SBJ/October 22-28, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NFL assigns Grubman, LaForce to new fund

The NFL is re-energizing its effort to launch a venture capital fund to invest on behalf of the league’s owners.

The initiative, approved last year, took a hit when the executive in charge of the effort, Neil Glat, left the league this spring to join the New York Jets as president. In the last month, the league placed the project under the guidance of NFL Executive Vice President Eric Grubman. Another league officer, Kevin LaForce, has also been assigned to the fund, which the league now hopes will be investing by next year.

The owners have committed $1 million apiece to invest in the fund, which captured a lot of industry attention when it was first disclosed last October. Originally, the league envisioned an advisory board of investment funds that would bring deals to the league. The league has reshaped that vision to focus on perhaps signing with just one or two firms as partners.

VIEW TO THE WEST: When AEG announced in September it was for sale, Tim Leiweke, the company’s president, forcefully rejected suggestions that the move would hurt the firm’s effort to build a football stadium in downtown Los Angeles. Well, count NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell as one who is unsure. “It is very possible while this may delay an ultimate solution for some period of time,” Goodell told reporters last week, “it may also accelerate an alternate solution because it may create opportunities. The focus is on selling the asset first.”

HGH TESTING ON HOLD: The NFL appears almost certain to go through another season without an agreement to test players for HGH. While the new collective-bargaining agreement put in place last year called for human growth hormone testing, the document left the protocols to be determined by the players and the league, and that is where the hang-up resides. The two sides could not reach agreement in year one of the CBA, and year two looks to go the same way. “We thought we had an agreement; we don’t have an agreement,” Goodell said.

Jeffrey Miller, the league’s lobbyist in Washington, D.C., said he doesn’t expect Congress to get involved any time soon. Congress is not in session until after next month’s election, Miller noted, and even when it returns, its time during the remainder of the 2012 NFL season will be a lame-duck session.

New Orleans is looking to amaze, but won’t use Indianapolis’ zip line idea.
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PICTURE PERFECT: This January marks the 40th anniversary of the Miami Dolphins’ undefeated season, the only one in NFL history. To commemorate the occasion, the Dolphins are making a full-length feature movie on the season, said Mike Dee, team CEO. The club has hired sports documentary maker Bombo Sports & Entertainment for the effort. The premiere will be in Miami in December, Dee said, and the club hopes to distribute the movie in theaters across the country.

ZIP IT: Don’t look for a zip line in New Orleans at the Super Bowl this season. The zip line setup in downtown Indianapolis for this year’s Super Bowl festivities became one of the defining features of the event, ushering in suggestions that no future Super Bowl would be complete without having a similar “wow” factor. New Orleans Saints President Dennis Lauscha talked here about the Super Bowl Village his city was undertaking for this season’s game, Feb. 3, but he said there would be no major spectacle like a zip line. One source did say the city was working on something that would “amaze” but added that it would not be interactive.

New Browns owner Jimmy Haslam may keep a higher profile than his predecessor.
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OWNER OBSERVATIONS:
It’s obvious Jimmy Haslam will be a very different owner than his predecessor, Randy Lerner. Haslam, who is slated to take control of the Cleveland Browns on Thursday upon the closing of his $1.05 billion purchase of the club, had his PR person hand out a 38-page binder of stories and information about the new owner here. Lerner, who did not attend, was one of the more reclusive NFL owners,
The Bears’ Virginia McCaskey, a rare sight at meetings, attended Monday’s reception.
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rivaled only by Seattle ’s Paul Allen. … Speaking of owners rarely seen, Chicago Bears owner Virginia McCaskey attended the “Monday Night Football” viewing reception the evening before the meeting. The elderly daughter of Bears founder George Halas rarely attends meetings but made it to the hometown reception. … Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones almost never misses an owners meeting, but he did miss this one. No formal reason was given for Jones’ absence, but maybe it was a giveaway that Dallas would be shut out of bidding for the 2016 and 2017 Super Bowls, with Houston, South Florida and Santa Clara, Calif., receiving the right to bid. Hard feelings from last year’s Super Bowl fiasco in North Texas remain widely evident, as well.

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