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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Thursday said the league now is "focusing solely" on L.A. and Chicago as the host sites for the '15 NFL Draft, according to Sam Farmer of the L.A. TIMES. N.Y. has hosted the Draft since '65, but Goodell said that it "has been dropped from consideration for next year ... because Radio City Music Hall couldn’t offer available dates in April or May." The event is "expected to take place either April 22-25 or April 29-May 2." Goodell "declined to give a timetable on when the league will make its choice." Farmer reports the league also is "considering stretching the draft from three days to four, a concept that would test the creativity of the NFL considering the interest naturally wanes in the later rounds." But Goodell acknowledged that keeping viewers "tuned in for a fourth day would be a challenge." Goodell: "We’re talking about different concepts, primarily how to strengthen the last day and whether we should maybe push that back to the clubs a little bit more and allow the clubs to have a little bit more freedom as more of a club day" (L.A. TIMES, 7/18). In N.Y., Bart Hubbuch notes the league "isn’t ruling out returning" to N.Y. in '16 or beyond if Radio City or "another suitable location becomes available" (N.Y. POST, 7/18). NFL Network's Jordan Babineaux notes one of the "most exciting things" at the Draft in recent years has been Jets fans, who have become "really known for their booing or their chants, depending on how crazy the picks are." Babineaux: "But the league is always experience growth and experience different things, especially of that can benefit from it." ("NFL AM," NFL Network, 7/18).
NFL.com's Marc Sessler noted NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell "believes the door remains open for pro football to return" to L.A. Goodell said, "It still comes back to, 'Do we have the right solution in Los Angeles?' And that comes back to a stadium." Patriots Owner Robert Kraft said league-wide ownership is "collectively very concerned that we don't have at least one team" in L.A. Kraft: "I know that Roger and I and a number of the owners who care about the long-term health of the NFL feel it's very important for our future to have at least one -- if not two teams -- in downtown L.A." (NFL.com, 7/17).
THE LATEST GAME OF THE WEEK: CBS this year is debuting their eight-game slate of Thursday night games, and despite many players and team execs being critical of the NFL scheduling those games, ESPN's Dan Graziano reported the league is "not going to do anything about it." Graziano : "Doing something about it would reduce the revenue pool. which is not something the NFL is even going to consider" ("NFL Insiders," ESPN2, 7/17). ESPN"s Pablo Torre noted CBS paid $275M for the Thursday night package, so "they don't care about the quality of the game." Boston Globe's Bob Ryan said, "Nobody cares about the level of play at the top level. All they care about is honoring the TV master. Period" ("Around The Horn," ESPN2, 7/17).
FOLLOW THE LEADER: CBSSPORTS.com’s Pat Kirwan listed his “top 10 influencers” of the NFL and placed Goodell in the No. 1 spot. Goodell “influences just about every aspect of the NFL," as he is not only the "face of the league, but also its heartbeat.” Kirwan gave NFL VP/Officiating Dean Blandino the No. 2 spot. Patriots Owner Robert Kraft took the No. 3 spot and the distinction of the NFL’s “most influential owner.” Kraft serves on "many committees, can sway owners to act in a unified manner and was very visible during the CBA negotiations.” The rest of the top 10 is: Judge Anita Brody, Eagles coach Chip Kelly, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, NFL Senior VP/Broadcasting & Media Operations COO Howard Katz, NFL Dir of Football Operations Troy Vincent, Patriots QB Tom Brady and Colts QB Andrew Luck (CBSSPORTS.com, 7/16).
In Jacksonville, Don Coble writes many believe the purpose behind the creation of the Race Team Alliance is for team owners to have a "seat at the table" when the new NASCAR TV money is "carved into pieces." NASCAR's current TV contract "calls for the tracks" to get 65% of the pie. NASCAR is "next in line," and race teams get what is "left over." The next TV contract with Fox and NBC will "translate to an extra" $19M in revenues for the sanctioning body compared to this year’s contract. While the RTA was developed to "find ways have more buying power with hotel, rental car and insurance rates, the driving force is money" and that "leads everyone back to television money" (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 7/18).
WHAT'S THE POINT? SPORTS ON EARTH's Shaun Powell wrote NBA Commissioner Adam Silver's idea about creating a midseason tournament is all about "making the game more attractive (and by extension, generating more dough) and gimmicky for TV, not necessarily better." Powell: "We’re supposed to celebrate a 'winner' four months before we crown the real champion? And who exactly would muster enough interest to care? ... Would any player, or coach for that matter, really treasure a trophy in February? Is that something to brag about?" (SPORTSONEARTH.com, 7/17).
PRESS YOUR LUCK: The possibility of a revised NBA Draft Lottery was a hot topic on the ESPN afternoon talk shows Thursday. The Boston Globe's Bob Ryan said, "The NBA is overreacting to the criticism it received for the tanking, which was aberrational and the degree to which will not happen again. The fact is they cannot please all the people all the time." Dallas Morning News columnist Tim Cowlishaw said, "Getting rid of the Lottery and just going back to the old system would be better than this new system" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 7/17). ESPN's Bomani Jones said, "We've seen the history of this lottery. They get spooked out by weird results and then they end up making changes. ... This is another reactionary change by the NBA because the result was kind of funny" ("PTI," ESPN, 7/17).
A NEW FACE FOR LACROSSE: In Denver, Benjamin Hochman writes MLL Boston Cannons MF Paul Rabil is the "face of U.S. lacrosse," as he is "one of those dudes who just separates himself." Rabil is on pace to be the sport's "first million-dollar player," and Hochman writes, "Lacrosse needs this guy. And lacrosse needs this guy out there more." He is the "type of transcendent athlete who can inspire those who admire." It is "hard to pick his personality off the screen," but hopefully for the sport, Rabil will be a "name we start knowing, a la Clint Dempsey from a month ago" (DENVER POST, 7/18).