• The Champions: Len Elmore

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    During yesterday's luncheon at the 2015 IMG World Congress of Sports, we presented video tributes to each member of the 2015 class of The Champions, Pioneers and Innovators in Sports Business.

    Here's our video for Len Elmore.

    To read our profile of Elmore from SportsBusiness Journal, click here.

    Tags: ING, IMG, IMG World Congress Of Sports, World Congress of Sports Dont use ever, Champion, Champions
  • The Champions: Donna de Varona

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    During today's luncheon at the 2015 IMG World Congress of Sports, we presented video tributes to each member of the 2015 class of The Champions, Pioneers and Innovators in Sports Business.

    Here's our video for Donna de Varona.

    To read our profile of de Varona from SportsBusiness Journal, click here.

    Tags: Champion, Champions, ING
  • World Congress Wake Up! Sights and Sounds From L.A. Live

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    -- Welcome To L.A.: It will be a full house this morning as the World Congress of Sports kicks off at L.A. Live. There are nearly 850 names are on the delegate list – an all-time high. Attendees started descending on the JW Marriott as early as Tuesday morning. The WCOS begins in just about an hour – and already there’s buzz around the appearances of Disney’s Bob Iger, MLB’s Rob Manfred and the often quotable Brian Burke of the Flames. The only question that interests us: will he wear a tie?

    -- Outlook: Sunny and lively: BTW, we promise better weather today than the overcast and occasional downpour that greeted early arrivals yesterday. More than once we heard, “For this you brought us to L.A.?” Sunny today, high of 70. If you aren’t here, you should be!

    -- What Was Hot Last Night: IMG/WME and SBJ/SBD hosted their VIP speaker dinner at Nest at WP24, at the top of the Ritz Carlton. Offering spectacular views of downtown L.A., guests munched on lobster and veggie spring rolls before sitting down to a dinner of Hong Kong Style Steamed Salmon and Szechuan Style Prime Flat Iron Steak. Seen around: new MLB Commish Rob Manfred and top PR exec Pat Courtney; NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly and PR exec Jamey Horan; WME/IMG's Patrick Whitesell, along with Christian Muirhead; AEG out in full force with Dan Beckerman, Todd Goldstein and Michael Roth; and SBJ/SBD 2015 Champions Tom Jernstedt, David Falk, Mike Trager, Donna de Varona and Len Elmore. Jim Host and his wife were there, as well. Also seen: Proskauer's Joe Leccese, Howard Ganz and Brad Ruskin; DC United co-Owner Will Chang; MLS's Gary Stevenson and Howard Handler.

    -- Busman’s Holiday: Last night, the NBA’s Mike Bass took in the Clippers-Lakers game at Staples Center, while ESPN’s Mike Soltys was holed up in his hotel room watching – you guessed it – ESPN. An employee of the league office, Bass can’t cheer for either team. But a few celebratory shouts could be heard from Soltys’ room as his favored Connecticut Huskies beat Notre Dame in women’s college basketball.

    -- The Place To Be: Last night’s bar scene at “Pikes” – the JW Marriott bar – was solid. Spotted: Brad Sims and Mike Tomon catching up in the bar; Clay Walker holding court; and USOC CEO Scott Blackmun talking on his cell phone. Learfield's Marc Jenkins flew in from Indy, was seen catching up with Norris Scott from NASCAR. Others seen propping up the bar: Brian Burke, Ed Horne, Subway’s Paul Bamundo, Scott Milleisen and Brian Kantarian from JP Morgan Chase.

    -- Early Iger buzz: Expect a full house for Disney’s Bob Iger interview at 10:30 PT. Word is that he’s pumped about talking sports – a topic that he rarely addresses publicly. Look for him to talk about everything from his early days starting at ABC Sports to ESPN’s role in the success of Disney. Other topics: the future of the cable bundle and Disney’s latest OTT offering. Expected in the standing-room only crowd: ESPN President John Skipper and NBA commish Adam Silver.

    --Manfred’s mission: The new MLB leader – two-and-a-half months on the job – will lay out his blueprint to speed up the game by 30 minutes (We kid! We kid!). But seriously, he’s expected to talk about everything from pace of play to gambling to his new leadership team. He will be grilled on what the answer is for MASN, what’s happening in Oakland and Tampa and if we’ll ever see in-market streaming.

