New Orleans organization.” Schefter noted the NFL “believed that any such language in Payton's contract would set a bad precedent for other coaching contracts and rejected the deal well before Loomis was suspended for the first eight games this season for his part in the bounty scandal” (ESPN.com, 11/4). Goodell said that the Saints and Payton “haven’t submitted a new contract since the NFL rejected the first one.” ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas noted Payton “isn’t allowed to talk to Saints’ officials" while he is suspended. Yasinskas: "So I don’t know that this situation will be resolved until after the Super Bowl” (ESPN.com, 11/4).
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