SBD/November 6, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

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  • NFL Could Impose Harsh Penalty On Incognito As It Grapples With Bullying Issue

    Incognito could receive an open-ended suspension, banning him from the league

    Because of the nature of the language used by Dolphins G Richie Incognito in a voice message to OT Jonathan Martin, along with Incognito’s "troubled history in the league," it would not be surprising if NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell "were to come down hard -- if Incognito is guilty of what he’s being accused of," according to Sam Farmer of the L.A. TIMES. If the league "decides that Incognito is guilty, it’s conceivable that Goodell could impose his own open-ended suspension, banning him from the league." The NFL also is "likely to take a firmer, more decisive stance on all types of player hazing and harassment" in light of the Martin-Incognito situation. This episode "looks bad for the league, and it’s bigger than one player giving another a hard time" (LATIMES.com, 11/5). In N.Y., William Rhoden writes Goodell "must deal with Incognito." A lifetime ban "would be too harsh," but a "suspension, possibly for the rest of the season, even if the Dolphins were inclined to bring Incognito back ... seems fair." Goodell also should send "a stern message to the players that the days of hazing young players -- from making rookies pay for dinner to carrying veterans’ bags -- are over." Rhoden: "As if the NFL didn’t have enough headaches on the field and off -- concussions, drug testing, crime -- now the commissioner has to deal with bullying in the locker room" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/6).

    ANOTHER PROBLEM FOR THE LEAGUE: In Utah, Doug Robinson writes the NFL, which "just settled the concussion lawsuit and is currently reeling from an injury epidemic, has one more problem on its hands." Robinson: "Does anyone smell a lawsuit coming? Or other bullying cases coming to light that serve up more feed for the talk-show set and lead to more lawsuits?" (DESERET NEWS, 11/6). In Chicago, Rick Morrissey writes of the NFL, "I see a league that can’t control what it has wrought. From a growing concussion crisis to the murder charges against Aaron Hernandez to a bullying incident that has blown up into a raging wildfire, it’s a wonder NFL commissioner Roger Goodell isn’t wearing the haunted look of the hunted. ... I see Richie Incognito’s face, and I see another black eye for a league full of them" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 11/6). In N.Y., Steve Serby writes the "last thing the NFL needs is this type of public relations nightmare." Serby: "Stand up to the bullying, NFL" (N.Y. POST, 11/6). In Detroit, Jeff Seidel writes under the header, "NFL Should Set Example, Ban All Forms Of Hazing" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 11/6). But SNY's Jonas Schwartz said, "We're going to see a big over-reaction here now and the NFL is going to crack down on this. ... Some of the harmless stuff is now going to get cracked down on" ("Daily News Live," SNY, 11/5).

    NFL KEEPS PRESSING ON: The GLOBE & MAIL's Jeff Blair writes under the header, "Don't Expect Incognito Affair To Slow Down NFL Juggernaut." The NFL "finds itself where it never likes to be: In the public eye, loosely attached to an issue of pressing social concern." The NFL's normal approach to issues is "to let the weight of the league and its marketing might simply squash the matter." The league has "no shortage of excuse makers in the media." Blair: "Rest assured they will be out spinning, talking about how this ought not to stand and doing their best to paint the matter as an incident reflective of a particular locker-room culture" (GLOBE & MAIL, 11/6). Meanwhile, ESPN's Danny Kanell said the issue has been "vastly overblown by the media because we're dealing with some very polarizing buzzwords when you start to talk about 'bullying,' 'hazing' and get into some racial elements with the language that was used in that voicemail" ("Outside The Lines," ESPN, 11/5).