    -- Hitting home: Manfred said opening day finally brought it home to him that he is really the commissioner of baseball. From today’s NYT: "It was one of those moments where it really hit me. They are about to play a game, with my name on the baseball. It's an amazing feeling."

    -- What People Are Asking: Will Mark Tatum talk about the NBA’s new jersey sponsorship? How will Scott Blackmun position Boston 2024? What is Bill Daly’s take on Las Vegas ticket sales? Will Oliver Luck touch on a new governance model for the NCAA? Place your bets -- Who will make the most news today?

    -- WCOS LIVE! Neulion and SBJ/SBD bring you WCOS LIVE! – Starting at 7:30 PT/10:30 ET, we’ll bring you a full slate of live streaming interviews. Many of the boldfaced names we’ve already mentioned will appear, including Skipper, Silver, Blackmun, Luck, Manfred, Daly, plus NBA owners Lacob (Warriors) and Ranadive (Kings). One-minute registration gets you access to the live stream and all archived videos: http://worldcongresslive.neulion.com/#!home

    -- HASHTAG FOLLOW THIS!: To keep up with all the action today, follow us on Twitter @SBJSBD, and keep checking the event hashtag, #sbjwcs.

    -- Don’t Miss Today: The Champions lunch is always a hit and, for the first time, all six members of this year’s class will attend: Mike Trager, David Falk, Donna de Varona, Len Elmore, Russ Granik and Tom Jernstedt. Adam Silver is expected to be at the lunch in support of Granik. – Back to back CMO panels: It will be interesting to see the different strategies of both the property side and brand side CMOs. For the property side CMOs, it marks one of the first major public appearances by Dawn Hudson since she joined the NFL. It certainly is one of the few times newcomers Hudson and Pam El of the NBA have been on the stage with their league peers….Cocktails in the Diamond Ballroom Foyer will easily be the place to be for networking, gossiping (no, we don’t do that!) and catching up.

    -- Early Risers? Virtually no one at the LA Live Starbucks this morning. Maybe all the early-rising East Coasters had already come and gone by the time we stumbled in. There were a few in the gym though. Most notable early sighting: AEG chief Phil Anschutz power walking the conference level of the JW Marriott.

    -- What’s Up Tonight? What we know about: Proskauer is feteing VIPs at Faith and Flower, hosted by Joe Leccese, Rob Freeman, Howard Ganz, Wayne Katz, Jon Oram and Brad Ruskin. AEG is hosting cocktails at Target Terrace, and we hear that the Boston Bruins’ Charlie Jacobs and Delaware North’s Rick Abramson are hosting an exclusive dinner at Patina Restaurant with executive chef Paul Lee. Good luck getting into any of those parties. Everyone else can probably be found at the lobby bar after 10.

    -- You Should Be Reading: Stories that people will be talking about today: Have you read the Vanity Fair piece on the mess that is NBC News yet? Must reading for people who like media gossip, as the story has details on future Fox Sports executive Jamie Horowitz’s short, tempestuous tenure there. “It was then, Horowitz’s defenders argue, that Matt Lauer intervened to get Horowitz fired.”



    IN TODAY’S BUZZ: Rory McIlroy is the most marketable golfer in the world, according to an exclusive survey of more than 40 industry marketers, tournament directors and media conducted by SportsBusiness Daily. McIlroy received 56% of all first-place votes to take the top spot, outdistancing second-place Rickie Fowler and third-place Tiger Woods. Check out Morning Buzz for more: http://www.sportsbusinessdaily.com/Daily/Morning-Buzz.aspx

    LAUGH TRACK: This Jimmy Fallon joke made us laugh: “Big upset in March Madness over the weekend. On Saturday, the Wisconsin Badgers beat the undefeated Kentucky Wildcats to play in tonight’s national championship. When asked how they felt about the loss, Kentucky’s players were already in the NBA so they could care less."

    Our Favorites: Yes, you will want to see who wins our “best of” kudos. We’re going to give shout outs to our top speaker, best moments, best laugh line, best panel, best dressed speaker, the best question and, of course, best moderators. Look for it in your email box tomorrow morning.

    WHAT DID WE MISS?: Any parties we should put on our calendar tonight? Any back room deals being made? Let us know at rnethery@sportsbusinessjournal.com.

