• San Diego Chargers may fight over L.A.

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    The San Diego Chargers may try to block the entry of an NFL team into Los Angeles, contending a relocated franchise there would significantly threaten the team’s business.

    With two other teams, the Oakland Raiders and St. Louis Rams, free to move after this season and eyeing Los Angeles amid long-standing NFL efforts to find a stadium site there, the Chargers are now speaking up publicly for the first time. Any action by the team would further complicate an already contentious issue for the league.

    “Over the last 20 years, there hasn’t been a team in the L.A. market. We have reached out into that market and 25 to 30 percent of our business comes from the L.A. [and] Orange County areas,” said Dean Spanos, the Chargers’ owner. “Putting a team in there right now, or two teams, would have a huge impact on our business going forward. So we are trying to protect our business in San Diego. … It would really be harmful to us.”

    This marks the first time that the Chargers have revealed the amount of business they generate from the Los Angeles market, which sits 120 miles north of San Diego, though Orange County is about 40 miles closer.

    It’s also the first time that Spanos has been so vocal publicly about opposition to another team relocating there. It’s something he said he’s shared with his colleagues and Commissioner Roger Goodell.

    “I have talked to owners about it, they understand. I know the commissioner does,” he added. “[I]f you put another team in there to help that team and you hurt another team, what does that do? Right. If you put two teams in there, what will that do?”

    Eric Grubman, the NFL executive vice president in charge of Los Angeles, declined to comment on Spanos’ remarks.

    Spanos could be speaking up now to send a message to the Raiders and Rams that they’ll encounter opposition, or perhaps to persuade the owners, if they assess a relocation fee, to share a disproportionate amount with the Chargers.

    Spanos stressed that he remains committed to finding a stadium solution in San Diego.

    The Chargers’ stance adds yet another layer of intrigue to the NFL’s two-decade-long quest to return to Los Angeles. The league is exploring several sites, including one downtown controlled by AEG, and has considered land near Dodgers Stadium and the Hollywood Park racetrack, among others.

    The NFL’s official policy is that Los Angeles is an “NFL market,” meaning the clubs cannot unilaterally cut a deal to relocate there. The policy suggests that, despite the Chargers’ claim that they derive almost one-third of their business from Los Angeles, it is not the team’s market.

    Owners received an update on the league’s Los Angeles efforts, with Houston Texans owner Bob McNair saying last week they are “far from a resolution.” A league source seconded that opinion, saying nothing is imminent.

    When the Raiders in the 1980s won an antitrust lawsuit against the NFL for blocking the team’s move to Los Angeles from Oakland, the ruling hinged on an NFL team already residing in the market. Left unanswered is legally whose market is it if there is no team there.

    Talk has swirled in league circles, however, that St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke is already telling people he will move the team after its lease expires at the end of this season. Kroenke, questioned about the St. Louis stadium process, referred questions to his spokesman, who did not immediately respond for comment. Kroenke recently acquired 60 acres near Hollywood Park, stoking the rumors.

    “There is a lot of speculation out there,” Spanos said, “I am waiting to see what happens.”

    If the Chargers are pressing the case with owners that the situation is dire, it may not have gotten entirely through.

    Jeff Lurie, the Philadelphia Eagles’ owner, said he had not heard the concern Spanos expressed.

    Mark Fabiani, the political consultant who has been working with the Chargers since 2002 on the stadium effort in San Diego, nevertheless, like Spanos, is worried about facts changing quickly on the ground in Los Angeles.

    “While the Chargers have been searching the last 12 years for a stadium solution here in San Diego, there have been a great many articles about the supposedly imminent return of the NFL to Los Angeles,” he said. “What’s changed now is that, for the first time in the Chargers’ 12-year search, there are at least two other NFL teams that could be seeking to apply for relocation.”

    Tags: On the Ground
  • Podcast: Assessing this week's NFL meetings

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    In the latest NFL "Behind The Headlines" podcast, NFL writer Daniel Kaplan and Executive Editor Abraham Madkour assess this week's NFL meetings, what surprised them coming out of New York and how the Pegulas fared as they were approved as the new owners of the Buffalo Bills.

    Among the comments:

    "Looking at these meetings two weeks ago, one expected a circus. It's in New York, the whole Ray Rice scandal, the media capital of the world descending on lower Manhattan … and it really wasn't that way."

    "Roger Goodell seemed fully in control of the press conference this time, as opposed to two weeks ago when it really got away from him."

    "The Pegulas, they'll probably have a honeymoon period in Buffalo. They're seen as the saviors. They're going to keep the team there. But I was struck by how they did not formally address the media. Terry Pegula read a prepared statement, did not take questions. I thought at least he would say something about the stadium situation. … I hope he will become more of a public face for the Buffalo Bills than this suggests."

