In Boston, Peter Gammons compares Cal Ripken's feat this year with Babe Ruth's effect after the Black Sox scandal -- having the potential to save the sport. Gammons writes that acting MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, who was "genuinely touched" by the Camden Yards celebration, "has to convince his fellow owners that this is what the game is about; baseball is not as simple as Wal-Mart." And MLBPA Exec Dir Don Fehr, "must also grasp the moment. When they resume talks soon, they must keep quiet, get it done and not soil what Ripken hath wrought" (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/10). In Philadelphia, Jayson Stark writes of Selig's and Fehr's presence: "Let's hope that what they saw and what they felt remain as firmly embedded in their memories as it will inside the people who only want to keep loving baseball as much as they did that night" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 9/10). LOOKING BACK, AND AHEAD: Selig spoke with Tom Haudricourt of the MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL on his tenure as acting Commissioner. Selig: "There's never been a dull moment. ... Nobody regrets more the interruptions, the sadness of a year ago. But if it leads to long-term peace that future generations can enjoy without having to worry like we have the past 30 years, it will all have been worth it" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 9/10).
Leagues Governing Bodies
With the signing of Deion Sanders, Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones continued to hold the off-the-field spotlight as the NFL entered Week 2. However, one of the NFL's newer owners, the Patriots' Robert Kraft, spoke out against Jones' deals with Nike and Pepsi and his attacks on NFL Properties. Kraft: "We're the best sports entertainment property in America. Those who are privileged to be a part of it should work hard to make it work. When we run our club it's important that we maximize our opportunities, but not at the expense of the whole league. I always try to stay within the boundaries. Sometimes I'll benefit and sometimes I won't" (Timothy Smith, N.Y. TIMES, 9/10). HE'S EVERYWHERE: BUSINESS WEEK profiles Jones as a "Headliner" under, "A Cowboy the NFL Can't Lasso" (BUSINESS WEEK, 9/18 issue). Rob Prazmark, President of 21 Marketing, which has been advising the Cowboys: "The difference in opinion is a simple American business problem. [NFL Properties is] interested in enhancing the NFL corporate brand. Jerry and the other clubs are interested in selling more product." NFL Properties President Sara Levinson, in a statement: "National sponsors tell us the ability of the clubs to market themselves as a group is the primary reason the NFL is the most valuable and attractive property in sports" (Jeff Jensen, AD AGE ONLINE, 9/11). Mike Ditka, on the Deion signing: "Mr. Jerry Jones, everything in life is cyclical. What goes around comes around. Watch out!" ("NFL On NBC," 9/10). Mike Lupica: "This Nike-Cowboys deal may be one of the great money laundering scams in all of professional sports" ("Sports Reporters," ESPN, 9/10). In L.A., columnist Mike Downey calls Jones "an old Arkansas Razorback who keeps acting like a pig" (L.A. TIMES, 9/10). In Boston, Will McDonough writes the Jones-Sanders-Pepsi-Nike deal "could, very easily, shake the foundation of the league" (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/10). But in Miami, Greg Cote writes, "Jones simply forged a different way to do what the communal system discourages: Reap justly due benefit from the Cowboys' stature and good name. Let the rest of the league whine" (MIAMI HERALD, 9/8). And USA TODAY's Bryan Burwell writes, "[Jones] did not disrupt the NFL's holier-than-holy revenue-sharing pie. He simply baked himself another, equally lucrative one" (USA TODAY, 9/11). NEXT? In Tampa, Pat Yasinskas writes, "If [Jones] gets away with it, the floodgates could open for other owners to follow with exclusive deals and maybe even challenge the league's sharing of television revenues" (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 9/10). On NBC, McDonough, who reported that Jones "is now going to completely pull away as fast as he can from NFL Properties" adds, "Look for Al Davis and the Oakland Raiders to be the next to step away from NFL Properties and be the next to market themselves" ("NFL On NBC," 9/10). Dolphins VP Eddie Jones tells the MIAMI HERALD that "he wants to hear more about [the Jones-Nike deal], which could mean he's looking for wrongdoing, or for ways to apply the business acumen to his own club" (Greg Cote, MIAMI HERALD, 9/8). WHO'S AFRAID OF THE BIG, BAD SWOOSH? The NFL has not decided on a course of action against Jones, according to Paul Domowitch of the PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS. Although any solution is unlikely to include a licensing deal with Nike. According to one exec from a NFL-licensed apparel company, the NFL is "scared" of Nike. The exec: "They feel Nike is too big. Everything they've gotten involved in they've taken over. And the NFL is leery of that." Sources say Commissioner Paul Tagliabue and NFL President Neil Austrian have discussed the possibility of taking away Properties revenue or draft picks from the Cowboys (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 9/8). The Nike symbol was spotted throughout Texas Stadium Sunday: on a building near the parking lot, above ticket windows, and on stairwells, uniforms of stadium personnel and the game program. A mural on a pillar read, "Just Do It" (Mark Blaudschun, BOSTON GLOBE, 9/11). MEDIA MAN: Jones, during halftime of last night's TNT game: "I want every team to feel like they can go out and get the revenues and then they feel better about doing some of the things like we did with Deion" (TNT, 9/10).