    Tags: ING, World Congress of Sports Dont use ever, ATT, Marriott, CES, GE, MLB, BT, IMG, NHL, AEG, Champion, Champions, DC United, MLS
  • TV Timeout: Play Ball!

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    ESPN’s Keith Olbermann addressed the way in which the Angels have handled the recent substance abuse relapse by OF Josh Hamilton, “Unfortunately today, we accept the premise of a sports team trying to change the rules of a dark part of the game retroactively long after they had been agreed upon so that the team could save as much as $23 million, maybe as much as $83 million. Because without a complex series of rationalizations like that for amoral behavior, the sports business itself would vanish before sunrise and $23 million will buy a lot of rationalizations and it turns the Angels and baseball’s attitude towards Josh Hamilton into some kind of business decision over which the fan shrugs his shoulders instead of recognizing it for the human atrocity it is” (“Olbermann,” ESPN2, 4/6).

    TECH SAVVY: MLBAM President of Business & Media Bob Bowman, in response to a Wall Street Journal report that the league would stop fans from streaming game footage said, “Obviously, we're a friend of technology. Every social media technology that’s come along, whether it’s Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook and now Periscope, they've all been fans and friends of baseball. So we expect our fans to use it. We don't expect them to stream a game. That's absurd” (“Squawk Alley,” CNBC, 4/7).

    NATIONALS HONOR: MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said of the Nationals hosting the ’18 All-Star Game, “The Nationals and the entire Lerner family were absolutely dogged in their pursuit of this All-Star Game. I thought somebody was going to ask me ‘how dogged’ and I was concerned about how I was going to answer that” (“Mets-Nationals,” MASN, 4/6).

  • Podcast: Will Pac-12 blow up rights model?

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    College writer Michael Smith and editor Tom Stinson talk about the Pac-12's plans to study rolling up multimedia rights and selling them across all 12 schools, and how that could alter the college rights model as we know it.

    Tags: Media, Colleges, Marketing and Sponsorship, SBJSBD Podcast
  • ESPN agrees to buy stake in DraftKings

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    The stakes in daily fantasy keep getting bigger.

    DraftKings is close to getting significant financial backing from arguably the most powerful brand in sports: ESPN.

    Industry sources said ESPN has agreed to invest hundreds of millions of dollars for up to a 20 percent stake in DraftKings. The major investment will be part of the daily fantasy sports operator’s next round of venture capital financing in May.

    As part of the deal, DraftKings will sign a three-year advertising commitment that will, in turn, pay hundreds of millions back to ESPN, sources said. The ad commitment will give DraftKings exclusive status on much of ESPN’s fantasy content across all of the company’s media platforms, including fantasy sports analyst Matthew Berry’s columns and podcasts.

    ESPN and DraftKings declined to comment. Last month, DraftKings Chief Executive Jason Robins said he was actively developing a Series D venture round that would value the company at $1 billion. ESPN’s investment could increase that, and 10-figure valuations are generally reserved for only the hottest of startups.

    Robins spoke to SportsBusiness Journal last month about the developing investment talks, saying, “We’re spending a lot of time thinking about what’s next … this space presents a huge amount of opportunities. We’re not only changing how fantasy is played, but more fundamentally, how fans engage with sports.”

    Neither DraftKings nor its chief rival FanDuel have turned a profit. Armed with capital, a battle for official team and league affiliations has raged over the past year, and each now holds dozens of such relationships. The NHL and MLB Advanced Media each are aligned with DraftKings, and the NBA last fall took an equity position and a board seat with FanDuel.

    In that scrum for partnerships, ESPN remained a holdout, though it is one of the largest and most prominent players in traditional fantasy sports. Given ESPN’s expansive reach, a formal alignment represents a major win for Boston-based DraftKings.

    “An affiliation with ESPN is industry redefining,” said Geoff Reiss, a former ESPN executive who was in a similar position two decades ago when ESPN parent Disney bought Starwave, which became ESPN.com. “ESPN represents the largest and most consistent promotional platform in sports for daily fantasy. The only other kingmaker as far as this industry goes is the NFL.”

    Industry sources said ESPN elected to buy into DraftKings after a “bake-off” in which executives for both DraftKings and FanDuel pitched their companies and their business prospects to senior ESPN executives, including President John Skipper.

