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SBD/February 20, 2013/Leagues and Governing BodiesPrint All
NFLPA President Domonique Foxworth yesterday said that "trust was the big factor that had stalled progress on lingering issues between the players union and the NFL," including the implementation of HGH testing, according to Garafolo & Bell of USA TODAY. Speaking on a conference call, Foxworth said, "If every proposal we bring back to the players, they receive it from a negative place because they don't trust anybody on Park Avenue, then it's really hard to get anything done." He added of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, "I couldn't, if I wanted to, convince our players that you can trust Roger or you can trust the league. I do think that some neutral arbitration would go a long way." Garafolo & Bell note Foxworth "mentioned trust at least a half-dozen times during the 50-minute call" (USA TODAY, 2/20). The AP's Barry Wilner noted Foxworth cited the Saints bounty scandal "and how former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue was not 'unbiased.'" Yet Tagliabue "made the final decision that tossed out the suspensions of four players." Foxworth said of Tagliabue's appointment by Goodell, "When things like that happen, it’s hard for our players to believe that the league has their best interests in mind" (AP, 2/19). Foxworth added that the league and union "made progress toward a smooth working relationship when they completed a 10-year labor deal in 2011." But he said, "There was a bridge beginning to be built and then there were some recent events that kind of broke that bridge again." NFL Senior VP/PR Greg Aiello responded, "Trust is a two-way street. If the union wants to work together to build a better, safer and even more popular game, we extend our hand in partnership and respect. If the union wants to stir up old grievances and create mistrust, we will simply have to do the best we can to serve the interests [off] the fans, players and the game" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 2/19).
OTHER ISSUES: In N.Y., Judy Battista notes union officials on the call referred to the "league mandate for the wearing of hip and thigh pads next season as 'Nike pads,' a hint that they believe the push is being encouraged by the uniform supplier." However, the players and league "may find more common ground on rules changes that might make the game safer" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/20).
HE EARNED EVERY PENNY: Goodell earned $29.49M in '11, as reported last week by THE DAILY, and ESPN.com's Ashley Fox wrote that is a "staggering number at first blush." But Fox wrote, "Was it outrageous? Hardly, given the financial windfall that Goodell ... provided the NFL's 32 owners and the players." Compared to the "money Goodell has made the owners, his compensation looks like a bargain." Based on just the "economics, the owners should have paid him more." Goodell got a new, 10-year CBA "hammered out with the players, ending a four-month lockout before any real damage was done." He also "secured television contract extensions with ESPN, NBC, Fox, CBS and DirecTV that were unprecedented in their length and value." He kept the NFL's media partners "in place and at a ridiculously high price that guarantees the owners and players will split $7 billion annually during the life of the deals." Goodell has "succeeded in his top two priorities so far into his tenure: Securing extended labor peace and financial health even in a down economy" (ESPN.com, 2/18). ESPN's Tony Kornheiser said of Goodell's '11 salary, "That is really a lot of money.” ESPN’s Michael Wilbon said that was “Michael Jordan money” and then asked, “Do you think Roger Goodell is as valuable to the NFL as Michael Jordan was to the NBA?” Kornheiser added, “He’s making money for the owners” (“PTI,” ESPN, 2/19).