Federal Judge David Doty said Friday he would not rule on the dissident players' motion to end the NBA lockout until after the NLRB announces the outcome of the NBPA decertification election. That announcement is expected tomorrow, but Doty said he will not rule for about two weeks and gave no indication how he might rule (Mark Asher, WASHINGTON POST, 9/9). NLRB Chair William Gould: "The question of whether a majority of the NBA players wish to continue to be represented by the union for purposes of collective bargaining with the league should be determined by this agency and not by a court" (AP/N.Y. TIMES, 9/9). OUTTA HERE: According to the ORLANDO SENTINEL, Scott Skiles has withdrawn his support from the antitrust suit against the league, and his agent, Keith Glass, has resigned from the agents advisory committee. Skiles, in a letter to pro-decertification attorney Jeffrey Kessler: "I do this for my own reasons, which I could never explain in letter form. I respect your efforts in this matter but have grown uncomfortable with certain practices which have accompanied my involvement" (Tim Povtak, ORLANDO SENTINEL, 9/9). MORE VOTES TO GET: The L.A. TIMES reports that NBA owners are scheduled to vote September 18 on the proposed CBA. NBA Commissioner David Stern: "I can tell you that I'm planning to deliver the vote, and I've never had a problem before. And I don't expect one now, although it won't be unanimous" (Scott Howard-Cooper, L.A. TIMES, 9/9). "AGENT FROM HELL"? David Falk was profiled by Tim Povtak in yesterday's ORLANDO Sentinel. Povtak, on Falk's role in the NBA labor dispute: "If the union is decertified when the election results are released this week, Falk will be instrumental in charting the next course of action the league will take." Povtak also looked at the role of agents in the labor dispute. Povtak: "Alternately described as slimy, sleazy or greedy, but rarely credited for being shrewd, innovative or caring, sports agents have been blamed for a variety of woes that have permeated the sports world for years. The labor management/fight that has handcuffed the NBA is just the latest -- but may be the most serious --problem they supposedly have caused." Keith Glass: "If the owners were such sweet people, I wouldn't have a job." Steve Kauffman: "I personally have no desire to run sports. I just want what's best for my clients. The reputation doesn't bother me. We're already looked upon as slime. You can't go much lower than that" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 9/10).
The FTC's decision to drop their investigation into the PGA Tour was a "stunning and total victory for PGA Commissioner Tim Finchem, who exhibited some of his well-honed political acumen along the way," according to Thomas Bonk of the L.A. TIMES. Bonk calls the strategy of Finchem and PGA Tour attorney Edward Moorhouse "flawless," as they enlisted Congressional support, laid the groundwork for "potential limited antitrust exemptions" if an unfavorable decision came down. Also, the two never talked about the FTC's investigation without "mentioning that money the tour donated to charity would be jeopardized." The PGA Tour spent more than $1M in legal fees over the course of the probe, and "held a stance that it needed controls to ensure strong player fields to make the sponsors and the networks happy." PGA Tour VP/Communications John Morris: "If our powers had been taken away from us, we'd have been as bad as tennis" (L.A. TIMES, 9/10). GOLFWORLD writes the ruling was not good news for the proposed World Tour, whose offices in West Palm Beach, FL, had a taped message explaining the number had been disconnected (GOLFWORLD, 9/8 issue).
Dodgers Owner Peter O'Malley said Friday that "he is willing to be the driving force behind the return of professional football to Los Angeles by building a new stadium on Dodger Stadium property and 'possibly' owning an expansion team," according to the L.A. TIMES. A proposal endorsed by O'Malley "received rave reviews during a meeting [last] week by owners on the NFL Stadium Committee, who believe that a team could be playing in an O'Malley-built facility by 1998." The TIMES notes that the NFL has already made an exception to its cross-ownership rules for Wayne Huizenga, and "it is believed they would make another exception to accommodate O'Malley, whose history as a stable, 'fan-friendly' sports owner is unmatched." One NFL source predicted the league would endorse a Dodger Stadium plan, but O'Malley is yet to meet with NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue -- so no agreement is expected soon. The Committee makes its recommendations to general ownership on September 19 in Atlanta. The TIMES also reports that NFL sources say the Coliseum is not an option, that Hollywood Park has fallen out of favor because of the planned facility's "proximity" to gambling, and that Disney Chair Michael Eisner "has yet to convice influential owners that he is serious about bringing a team to Orange County." One representative of Football LA, a mayorally-appointed task force: "L.A. needs a hero, and Peter O'Malley can be that person" (Plaschke & Simer, L.A. TIMES, 9/10). Officials in Anaheim were "caught off-guard," according to the ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER. But Tony Tavares, President of Disney Sports Enterprises, said of their interest: "We are still interested in owning an NFL team. We are going through the process in a businesslike way, through the right channels" (Janis Carr, ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 9/10). CLOCK'S TICKING: MD Gov. Parris Glendening has sent a letter to the NFL formally warning league officials "that if they do not promise by December to move a team to Baltimore, Maryland's offer to build a publicly financed stadium in Camden Yards will probably disappear," according to the Baltimore SUN. Maryland Stadium Authority Chair John Moag, to NFL owners: "You need to be aware that the opportunity in Baltimore -- which is currently the only turnkey opportunity for any NFL team in the country -- is not going to be available a lot longer." Glendening and Moag did not set a specific deadline (John Frece, Baltimore SUN, 9/9). APPAREL POLICE: ABC's Armen Keteyian reported on the NFL's crackdown on dress code violations. NFL Dir of Player Devlopment Gene Washington: "We have companies pay licensing fees to be on the field and on our sideline. It's important to us that they get full value." Cowboys QB Troy Aikman: "This has gone purely beyond corporate advertising. It's ridiculous" ("World News Sunday," ABC, 9/10).