    Among the key factors elevating Draft-Kings in the minds of ESPN executives was its less cluttered and conflicting ownership structure. DraftKings’ last round of financing, a $41 million Series C last summer, was led by venture capital groups such as The Raine Group and prior investors such as Atlas Venture and Redpoint Ventures. FanDuel, by comparison, already has media partners among its investor group as Comcast Ventures and NBC Sports Ventures participated in its $70 million Series D that closed in September, and Rick Cordella, NBC Sports Group senior vice president of digital media, is a board observer for the company.

    Earlier this year, an ESPN group led by John Kosner, executive vice president of digital and print media, was charged with figuring out how ESPN could participate in daily fantasy, which has seen meteoric growth over the past year. Kosner’s team considered multiple options, including launching its own rival daily fantasy operation and an equity investment. That study reached the highest levels of ESPN parent Walt Disney Co., which presented some issues given Disney’s long-standing opposition to gambling.

    But daily fantasy operators, and the fantasy sports industry at large, have sought to create clear distinctions between gambling and daily fantasy, including the discouragement of marketing through overt gambling-style terms such as “rake.” And the runaway growth of daily fantasy — DraftKings alone is projecting to increase its revenue fivefold this year to $150 million — has proved too much to ignore.

    Staff writer Eric Fisher contributed to this report.

    Tags: ESPN, ING, GE, CES, Media, ATT, Ping, And 1, Ally, UPS, NHL, MLB, NBA, NFL, Comcast, NBC, Dell, Walt Disney
  • Getting to know this year’s Forty Under 40: What they like to read

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    We asked each of the 40:

    What is a book you would recommend?

    Here are their responses.

    Michael Allen: “Steve Jobs,” by Walter Isaacson

    Chris Allphin: For practical purposes, “Presentation Zen,” by Garr Reynolds; easy way to make a massive change in the way you communicate. And for life-changing inspiration, “Where Men Win Glory,” by Jon Krakauer.

    Renie Anderson: “Bossypants,” by Tina Fey

    Lyle Ayes: “The Art of Fielding,” by Chad Harbach

    Nick Baker: “When I Stop Talking, You’ll Know I’m Dead,” by Jerry Weintraub

    Tom Brady: Two that I recommend consistently are “Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen,” by Christopher McDougall; and “Shadow Divers: The True Adventure of Two Americans Who Risked Everything to Solve One of the Last Mysteries of World War II,” by Robert Kurson.

    Sashi Brown: “Good to Great,” by Jim Collins

    Nicholas Carey: Anything by Michael Lewis, whether it’s “The Blind Side,” “Liar’s Poker” or “Moneyball.”

    Justin Connolly: “John Adams,” by David McCollough

    Juan Delgado: “The Hard Thing About Hard Things,” by Ben Horowitz

    Ray DeWeese: “The Seven Storey Mountain,” by Thomas Merton

    Jennifer Duberstein: “The Giving Tree,” by Shel Silverstein. (Even for adults, it echoes a good lesson.)

    Janet Duch: “To Kill A Mockingbird,” by Harper Lee

    Rosalyn Durant: “The Survivors Club,” by Ben Sherwood

    Colin Faulkner: “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” by Stephen Covey

    Tom Griffiths: “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” by Stephen Covey

    Eric Guthoff: “Good to Great,” by Jim Collins; and “Oh, the Places You’ll Go,” by Dr. Seuss

    Flavil Hampsten: “The Perfect SalesForce” by Derek Gatehouse, or “Who Moved My Cheese?,” by Spencer Johnson

    Seth Jacobs: “The Book of Basketball,” by Bill Simmons, for a sports book; “East of Eden,” by John Steinbeck, for a classic

    Dave Kaval: “Grinding it Out” — the autobiography of Ray Kroc

    Chris Klein: “The Boys in the Boat,” by Daniel James Brown

    AJ Maestas: “Freakonomics,” by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner

    Paraag Marathe: “The Namesake,” by Jhumpa Lahiri; a great book about growing up in an immigrant family.

    Chris Marinak: “As They See ’Em,” by Bruce Weber (about life as an MLB umpire).

    Stephen McArdle: “Permission to Parent,” by Robin Berman, for figuring out how to raise a toddler for the first time; “The Lord of the Rings,” by J.R.R. Tolkien, for a book that I can pick up no matter how many times I’ve read it.

