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SBJ/December 13-18, 2010/In-Depth
The 50 most influential list, 31-40
Published December 13, 2010
Outside Labor Counsel,
NFL, NHL, MLS
Partner, Dewey LeBoeuf Outside Labor Counsel,
Some say that labor negotiation is a chess game. If that's true, Bob Batterman and Jeffrey Kessler are the masters — and they'll be facing each other in the coming months during the tense and turbulent NFL labor negotiations. Many believe the NFL hired Batterman to represent the league at the table after the NHL was able to put in the first hard salary cap in sports after its 2004-05 lockout. Kessler has been representing the NFLPA since the late 1980s and was behind its strategy of decertifying in order to bring antitrust lawsuits against the NFL in the late 1980s and early '90s.
Mark Emmert wasted little time in exerting his new influence as the NCAA's president, shaking up the organization's structure and tightening the front office in August. The former University of Washington president in just a few months has taken a hard line against paying college athletes, while also wondering if "creeping commercialism" is the biggest ethical issue facing NCAA sports. Shaheen, meanwhile, was an instrumental figure in the NCAA's new media agreement with Turner/CBS and his stature has grown in the basketball world as he has forged deeper relationships with the NBA and the college coaches associations.
Bob Bowman posted yet another trendsetting year for what remains the most developed and lucrative league-run digital media enterprise. On top of record revenue and traffic, and a major deal to support ESPN3.com, Bowman and MLBAM staked an early and influential position within the iPad with a successful version of its MLB.com At Bat application for the popular tablet device.
When Don Garber joined MLS more than a decade ago, the league was in trouble and he knew little about the sport. But after overseeing rapid expansion and savvy business moves like the creation of Soccer United Marketing, Garber has cemented his place as the most vocal and visible leader of U.S. soccer.
The Yankees, even after failing in their bid for World Series title No. 28, remain the engine that makes baseball go, topping all major fan affinity measures, not to mention outdistancing the earning power of any other MLB club. Now two full years into his role, Hal Steinbrenner's management style continues to evolve, as he's showed a firmer hand in many negotiations of late but still without the bombast of his late father.
Three years ago, Michael Levine and Howard Nuchow signed on to launch the Hollywood star factory's sports effort. With a roster of clients that today includes the New York Yankees and Madison Square Garden, as well as athletes such as Derek Jeter, LeBron James and Jimmie Johnson, it's safe to say Nuchow and Levine have put CAA Sports at the top of the marquee.
When the NBA board of governors unanimously approved Ted Leonsis' purchase of the Wizards in June, the longtime media executive became one of an exclusive group that owns two major professional sports teams and an arena in a top-10 market. Even though Leonsis' TV rights are tied up in a long-term deal with Comcast SportsNet, he is looking for ways to dive further into the media business. Leonsis is at the starting point of turning around the Wizards' franchise, using a blueprint similar to the one he used to turn around the Capitals.
The 14-year-old apparel and footwear brand is close to cracking the billion-dollar sales figure, and it has grown on the back of Kevin Plank, a brand zealot who has built an apparel juggernaut. But to achieve its stated goal of challenging Nike, which has annual revenue in excess of $19 billion, Under Armour must make more headway in footwear and overseas.
GM has completed a nifty transformation from a leading citizen of the corporate welfare state to an IPO. If that drive to profitability continues, Joel Ewanick is in line to receive kudos for restarting what looked like a dead engine. GM's top marketer earned his chops at Hyundai and Nissan, two brands that helped erode GM's U.S. market share, before joining GM in May. Ewanick is the person most media executives point to as the key reason the auto category returned to sports, jump-starting the marketplace in a big way.
When Olympic insiders called for his resignation a year ago, the easy thing for Larry Probst to do would have been to walk away. Instead, he doubled down. He recommitted himself to his job as U.S. Olympic Committee chairman by traveling to more international meetings and events, opening a dialogue with Olympic stakeholders and hiring the right person — Scott Blackmun — as CEO. In the process, he earned tremendous respect and solidified his role as the most important figure in the U.S. Olympic movement.