Corel Corp., an Ottawa-based computer software company, made a multi-year, multi-million dollar offer to sponsor the WTA Tour over the weekend at the U.S. Open. The tour wpould be renamed the "Corel WTA Tour" (IMG). The deal is worth approximately $4M, according to the TAMPA TRIBUNE. Corel has been involved in sponsoring Jimmy Connors' Champions Tour. Nokia, a Finnish electronics company, "also reportedly is interested in sponsoring the tour." The WTA is reviewing Corel's offer. The return of Monica Seles and her rivalry with Steffi Graf is seen as a big reason for the companies' interest in the tour (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 9/10). In Tampa, H.A. Branham called Saturday "a very good day for women's tennis" with news of a possible sponsorship deal and the Seles-Graf final (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 9/10). TV TIME: In New York, George Vecsey criticizes CBS and the USTA for holding the women's final in between the mens' semi- finals on Saturday, instead of giving them a day of their own. Vecsey: "It is disrespectful to stick the women's finals at some undetermined time between two men's semi-finals. ... Maybe [Graf- Seles] will force CBS and their lackeys at the Open to do the right thing next year and give the women their own day" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/9). In L.A., Mike Penner asks, "Who was the biggest winner at the Flushing Meadow Saturday? ... How about Nike" (L.A. TIMES, 9/10). RIVALRY HOT? MAYBE NOT: While the media trumpeted the Seles-Graf meeting, the Agassi-Sampras final was met with less enthusiasm. In Baltimore, John Eisenberg writes that Agassi- Sampras "isn't a great rivalry, at least not yet. And maybe never. .. The tennis poobahs want it. Nike wants it" (Baltimore SUN, 9/11). In Washington, Michael Wilbon calls the men's final a "dispassionate finish." Wilbon: "Championship tennis? Yes. Riveting? Not quite. ... Isn't a rivalry supposed to generate some emotional response? ... Heck, Agassi and Sampras make commercials together for Nike" (WASHINGTON POST, 9/11). In Minneapolis, Patrick Reusse writes, "No one has pushed the Sampras-Agassi angle harder than Nike" -- with the company's "influence" one of the key changes in the game since Bjorn Borg retired in '81 (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 9/11). In New York, Filip Bondy adds, "[They] slug tennis balls at each other for more than two hours, then head off the court toward their next endorsements" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 9/11). Nike "couldn't have had a more perfect day if it had arranged it itself," writes Tom Knott of the WASHINGTON TIMES. "Then again, perhaps Nike did arrange it all" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 9/11). DETROIT FREE PRESS' Mitch Albom: "They had Agassi, Sampras, Seles, Deion, Cal. I mean, nobody had a better week in sports than Nike" ("Sports Reporters," ESPN, 9/10). OPEN NEWS & NOTES: Sunday's crowd of 19,950 pushed the two- week total for the tournament to 504,806 (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 9/11)....Ratings for CBS' "Super Saturday" were up. From 11:00am-5:15pm, CBS had a 5.1/14 -- up 46% from last year. For the Becker-Agassi semifinal from 5:15-8:15, they received a 6.8/15 -- up 58% (L.A. TIMES, 9/11). ....The ATP Tour and the four major Grand Slam tournaments announced a multi-year deal changing the points awarded for majors and the ATP Tour's "Super 9" events. Majors will be worth twice as much as Super 9 events, provided they have twice as much prize money (TENNIS WEEKLY)....Workers at Chipman-Union, Inc. in GA, sent a letter to Adidas endorser Steffi Graf, asking her to end her affliation with the company. They held a demonstration outside the Open on Friday. Union members say the company, that makes Adidas socks, has been fined for health and safety violations, and has "been charged with race discrimination and sexual harassment" (Minneapolis STAR-TRIBUNE, 9/9)....The booth for the Arthur Ashe Endowment for the Defeat of AIDS was brought inside the main gate of the National Tennis Center after it had been moved to the boardwalk at the start of the tournament. The media "hammered" the original move, but the USTA denied it had "anything to do with shortchanging a non-profit organization in favor of well- heeled corporate customers" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 9/9). NEWSDAY's John Jeansonne give the USTA's an "ace" for the move back (NEWSDAY, 9/10).