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Volume 24 No. 112

Leagues Governing Bodies

     After being on the opposite sides of the NBA's labor
dispute, NBPA VP Charles Smith and decertification leader Patrick
Ewing talked out their differences before starting another season
as Knicks teammates.  Smith:  "Now that we're back together, I
think we both realize that we're better in shorts and sneakers
than we are in suits and ties."  Smith, rumored to be stepping
down as union VP now wants to succeed Buck Williams as NBPA
President (N.Y. TIMES, 10/7).
     BUCK STOPS HERE?  Williams, on the criticism he endured
during the dispute:  "It made me a better person and strengthened
my character.  I got experience and developed a sense of humor."
Williams also said he is severing his ties with agent David Falk,
who helped lead the decertification movement.  Williams:  "I have
one foot out the door, and I'm trying to get the other foot out."
Williams is in the final year of his Blazers contract and does
not know if he will return for next season (AP/SALT LAKE TRIBUNE,
10/9).
     BACK IN THE FOLD:  Interviewed on the set of Michael
Jordan's new movie, "Space Jam," Jordan and Patrick Ewing were
asked by CBS' Pat O'Brien whether other NBA players understand
their position.  Ewing:  "We hope so.  If they don't, so be it.
All we were trying to do was fight for everybody else. ... They
will see in a couple of years when people will be getting cut
because there is no room in the salary cap to sign them, and then
they will realize."  Jordan:  "From the public standpoint, you
know we have an easy job already.  But it is a business, a major,
major business.  We were trying to make the best business
decision for a lot of the players, and they made their choice at
the end and I live with that" ("CBS Sports Show," 10/7).
     MORE LABOR WOES:  The NBA and its locked-out referees return
to the bargaining table this week.  Mike Mathis, the refs' lead
negotiator:  "We're willing and wanting to talk and get back to
work."  The NBA has offered a five-year deal with raises
averaging 6% a year (USA TODAY, 10/10).  Fred

     The NFL has signed Nike to a five-year licensing deal
estimated at $200M, only one month after the league took aim at
Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones' signing of Nike as sponsor of Texas
Stadium.  According to Richard Sandomir of the N.Y. TIMES, the
NFL has been trying to make a deal with Nike "for several
months," but was "derailed" by Jones.  Sandomir reports,
"Although NFL Properties got Nike back to the negotiating table,
its deal with Nike might have been larger if not for Jones."
Nike now becomes an NFL Pro Line licensee allowing them to supply
uniforms and apparel for coaches and sideline personnel, as well
as to sell Pro Line apparel in retail outlets.  Nike will also
buy air time on NFL network broadcasts and work with the league
on developing youth programs.  NFL Properties President Sara
Levinson said the Nike deal does not change their legal position
and that their $300M lawsuit against Jones over his Nike and
Pepsi deals will continue (N.Y. TIMES, 10/9).  On NBC's pregame
show, Will McDonough reported that the NFL-Nike deal could have
been announced three months ago and for more money, "but Jerry
screwed it up" ("NFL on NBC," 10/8).  An NFL release refers to
the Nike agreement as "the largest deal in the history of team
sports licensing" (NFL).
     TIRED OF TALKING:  In his Sunday BOSTON GLOBE column,
McDonough reports that Jones will file an antitrust lawsuit
against the league.  Jones:  "I've had my fill of talking and
getting nothing resolved."  Jones said after making his arguments
before the NFL owners' special committee, "they know now, and
acknowledge, that I did not break any rules."  Jones added --
with the Jaguars' Wayne Weaver in mind -- "I hope that some of
the owners who took this action against me weren't doing the same
things that I have done.  Wayne was one of the guys that voted to
sue.  He may be more guilty of [violating NFL Properties
agreements] than anything I have ever done.  He might have a hard
time trying to explain his actions in court.  Our suit will get
to the core of the issue.  It will be antitrust" (BOSTON GLOBE,
10/9).
     WARRING PARTNERS:  Jones joins Raiders Owner Al Davis with a
lawsuit pending against the league.  49ers President Carmen
Policy:  "Let's get on with it.  Let's get to court once and for
all and find out what the deal is.  These guys only care about
themselves."  Bills Owner Ralph Wilson:  "These owners are going
to tear our league apart.  We get a great labor agreement.  We
get a great television deal.  Everything should be great, and our
own partners are suing us.  Well, before they know it, these $200
million franchises will be worth $50 million in a hurry because
of their actions" (Will McDonough, BOSTON GLOBE, 10/9). Patriots
CEO Bob Kraft, interviewed during halftime of TNT's coverage of
the Patriots/Broncos:  "Jerry is one of the smartest marketing
and sales people I know, but sometimes his style can be something
that is abrasive to other people.  But his ideas are great.  This
is 1995, the year of the internet, we're coming into the
millennium, and I think we have to look at different ways of
marketing our product."  Kraft on a possible Jones countersuit:
"I really hope that we can settle this in the family -- and I
believe that we will do that. ... We have the best
sports/entertainment product in America, TNT knows that, and we
have to make sure we don't do anything to damage that" ("NFL on
TNT," 10/8).
     AMEX DEAL:  As expected, Jones announced another deal
outside of NFL Properties, making AmEx "the official charge and
credit card" of Texas Stadium and the only card accepted for
Cowboys season-ticket purchases (Greg Clarkin, N.Y. POST, 10/7).
Visa is the official credit card of the NFL.