    Scott Milleisen: “An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth,” by Chris Hadfield

    Dan Reed: Before you watch the next season of “Game of Thrones,” read the “Song of Ice and Fire” books by George R.R. Martin. They’re fantastic and better than the show. (As a shorter alternative: “The Bone Clocks,” by David Mitchell.)

    Jason Robins: “The Stranger,” by Albert Camus

    Frank Saviano: “Ben Hogan’s Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf”

    André Schunk: “Catch 22,” by Joseph Heller

    Chad Seigler: “I Feel Great,” by Pat Croce

    Dan Shell: John Feinstein’s “The Last Amateurs” or Jim Collins’ “Good to Great”

    Brad Sims: Anything by Michael Lewis; not just his sports books (“Moneyball,” “The Blind Side”), but I also love his books on the economy and Wall Street (“Liar’s Poker,” “The Big Short,” “Boomerang,” “Flash Boys”).  

    Jared Smith: “Start with Why,” by Simon Sinek

    Teri Patterson Smith: “Steve Jobs,” by Walter Isaacson

    Meredith Starkey: “Lincoln,” by Gore Vidal

    Mike Tomon: “Outliers,” by Malcolm Gladwell

    Danny Townsend: “One Crowded Hour,” by Tim Bowden

    Jennifer van Dijk: “The 48 Laws of Power,” by Robert Greene

    Nicole Jeter West: “Instinct: The Power to Unleash Your Inborn Drive,” by T.D. Jakes

    Tags: On The Ground, Forty Under 40
  • TV Timeout: Business Partners

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    Under Armour Founder, Chair & CEO Kevin Plank, on the company’s ties with the Ravens following the Ray Rice domestic-violence scandal: “We are dear partners with the Ravens here in our backyard. It’s an incredibly important institution here in the city of Baltimore. But we’re also aware there were some things that didn’t go right, and I think the NFL is taking some steps to arrest that, and I’m very fortunate that we have a company that will have partners like the Ravens and the NFL standing next to us if we ever needed them as well” (“Jim Rome on Showtime,” Showtime, 4/1).

    ROUSING OVATION: UFC fighter Daniel Cormier, on Ronda Rousey’s stardom: “She's a humongous star. As I’ve texted (UFC President Dana White) during the week and I said, ‘Ronda has eclipsed anything that anyone could have ever thought that she would be in the sport'” (“UFC Tonight,” FS1, 4/1).

    RISE UP: KPMG Chair & CEO John Veihmeyer said of the company’s new ad campaign featuring golfers Stacy Lewis and Phil Mickelson, “The message of the ad, and there's a couple of different ads, is really consistent with the message of the overall effort around the WPGA Championship which is to elevate women’s golf onto a stage that’s comparable to men’s golf” (“Morning Drive,” Golf Channel, 4/1).

    SIGN OF THE TIMES: Golf Channel’s Lisa Cornwell said of LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan signing a six-year contract extension, “There's so much positive energy with the LPGA Tour, not just from the players and the fans, but the staff, from the media. This is such a great get. There was real concern … some major organization was going to come try to snag him. When you look at the success that he’s had it made perfect sense” (“Morning Drive,” Golf Channel, 4/1).

    : FS1’s Ariel Helwani said of New York’s MMA ban, “It’s been political nonsense for so long. It’s been breaking my heart. I get so excited every year, I think it is going to happen and it just becomes a tease” (“UFC Tonight,” FS1, 4/1).

    CHECKS AND BALANCES: NFL free agent OLB Dwight Freeney, on suing Bank of America: “I didn’t want to be another statistic, another athlete doing a bad thing not putting their money where they need to put their money in a safe place. Bank of America recruited me (and) I trusted the bank” (“Opening Bell With Maria Bartiromo,” Fox Business, 4/1).

  • Getting to know this year’s Forty Under 40: Let’s have a party

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    We asked each of the 40:

    If you could build your ultimate tailgate, who would be in that dream group of people at the tailgate with you?

    Here are their responses.

    Michael Allen: We would need representation from each of my favorite childhood teams: Drazen Petrovic (Nets), Don Mattingly (Yankees), Bill Parcells (N.Y. Giants) and Larry Johnson (UNLV), and I would throw in Larry David for comic relief.