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  • PGA Tour Continues Fight To Dismiss Vijay Singh Lawsuit Following Doping Suspension

    Singh's agent claims the PGA Tour singled out his client for doping

    The Oct. 24 oral arguments on the PGA Tour's motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed by golfer Vijay Singh "turned into a back-and-forth on who has the power: the Tour administration headed by commissioner Tim Finchem, or the players themselves," according to Garry Smits of the FLORIDA TIMES-UNION. Singh's attorney Peter Ginsberg said that the Tour "has made 'exception after exception' in the administration of its Anti-Doping policy and player disciplinary action, and claimed the Tour singled Singh out when it suspended him in February." Tour attorney Jeffrey Mishkin said that a characterization in Singh's lawsuit that Tour players "have no input into its rules and policies was wrong." Singh claimed that players have no “bargaining power,” such as unions in other pro sports. Michkin said, "The players themselves govern the Tour, control the Tour." Smits notes player control is "required under the legal definition of a 501 (c) (6) non-profit." But Ginsberg said that the PGA Tour "'dictates every step of the way' and that Singh was compelled to sign the membership agreement or be denied an opportunity to make a living." Ginsberg: "The PGA (Tour) isn't like the NFL or Major League Baseball ... because those sports organizations have a counterbalance to management -- there are collective bargaining agreements and there are unions and there are negotiated procedures. Those don’t exist with the PGA (Tour)." Ginsberg added that the Tour "monopolizes professional golf." He also said that the Tour was "irresponsible for not testing Deer Antler Spray soon enough" (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 11/6). Meanwhile, Tiger Woods said, "I may have been tested five times this year. That's usually about the number for most guys." He added, "It's incredibly random and it's frustrating and annoying at times, but I guess golf's now a pretty big sport and should fall in line." However, Woods said, "I don't think I have ever been tested on the European Tour" (SCOTSMAN.com, 11/5).

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  • League Notes

    Cuban said that he helped Stern set up his first Twitter account

    ESPN.com’s Tim MacMahon noted Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban is “speaking glowingly” of NBA Commissioner David Stern ahead of his Feb. 1 retirement. Cuban yesterday on NBA TV said, “I love David. I mean, David and I have banged heads a couple times, (but) the truth be told, David Stern made me. Nobody knew who Mark Cuban was until he started fining the hell out of me and sent me to work at Dairy Queen. So he made my job of selling tickets a lot easier." He added, “David took us internationally. Even when I came in, I wasn't a big proponent of international, and David was there. David was a big proponent of digital -- the Internet -- (and) I remember sitting down talking to him. Even before I bought the team (in Jan. 2000), he invited me in to talk about streaming and the Internet. I helped him set up his first Twitter account. He was always open-minded about expanding into new areas and you really have to respect that. Despite the fact that we disagreed on a lot of things, we really agreed on far more. I'll miss him. I really like David” (ESPN.com, 11/5).

    LASHING OUT: In London, Eleanor Crooks notes tennis player Novak Djokovic “launched an astonishing attack on tennis' anti-doping programme claiming he no longer has any trust in the system.” Djokovic was “reacting to the verdict of the Court of Arbitration for Sport," which on Tuesday ruled fellow Serbia native Viktor Troicki "should serve a 12-month ban for missing a doping test.” Troicki was originally suspended for 18 months by an Int'l Tennis Federation anti-doping tribunal, "but had appealed to CAS to have the sanction overturned.” Djokovic: “I don't know if tomorrow the (anti-doping) representative, because of their unprofessionalism, because of their negligence, because of their inability to explain the rules in a proper way, I don't know if they're going to misplace the test that I have or anything worse than that. For me, the whole procedure of the court case is totally against the player and player's rights” (London INDEPENDENT, 11/6).

    GLOVES ARE OFF: ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun noted there was “likely to be a fighting discussion" at next week’s NHL GMs meeting in Toronto, and a fight between Flyers G Ray Emery and Capitals G Braden Holtby Friday night “probably cemented it.” No formal rule recommendations are “expected in the one-day meeting; more likely it’s about setting things up for the annual three-day March meeting in Florida, when the GMs have more time to dissect potential rule changes, break out into small groups and officially make recommendations.” But the seed in some part “will be planted next Tuesday” (ESPN.com, 11/5).

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