SBD/July 24, 2014/FranchisesPrint All
Following the decision by Broncos Owner Pat Bowlen to cede control of the organization due to Alzheimer's disease, the team yesterday said that everything "remains on course," according to Frank Schwab of YAHOO SPORTS. Bowlen had plans in place to "put the team into a trust, and the plan is for ownership to stay in the family." Broncos President & CEO Joe Ellis will "assume day-to-day business operations -- but he had been doing that for a while as Bowlen's health deteriorated." Broncos Exec VP/Football Operations John Elway will "continue to run the front office." Ellis said that the plan is for one of Bowlen's seven children to "'earn the right' to one day run the team." But Schwab noted it is "mostly business as usual for the Broncos right now" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 7/23). Elway said that there are "no plans for him to own the team" (DENVER POST, 7/24). NFL Network's Michael Silver said Broncos fans should feel "pretty good where the franchise is." Silver said Ellis and Elway are "not only very good at what they do," but also serve as "custodians of this franchise and of Bowlen's legacy." Silver said Elway told him that Bowlen is "grateful that the franchise he's now leaving behind is in such a good and healthy place" ("NFL Total Access," NFL Network, 7/23). ESPN's J.A. Adande said, "It seems like they're in a good place, and he set them up to succeed after he stepped down. But I just always wonder can it continue without that iconic figure at the top" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 7/23).
THIS ONE'S FOR PAT: In Denver, Mark Kiszla writes the decision for Bowlen to "step away from the family business in order to do right by the Broncos was as brave and selfless as it was difficult." There was "no exit conversation, ripe with made-for-the-movies melodrama." Instead, what Ellis revealed with a "peak behind the curtain at the toughest call of Bowlen's career was more true to the messy realities of growing old." It was a "series of talks during the course of several months among Bowlen, his family and team executives that slowly pulled together the loose strings of what needed to be done" (DENVER POST, 7/24). USA TODAY's Lindsay Jones notes though Bowlen's mental health "has been deteriorating in recent years, he remained a fixture at the team facility." He was "in his office nearly every day during training camp and the regular season and frequently watched practice from the sideline." Ellis: "He didn't walk through the door this morning, and that's hard for people. That's really hard for people here" (USA TODAY, 7/24). ESPN.com's Jeff Legwold noted every person who works inside the Broncos' complex "knew this day was coming." Those "in and around the Broncos have always said Bowlen was 'stepping away,' choosing to let the people he has in place run the team in the way he hoped it would be operated" (ESPN.com, 7/23).
HANDS-OFF APPROACH APPRECIATED: In Colorado Springs, David Ramsey notes Elway and Broncos coach John Fox yesterday "complimented Bowlen and his hands-on approach to leadership," but Elway said that Bowlen "never became a meddlesome owner." Elway: "When he came into the football business, he admitted the fact that he knew about the business side, but he didn't know a whole heck of a lot about the football side. He was always listening and asking questions" (Colorado Springs GAZETTE, 7/24). Columnist Kevin Blackistone said Bowlen is the "kind of an owner as a fan I would always want my teams to have." Blackistone: "He stayed in the background, he delegated to people who knew the job better than he did, and they went out and got players and built a franchise. The organization just ran like an engine." The N.Y. Daily News' Frank Isola: "You talking about staying in the background -- even when you saw him those moments when he was on the field, he was never very intrusive. He always showed a lot of class" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 7/23). Pro Football HOFer Shannon Sharpe, who played 12 years with the Broncos, said, "You knew he was going to give you the best opportunity to win. Sometimes he might have spent money that he didn’t necessarily ... have, but that's what he wanted. He wanted to win championships" ("NFL Total Access," NFL Network, 7/23).
PRAISE FROM THROUGHOUT THE LEAGUE: Patriots Owner Robert Kraft said of Bowlen, “He was always a league guy first. He was a real solid partner, one that I respected and had a lot of fun with. Just a real good guy.” He added, "I think over the 30 years he’s built an environment up there that I think everyone in the NFL would like to copy" (BOSTON GLOBE, 7/24). NFL Network's Silver noted a "prominent" NFL owner told him that Bowlen was "so well respected and well regarded by his peers that he was responsible for all kinds of things behind-the-scenes that nobody ever really gives him credit for." Silver: "It's hard to find somebody in this competitive industry who's universally respected by some very wealthy and powerful men, but Pat Bowlen was one of those people" ("NFL Total Access," NFL Network, 7/23). ESPN's Michael Wilbon said Bowlen was "probably the most underrated owner in any sport the last 30 years." Wilbon: "People who have played and worked for him adore him. ... You never hear a negative word" ("PTI," ESPN, 7/23).