Nets F and NBPA VP Jerry Stackhouse said the most important aspects of last Saturday's union meeting in Houston that resulted in the firing of Exec Dir Billy Hunter were "rehashing" the issues around the union's leadership and "making a decision to move forward," according to Tim Bontemps of the N.Y. POST. Stackhouse said, "Obviously there was a lot of things that happened over the years, but we focused on moving forward right now." Bontemps wrote the fact that Heat F LeBron James was "standing side-by-side with Stackhouse" as vocal leaders during the meeting was "a sign to the veteran that the group was already breaking away from the way it was run under Hunter’s leadership." Stackhouse: "It’s really important. Our superstars got somewhat alienated under Hunter because there was so much focus on the middle class and the lower-level guys." He added, "It was somewhat of a ‘divide-and-conquer’ (strategy) ... it sounds great that you created a (higher) average salary and all of this type of thing, but it was more (about) having more of those guys on your side, even though it’s a superstar driven league." Stackhouse leading up to Saturday's meeting also had been "vocal in his criticism" of NBPA President Derek Fisher. Stackhouse "didn’t take back those criticisms" yesterday, but he indicated that removing Hunter was the "biggest issue ... in order to begin reshaping the way the union goes about its business." Stackhouse: "These next three or four months are going to be big for us to try to start the rebuilding process." He added that "now -- with Hunter expected to try and fight his dismissal -- wasn’t the time to totally blow up the system, but instead to begin a transitional period where some of those changes can be made, with more expected in the coming months" (NYPOST.com, 2/19).
Tiger Woods yesterday said that he had never been drug tested by the PGA Tour “away from a tournament site,” according to Karen Crouse of the N.Y. TIMES. Woods said that the “only time he has been tested outside of competition” was at the '08 Chevron World Challenge, the year the Tour’s antidoping policy was instituted. He hosted the tourney but "did not play in it because he was recovering from knee surgery.” Referring to being tested away from a tournament site, Woods said, “I know guys who have, but I have not.” Crouse notes the Tour’s antidoping program states that players “can be tested in and out of tournament competition.” PGA Tour Exec VP/Communications & Int'l Affairs Ty Votaw insisted that the Tour “conducted tests on and off tournament sites,” though he did not provide details. Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els all have indicated that they also have "never been tested away from a tournament site.” Votaw: “WADA accepts out-of-competition testing as Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and we have done that.” Out-of-competition testing is “considered important because it provides a deterrent to athletes who might want to take banned substances to aid their recovery from hard training or an injury.” Golfer Stuart Appleby said, “If they have the ability to test outside of competition, the question is, have you exercised the option? If they’re not doing it or not disclosing it, is there a reason behind it?” Golfer Bob Estes added, “I don’t think they anticipated anybody would have admitted using a performance-enhancing drug. I don’t want to say they’re hiding behind the policy, I just don’t think they anticipated ever having this problem” (N.Y. TIMES, 2/20).
WEIGHING IN: McIlroy yesterday indicated that Vijay Singh “should be punished, in some manner," for his recent admission to using deer-antler spray, which is banned by the Tour. However, GOLFCHANNEL.com's Ryan Lavner noted McIlroy "doesn’t think that performance-enhancers really help a golfer excel on the course.” McIlroy said, “Golf is built on integrity. I think it was an honest mistake. Of course if you take something, you’ve got to be penalized in some way because you might be getting an unfair advantage against the field. But I think golf is clean. I don’t see how any real performance-enhancing drugs can actually help. ... I don’t see any sort of drug out there that could really help a golfer across the board” (GOLFCHANNEL.com, 2/19).
Plans to introduce fan voting as part of the Basketball HOF election “have been abandoned for this year,” according to Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com. Officials said that they “expect to implement the idea for the Class of 2014.” HOF President & CEO John Doleva said it is still a "big priority" for the HOF and Chair Jerry Colangelo. However, he added, "It was just a little more complicated than we thought in terms of execution and getting ready and getting ramped up.” Howard-Cooper reported officials “lined up a media partner, ESPN, to promote the concept,” but the HOF “did not have important sponsorships in place, prompting the decision to postpone.” Doleva said, “We would love to find a corporation to get behind this and support it through their media and help them sell product.” Under the working plan, the anonymous voters “selected by the Hall -- basketball officials, former players and/or coaches, athletic directors, media -- would still decide the finalists.” Mass participation would begin “once that list is revealed at All-Star weekend in February, with fans part of the second layer of balloting that decides enshrinement later that summer.” The top three finishers would get “one additional vote toward the final decision, providing a 25th chance to get the 18 votes needed for induction rather than the current model of 18 from 24 electors” (NBA.com, 2/19).