     "Baseball's image is on the mend," according to a CNN/ USA
TODAY/GALLUP poll conducted during the divisional playoffs last
week (October 5-7).  Fans were asked to compare their present
interest in the game with last year:  47% said they were "as
interested" (up from 30% in April), and the number of those
responding "less interested" fell from 69% in April to 51%.  Fan
opposition to the new playoff system seems to be "dying down as
well."  From the October survey:  26% in favor, 19% opposed, 53%
doesn't matter.  From May:  26% in favor, 33% opposed, 40%
doesn't matter.  On MLB's broadcast schedule, 36% were opposed,
compared to 58% in May.  While the number in favor didn't change
much (up one point to 13%), those who said it "does not matter
much" increased from 29% to 49% (USA TODAY, 10/9).
     TALKIN' BASEBALL:  With the first-ever round of divisional
playoffs now complete and the LCS to begin tonight, the baseball
media offers mostly positive reviews of the new system.  In
Baltimore, Buster Olney writes, "Well, the purists, including
this one, were wrong: the first divisional playoffs have been a
rousing success" (Baltimore SUN, 10/8).  In DC, Tom Boswell
writes, "When it comes to first courses, baseball most certainly
served up a gourmet treat last week" (WASHINGTON POST, 10/10).
In Tampa, Bill Chastain writes, "Save for a few stupid TV tricks
and the need for some fine tuning, baseball's expanded playoffs
look like a winner from this view" (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 10/9).  In Ft.
Worth, Roger Brown writes, "For all of those traditionalists
knocking the new wild-card format, baseball came back with a
strong answer -- exciting and pulsating games that went right
down to the wire" (FT. WORTH STAR TELEGRAM, 10/10).  In L.A.,
Ross Newhan writes, "The best way to put it, perhaps, is that
baseball overcame business" (L.A. TIMES, 10/10).  On ABC's "World
News Tonight," Dick Schapp reported that "October Fever" has
brought fans back.  Columnist Bill Conlin:  "Good games are the
fuel that drives the engine of baseball" (ABC, 10/9).
     NOT ALL GOOD NEWS:  A piece on baseball in this week's
BUSINESS WEEK by David Greising and Stephen Baker is entitled,
"The Bozos of October: It's a Tough Job, but the Owners Are
Making Fans Even Angrier" (BUSINESS WEEK, 10/16). An editorial in
Monday's USA TODAY focuses on the problems with the regional
broadcasts:  "The mistake was putting networks' needs above fan
interest, when fan interest is essential to the game's health"
(USA TODAY, 10/10).  And in L.A., Jim Murray writes, "Expediency
counts over morality, and television counts over all" (L.A.
TIMES, 10/8).