GETTING TO KNOW JOE: In Denver, Mike Klis profiles Ellis, and writes he is "well qualified to take charge." Leadership "streams through Ellis' bloodlines," as his mom is the sister of former President George H.W. Bush. Ellis said, "I got asked to do it. I had the best mentor anyone could have. I just feel fortunate to be part of the organization. I wish Pat were here to do it. That would be better." Klis writes Ellis "may be kin of the Bushes, but he's more a protégé of Bowlen's." Elway said, "His style comes from Pat, which is why Joe is so terrific to work for." Denver Metropolitan Football Stadium District Chair Ray Baker said of Ellis' push to build Sports Authority Field at Mile High, "He never used the Bush card, and he never used the team president card, either. You would not use the word ego with Joe. He likes to stay invisible" (DENVER POST, 7/24). USA TODAY's Jones & Pelissero note Ellis "played a major role in projects" like building the Broncos' stadium and the current "massive renovation project at the Paul D. Bowlen Memorial Centre," the team's HQ in Englewood. Ellis also was a "driving force behind the team's decision" to hire Elway in '11 (USA TODAY, 7/24).
The attorneys for Shelly Sterling yesterday said that they will "ask a judge to issue a ruling" allowing the $2B sale of the Clippers to Steve Ballmer to proceed, "despite pending lawsuits brought by Donald Sterling in both federal and civil court contesting his wife's authority to sell the franchise without his consent," according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN L.A. Shelly Sterling's attorney Pierce O'Donnell said that he would "seek what would effectively be an emergency, appeal-proof ruling after testimony concluded in the California probate court case to determine whether she acted properly in removing her husband from the family trust, which owned the franchise before selling it to Ballmer." O'Donnell cited a section of the California probate code which "allows the judge to approve the sale if there is imminent loss of value to the trust." But such rulings "are rare," and it is "not clear whether the pending federal and civil lawsuits even would be affected by such a ruling." Testimony in the "three-week-old probate court trial concluded" yesterday. Superior Court Judge Michael Levanas "ordered attorneys from both sides to submit closing briefs by Thursday afternoon and appear back in court" Monday at 10:00am PT for closing arguments (ESPNLA.com, 7/23). Both sides said that the "key decisions for Levanas will not be on the late testimony but on a set of somewhat arcane legal questions that will turn largely on legal precedent." In L.A., Rainey & Fenno note the judge "must decide if Donald Sterling's 11th hour dismantling (or 'revocation') of the family trust can stop the Ballmer deal." If he decides the revocation cannot reverse the sale, he "must then determine whether to issue a special order that would enforce the sale, regardless of an appeal by Sterling" (L.A. TIMES, 7/24).
THE PRICE IS WRONG? ESPN.com's Shelburne & Rovell cited drafts of the Clippers sale bid book as showing that Ballmer's $2.1B bid is "12.1 times the expected 2014 revenues of the team." The document, which was introduced into court on Tuesday, "reveals that the team is projected to finish the year" with $62.3M in revenues from ticket sales, $25.8M from its contract with FS Prime Ticket and $24.1M in additional team revenue. The Clippers also are "projected to receive" $52.7M on the season in shared revenue. After taking away "player payroll costs," total operating revenue for the '13-14 season is projected to be $100M. By using "extremely generous projections, including a new local TV deal" that Bank of America projects will go from $25M to $125M a year, and a 200% increase in the rights fees for a new NBA TV deal, which will begin in '16-17, an additional $160M in annual revenue is "added to the team in future years" (ESPNLA.com, 7/23).
A RIVERS RUNS THROUGH IT? Interim Clippers CEO Dick Parsons earlier in the week noted Clippers Senior VP/Basketball Operations and coach Doc Rivers could leave the team if Sterling was not removed by the start of the season. TWC SportsNet’s Chris McGee said Rivers is "legitimately frustrated and tired from going at this alone," as there is "nobody in the front office to help him when he sits with free agents, when he goes in front of the media." However, McGee does not see Rivers "leaving that team because I think Donald’s going to lose this before the season starts” ("Rome," CBSSN, 7/23). ESPN's Tony Kornheiser said, "I would not see him leaving. I would not see any players leaving. I think what happened was (NBA Commissioner) Adam Silver, in a good faith gesture, did everything that he could do to get rid of Donald Sterling. But there are courts in America and they don’t bend to the will of Adam Silver." ESPN's Michael Wilbon said Rivers and Clippers players are "really, really on-board with Adam Silver's handling" of the situation" ("PTI," ESPN, 7/23). Meanwhile, CBS Sports Network's Doug Gottlieb questioned how sincere Rivers was about his threat to leave the team. Gottlieb: "It’s a little bit of fake tough guy stuff. It’s a bluff that he has to play to earn respect in the locker room, but he is not walking away from all of that money. You want to walk away from Donald Sterling? He's going to sue you for breach of contract” ("Lead Off," CBSSN, 7/23).