    Chris Allphin: My first instinct was to name some of my sports idols: Steve Young, Terry Steinbach, Joe Thornton, etc. But upon consideration, we’re talking about a tailgate party. I think having fun trumps being starstruck, so I’d probably take five or six of my best friends from high school. We all still keep in touch, and we’re guaranteed a good time. Maybe add Matt Leinart just to be safe.

    Renie Anderson: I would combine all my best friends from growing up in Kentucky and those I now have as an adult along with my family. They are all hilarious and would hit it off. It would be a tailgate full of shenanigans and belly-aching laughter. Kentucky meets NYC: It would be perfect.

    Lyle Ayes: The cast of “Entourage,” Charles Barkley, Allen Iverson, and probably Terrell Owens and Donovan McNabb for kicks.

    Nick Baker: My family, of course; buddies from Denver; ASU crew; and a collection of characters from Muhammad Ali, Abraham Lincoln, John Elway, Alan and Baby Carlos from “The Hangover” movie, Warren Buffett — and maybe a doctor for safety purposes.

    Tom Brady: Making the assumption that they would all be sports fans (and that I can span decades), I’d want to learn, debate and have fun. Here it goes: Jim Brown, Tom Colicchio, Lewis & Clark, Bono & The Edge, Queen Elizabeth, Tina Fey, Spike Lee, Vince Lombardi, Joe Namath, George Patton, Teddy Roosevelt, and my mother — because she always did a brilliant job getting everyone talking at parties.

    Sashi Brown: Jim Brown, Gregg Popovich, Bill Walsh, Bill Russell and Michael Jordan.

    Nicholas Carey: My father, Arnold Palmer, Will Ferrell and a few buddies.

    Justin Connolly: A mix of friends from high school, college and graduate school.

    Juan Delgado: I’m not really into celebrities — I think they’d be uncomfortable, as would I — so, my best buddies from college, and two of my current colleagues, Rich Routman and Oliver Slipper.

    Ray DeWeese: My wife, Jimmy Fallon, Will Ferrell, Vince Vaughn and my staff.

    Jennifer Duberstein: My CAA Sports colleagues.

    Janet Duch: Current family and friends.

    Rosalyn Durant: George Rogers, Darius Rucker and other passionate Gamecock fans.

    Colin Faulkner: Rob Manfred, Roger Goodell, Adam Silver, Gary Bettman and Don Garber.

    Tom Griffiths: My high school buddies, girlfriend, LeBron, Shaq, Peyton Manning, Michael Strahan, Dave Grohl, Tony Robbins and Will Ferrell.

    Eric Guthoff: The GlideSlope team, along with my family and friends.

    Flavil Hampsten: I’d have a few of my favorite athletes/artists/actors and some of my good friends. A cross-section of this would be: LeBron James, Jimmy Fallon, Vince Vaughn, Hulk Hogan, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jay-Z and Kate Upton.

    Seth Jacobs: Some core friends, Jalen Rose, Bill Simmons, Will Ferrell, Vince Vaughn, Eddie Vedder, and maybe a few others.

    Dave Kaval: My family, close friends — and Charles Barkley.

    Chris Klein: My family.

    AJ Maestas: My family. I don’t get to see them often given the distance and pain of getting to Alaska. My brothers in particular are fun, funny and love football; one even played at UW. This would obviously take place at Husky Stadium or the Rose Bowl.

    Paraag Marathe: My family and friends; people I care about.

    Chris Marinak: Steve Jobs, Mark Cuban and Warren Buffett.

    Stephen McArdle: David Chang for the food and drinks; a Southern rock cover band for the music; my UVA tailgating buddies so we can forget for a day that we’re almost 40; and my wife and sons so I can start the UVA brainwashing early.

    Scott Milleisen: Bono, Stephen Colbert, Peyton Manning and my wife — who adores Bono, Stephen Colbert and Peyton Manning.

    Dan Reed: Muhammad Ali, Barack Obama, Bill Simmons, Dave Chappelle and Harvey Reed (my dad).

    Jason Robins: Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Albert Einstein, Vince Lombardi, Babe Ruth, Gordie Howe, Wilt Chamberlain, Sandy Koufax, Carlos Slim, Jonathan Kraft, and my best friends and family.

    Frank Saviano: The 1986 New York Mets, the original “SNL” cast, and my friends; should be guaranteed entertainment.