    Tags: NFL, SBJSBD Podcast
  • TV Timeout: Universal Appeal

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    ESPN N.Y.’s Dan Graziano said of the NFL Owners meetings, "The role of the commissioner is a prominent topic (but) … the support of the commissioner seems universal" ("NFL Insiders," ESPN, 10/8). ESPN’s Mike Golic said, “For the majority, the players are good guys and their policy, as Roger Goodell has admitted, has been bad. It's been too lenient and hasn't been harsh enough. That's what needs to change” ("Mike & Mike," ESPN Radio, 10/9). 

    PICK A SPOT: N.Y. Daily News' Bob Raissman said of the MLB playoffs, "I need a loan because I had to hire a private detective to find the early round games in the series on television. Five different networks playing hide and seek with baseball" ("Daily News Live," SNY, 10/8).

    FEELING BLUE: CBS Sports Network’s Jim Rome said of reports Dodger Stadium will be a temporary location for an NFL team, “The last thing you want to do is jack up a beautiful ballpark with a horrible looking football team” (“Rome,” CBSSN, 10/8).  

    MOSTLY TROUBLE: ESPN’s Colin Cowherd said of the NBA’s new TV deal, “NBA stars and star quarterbacks are worth the money. They change games. Outside of that, I think stars are completely overrated in American sports. They don't win titles. They create headaches, drama and entitlement” ("The Herd with Colin Cowherd," ESPN Radio, 10/8).

    ANY GIVEN THURSDAY: ESPN's Robert Flores, on the "Thursday Night Football" games often being blowouts: "It's bad football but it's good TV and at the end of the day, especially if that day is Thursday, people would rather watch the NFL than anything else" ("Olbermann," ESPN2, 10/8).

  • TV Timeout: The Cost Of Doing Business

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    Sportscaster Jim Gray said of the NBA’s new TV deal, “It doesn't cause the ticket price to go up one penny because of the TV deals. I'm sure that will change, however, with satellite TV and cable distributers, that's where you'll see the cost and ultimately probably with some advertisers. They're going to have to raise the rates on whatever it is that they're selling to the public to buy this time” ("Countdown to the Closing Bell," Fox Business, 10/6). ESPN VP/League Sports Programming & Acquisitions Julie Sobieski, on the new NBA rights deal: “It touched every corner of our company. It’s a true team effort” (“Front & Center,” ESPN.com, 10/6).

    TEXAS-SIZED PROBLEM: ESPN's Michael Wilbon said of visiting fans in Dallas, “Cowboys are not as popular as they used to be from years of losing and not doing anything in the playoffs, so they got a problem, period, not a home-field problem specifically” ("PTI," ESPN, 10/6).

    NOTHING BUT A NUMBER: MLB Commissioner-elect Rob Manfred said, “A big focus for me is going to be increasing youth participation in the game. I think it's crucial for the sport being healthy in terms of its fan base" ("Fast Money Halftime Report," CNBC, 10/6).

    ONE FOR THE HARD-CORE FANS: ESPN's Bomani Jones said of the Royals and Orioles playing in the ALCS, "This is a great series for people who really, really, really enjoy watching baseball. It is not going to pick up a single casual viewer. But you know what, that sounds like what baseball has become so maybe they can be happy with having a good series. But if this is an outreach championship series, it's going to fail" ("Highly Questionable," ESPN2, 10/6). 

  • Podcast: Analyzing the new NBA media deal

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    Media writer John Ourand, NBA reporter John Lombardo and Executive Editor Abraham Madkour discuss the NBA's massive new media rights agreement.

    Among the comments:

    "It's nearly three times the current deal that's in place. That's just money they wanted to lock in. … Adam (Silver) was very clear this morning. He said, 'We feel like we didn't leave any money on the table.'"

    "The media executives, they're not dopes, obviously. They're paying this much more, but they're also getting a ton more rights than they had been getting."

    "The thing I'm going to be watching from a media standpoint is with NFL Now and these over-the-top networks like this. … If it's going to have live games, they're going after cord cutters. … It could make this whole cable TV ecosystem go up in flames."

    Tags: Media, NBA, SBJSBD Podcast
  • Podcast: Analyzing the NFL on TV

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    Executive Editor Abraham Madkour and SportsBusiness Daily ratings guru Austin Karp go inside the television data four weeks into the NFL season in this week's NFL "Behind The Headlines" podcast.

    Among the comments:

    "It's kind of been a mixed bag for the NFL's TV partners, but the audience is still extremely strong."

    "We've had some pretty poor games in terms of prime-time programming … but we haven't seen that impact the numbers too much."

    "There's no doubt that the NFL is still the marquee programming out there on television."

    Tags: NFL, Media, SBJSBD Podcast
  • TV Timeout: Black Hole

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    Columnist Kevin Blackstone, on ESPN's Jon Gruden possibly returning to the Raiders as coach: "He'd be foolish to leave this network and go back to that mess in Oakland where he once was and knows it better than anybody and try and fix it. They have been a pathetic franchise since they lost in the Super Bowl in 2002" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 10/1).

    UP, UP AND AWAY? CNBC's Scott Wapner said of the NFL and DirecTV reaching an agreement on the "Sunday Ticket” package, "I wonder how much my bill for the 'NFL Ticket' is going to go up now" ("Closing Bell," CNBC, 10/1).