The Browns "have already 'sold out' the first three days" of their free training camp in Berea, and are "close to selling out more," according to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland PLAIN DEALER. The team also "distributed all 25,000 free tickets for their Family Day Aug. 2 at Akron's InfoCision Stadium within 10 hours." Browns President Alec Scheiner "downplayed the arrival" of QB Johnny Manziel as a source of the training camp buzz. He said, "I don't know how much of an impact (Manziel has had) just because we had so much success in the past with our family night, and because Akron's capacity is less than FirstEnergy Stadium. I suspect we would've sold that out anyway. But I do think there's a lot of excitement this year." Still, Scheiner "acknowledged that Manziel's immense popularity" is good for the team. Scheiner: "Whatever will drive us to be more relevant, I think is good because I think the more relevant you are and the more you win, the more players want to play for your organization" (CLEVELAND.com, 7/24).
TEXAS FOREVER? ESPN.com's Todd Archer noted the Cowboys' contract with the city of Oxnard, Calif., is "up after this training camp," but team Owner Jerry Jones would "like to continue operating at least part of camp" there in the future. This is the ninth year the Cowboys have held camp in Oxnard, and the team and the city "have a three-year option on the table that could be exercised after this summer." The Cowboys are "scheduled to move into their new practice facility" in Frisco, Texas, in '16 and "will hold at least a part of training camp at the indoor football stadium being built to escape the hot temperatures" (ESPN.com, 7/24).
The Bears' "marketing mantra" for the '14 season will be "Bear Down," as the team's longtime agency Two By Four, Chicago, is "in the final stages of completing a new ad campaign," according to Lewis Lazare of the CHICAGO BUSINESS JOURNAL. Variations on a "Monsters of the Midway" theme, which had "predominated in Bears advertising for the past couple of seasons," are being "scrapped in favor of a new campaign that plays off the title of the familiar Bears fight song 'Bear Down, Chicago Bears.'" The "centerpiece of the new ad campaign" will be a 30-second TV commercial featuring footage of Chicagoans "mouthing the familiar 'Bear Down' line." A different 45-second video featuring Bears season-ticket holders will "air in Soldier Field on game days." New "outdoor executions also will feature the 'Bear Down' theme" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 7/23).
The hope from NHL Panthers execs is that the July 1 signing of G Al Montoya, who in '08-09 became "the first Cuban-American" to play in the NHL, will "help attract some of the approximately 850,000 Cuban-Americans in the area to the BB&T Center," according to Harvey Fialkov of the South Florida SUN-SENTINEL. Montoya said, "This is a very cool experience, not only on a hockey level, but a bigger level than that." Still, Montoya "knows that his heritage isn't enough to create fan interest." He said, "If you put a winning team on the ice you're going to get fans, so I think the start of it would be a good hockey team and give the people a reason to come into the arena when there's a ton of things going on all the time. Add to that, me being able to go into the Cuban community, bringing in people would just be a bonus" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 7/24). Montoya said, "The Cuban people are very passionate. Once they figure out what the game is like, it's tough to let go" (MIAMIHERALD.com, 7/21).
SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE: In Ft. Lauderdale, Craig Davis notes the Panthers yesterday announced via Twitter that the Lady Panthers, the team's cheerleading and ice dancing squad, have "been disbanded." A team spokesperson "declined comment about why the squad was being dropped from the Panthers’ game presentation" after nine years. It was "not revealed whether the Rat Pack energy team will be retained." The Panthers declined to comment on whether the move "was influenced by several lawsuits filed this year by NFL cheerleaders." The team has "made a number of organizational changes in the past year since an ownership change" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 7/24).
FOXSPORTS.com's Ken Rosenthal cited sources as saying that Rockies manager Walt Weiss has "grown frustrated due to his philosophical differences" with Senior VP/Major League Operations & Assistant GM Bill Geivett and the club's "unusual front office structure." Sources said that Weiss is "not looking to leave" the Rockies, but his dissatisfaction "reflects the growing sense in the industry that the organization is reaching a breaking point." Geivett "maintains an office in the clubhouse," while Exec VP, Chief Baseball Officer & GM Dan O'Dowd continues to "oversee all baseball operations" (FOXSPORTS.com, 7/21).
GO BIG OR GO HOME: In Phoenix, Dan Bickley writes the D-Backs "need a total overhaul from top to bottom," as well as "better infrastructure, with more competent people in charge of coaching and player development." There is pressure on D-Backs Chief Baseball Officer Tony La Russa to "do something big and he likes it that way." Many fans are "expecting genius" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 7/24).
FRIAR SALE: CBS Sports Network's Doug Gottlieb said of the many recent transactions by the Padres, "They don't have a GM. They're trying to get rid of salaries from the previous GM, that's why they traded their closer to the Angels and why they traded Chase Headley to the Yankees." Gottlieb: "Grab a bucket, throw water on the fire. This is a fire sale" ("Lead Off," CBSSN, 7/23).
CALLING COOPERSTOWN: In Atlanta, Chris Vivalamore reported the Braves will open the Turner Field gates at 1:00pm ET for Sunday's 5:05pm game against the Padres, and the Baseball HOF induction ceremony "will be shown on the stadium scoreboard." Fans in attendance will receive a "commemorative poster" featuring incoming HOFers Bobby Cox, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 7/22).