    André Schunk: My wife, Sarah; Jerry Seinfeld; Jon Stewart; Dirk Nowitzki; Roger Federer; Pelé; Bo Jackson; and Michelle Obama

    Chad Seigler: My wife, Kelly; George W. Bush; Jimmy Buffett; Dale Earnhardt Jr.; and Blake Shelton.

    Dan Shell: Definitely my siblings and their families, since we aren’t all together often. From there, probably just some of my close friends and the mentors I have been lucky to have in my career. Then just throw in Clayton Kershaw maybe.

    Brad Sims: The best party I’ve ever been to, by far, was my wedding. I would invite everyone who was at my wedding to this tailgate and try to recreate that day, which was the best day of my life. My friends and family are extremely important to me, and if I could only choose one group to be with, that would be it.

    Jared Smith: Harry Carey (I’m a lifelong Cubs fan), Michael Jordan, Arnold Palmer, Stephen Hawking, Hayden Fry and Eddie Vedder.

    Teri Patterson Smith: My husband, my parents, my brother and Oprah Winfrey.

    Meredith Starkey: Friends, family and Clemson University football legends.

    Mike Tomon: Family, college roommates, Plato, Dan and Margaret Duckhorn, Sugar Ray Leonard, John Coltrane, any member of the Navy Seals, Black Crowes, Kobayashi, Coach Chuck Kyle, and Jay-Z.

    Danny Townsend: My wife and two daughters. They never come to sporting events with me, so if I could get them to the tailgate, it would be a treat!

    Jennifer van Dijk: The five girls from Mount Holyoke that I didn’t miss a minute with in college and who have now spread all across the country.

    Nicole Jeter West: Family and close friends.

    Tags: On The Ground, Forty Under 40
  • TV Timeout: Silent Treatment

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    ESPN’s Jason Whitlock said of the Indiana religious freedom law, “You hear that silence? That’s silence from current athletes all over the country who have said nothing about this” (“PTI,” ESPN, 3/31). ESPN’s Howard Bryant said, “The entire country is hitting a critical mass on these issues and when you look at sports leagues especially … that I don’t think they’re going to be able to stand on the sidelines, especially when their players aren’t standing on the sidelines” (“Olbermann,” ESPN2, 3/31). CSNBAYAREA.com’s Ray Ratto said of the law’s impact on sports leagues, “This creates a public relations problem for them that I think they had already thought they had put behind them” (“Yahoo Sports Talk Live,” CSN Bay Area, 3/31).

    FLIGHT PATTERN: PFT’s Mike Florio, on Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff’s role in the team’s front office: “Dimitroff still has some authority, but not nearly what he used to have. Now it’s going to be about building consensus, getting everyone on the same page and trying to keep it all together from a big picture standpoint” (“PFT,” NBCSN, 3/31).

    PUNCH DRUNK: MLB Network’s Kevin Millar said of fans being able to buy hard alcohol at Citizens Bank Park, “They’re an angry scene already and now you’re going to add alcohol? I used to go into the Vet and they led the league in fights. … I don’t know if this is a great idea” (“Intentional Talk,” MLB Network, 3/31).

    KRAFT WORKS: PFT’s Florio, on Patriots Owner Robert Kraft testifying at the trial of former NFLer Aaron Hernandez: “On a day when we saw wall to wall network coverage on ESPN and NFL Network of the Jameis Winston throw-the-football in t-shirt and shorts pro-day workout, the testimony of an NFL owner in a murder trial was largely ignored” (“PFT,” NBCSN, 3/31). ESPN’s Whitlock: “I feel bad for Bob Kraft. Who thought being an owner would put you in the middle of a murder trial?” (“PTI,” ESPN, 3/31).

    RUSH HOUR: ESPN’s J.A. Adande said of Knicks President Phil Jackson having a plan in place to improve the last-place Knicks, “Well that makes me run out and want to buy the most expensive ticket prices in the NBA” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 3/31). ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith said of the video Jackson sent to season-ticket holders asking for their support, “It’s ridiculous, absolutely asinine. Nobody in New York should buy anything (from) the New York Knicks right now” (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 3/31).

    MONEY MEN: FS1’s Petros Papadakis said of MLB salaries averaging more than $4M in ‘15, “God bless America and that great baseball union that’s so old” (“Fox Sports Live Countdown,” FS1, 3/31).

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