    SCRIPTED RESPONSE:  ESPN's Tony Kornheiser said of Derek Jeter’s The Players’ Tribune website, "You will get athletes sitting in front of a camera, reading off a prompter statements that their agents have written for them" ("PTI," ESPN, 10/1).

    GOOD YEAR: LPGA Commissioner Michael Whan, on this season: “No matter what angle you take, whether it's TV ratings, whether it's who's winning on tour, whether it’s the race for the CME Globe, all of the stories are pretty good this year" ("Morning Drive," Golf Channel, 10/2).

    NAMING RIGHTS: ESPN's Bomani Jones said of the FCC possibly banning the name Redskins, “Important people seem to want Dan Snyder to change this name. How long is it going to be before he realizes, in the words of a great philosopher, ship be sinking?" ("Highly Questionable," ESPN2, 10/1).

  • TV Timeout: Voices Of Dissent

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    ESPN’s Mike Golic, on turmoil at the Univ. of Michigan: “You've got students at the president's house chanting, ‘Fire the AD,' holding signs saying, ‘Money over tradition.’ Do you even know what you're holding? Were you marching to the president's house because of the situation with Shane Morris? Or was this a collective thing of, ‘We're not happy with where our program is now and it needs to change?’” (“Mike & Mike,” ESPN Radio, 10/1).

    WINNING IS EVERYTHING: Former NFLer Kirk Morrison said of the Raiders, “Quit worrying about building a stadium and build a team because if you build a team, then you win. When you win you get a stadium” (“America’s Pregame,” FS1, 9/30).

    TIME’S UP: ESPN’s Skip Bayless said of Michael Phelps being arrested, “It’s time for people in this country to quit giving a pass to Michael Phelps just because he is an 18-time Gold Medalist and an Olympic golden boy. All I know is that he still does ads for Subway, Under Armor and Visa” (“First Take,” ESPN2, 10/1).  

    CARPE DIEM: CBSSN's AmyTrask: "There exists right now a moment in time where the National Football League can lead. It can seize this opportunity to foster transformative social change" ("We Need To Talk," CBSSN, 9/30).

    GAME TIME: MLB Network’s Kevin Millar said of MLB playoffs, “It's a fun time. When you have Monday Night Football and playoff baseball, there's something to do because some nights get boring. Now you have some ball to watch” (“Intentional Talk,” MLB Network, 9/30).

  • Podcast: SEC, Pac-12 take fan's eye view

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    College writer Michael Smith and Assistant Managing Editor Tom Stinson discuss how the Southeastern Conference and Pac-12 Conference are attacking the fan experience from different sides, as well as Val Ackerman and the new Big East's first year.

    Tags: SEC, Big East, Colleges, SBJSBD Podcast, Pac 12
  • TV Timeout: London Bridge

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    NBC’s Tony Dungy, on playing in London: “Every year we'd get the call from the league office. Bill Polian would come into my office and say, ‘Do we want to give up a home game to go play in London?’ I'd say, ‘Are you nuts?’ That was the end of the conversation” (“FNIA,” NBC, 9/28). CBS’ Charlie D’Agata: “What at first felt like a kind of gimmick has tapped into a serious market and big business. (For) the first time there are three NFL matchups here this year, all sellouts, 250,000 tickets” (“CBS This Morning,” CBS, 9/27).

    SUPPORT GROUP: NASCAR driver Tony Stewart, on his sponsors: “It's obviously a tough circumstance for a corporation to be a part of but they've been very supportive through this process and I can't speak to what the future will be for them. But they've been supportive to this point and that's something I've been very grateful for” ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 9/29).

    THUMBS UP: Cowboys TE Jason Witten, on the league’s issues: “I thought Commissioner Goodell did a good job of kind of standing up and owning it and saying, ‘We made a mistake.’ Obviously, as players, mistakes were made. But at the same time, you’re in the spotlight and you have an obligation and responsibility as athletes” (“FNIA,” NBC, 9/28).

    ONE AND THE SAME? Sports on Earth's Will Leitch, on ESPN’s Bill Simmons’ suspension: "Simmons is maybe an unlikely martyr for censorship and free speech … (and) he got tied into what's generally been going on with NFL rather than just being something that was just inside ESPN and that's why this became such a big deal" ("Reliable Sources," CNN, 9/28).      

    CHARITABLE CAUSE: ESPN’s Mike Golic said of Bengals DT Devon Still’s jersey sales, “Let’s be honest, it’s a horrible story. We are talking about a child with cancer. But then all the good that the money can eventually do for others in that situation is truly fantastic” ("Mike & Mike," ESPN Radio, 9/29). 

    TRUE COLORS: SNL’s Michael Che said of President Obama, "You thought people flipped out over your tan suit, wait until they see you in a purple suit. You could give the next State of the Union looking like the No. 1 pick at the NBA Draft" ("SNL," NBC, 9/27).

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