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Volume 24 No. 156

Leagues Governing Bodies

     The NBA met with representatives of its locked-out referees
association for more than three hours yesterday, but "little
progress was made" toward reaching a new CBA. Jeffrey Miskin, the
NBA's Senior VP/Legal and Business Affairs and league negotiator,
said the two sides "remain very far apart on the economic
issues."  No new meetings were announced (HOUSTON CHRONICLE,
10/13). As the exhibition season began, replacement referees were
used.  In Houston, Eddie Sefko writes the "backup players" used
during the Rockets/Spurs games were "a lot better than the backup
referees."  Sefko: "Judging by the preseason opener, the league
ought to up their offer or some coaches and more than a few
players are going to go nuts."  Longtime veteran Charles Jones:
"They didn't have a clue. ... I think the league ought to lock
these guys out, too" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 10/13).
     GOOD DEAL? SI's "Scorecard" notes the effect the new rookie
salary cap is having on contract negotiations: "No whining. No
griping. No shouted ultimatums. Can the NBA season be approaching
this quietly?"  Last year at this time four of the top 10 NBA
draft picks were still unsigned and 11 of the 27 overall were
holding out.  This year with the wage scale, all 29 first round
picks are signed. By "giving headstrong rookies and tightfisted
owners little to argue about, the NBA has administered a giant
aspirin to an annual headache" ("Scorecard," SPORTS ILLUSTRATED,
10/16 issue).

     Jerry Jones struck back at the NFL's declaration that the
Cowboys violated the NFL's salary cap with Deion Sanders'
contract, claiming that the league responded "maliciously,
carrying their marketing conflict into this dispute."  Ed Werder
writes in this morning's DALLAS MORNING NEWS that Jones vowed
that the NFL's rejection will be "tenaciously challenged."
Jones: "This is not about Deion Sanders' contract.  This is about
sticking it to the Dallas Cowboys."  Werder reports that Jones
"has declined compromise offers" from the league and will contest
the league's ruling "with the highest possible authorities."  The
NFLPA will represent Sanders and the Cowboys in a two-step
process for Jones' appeal.  The two sides will first have a
hearing before an arbitrator known as the "NFL special master."
Werder reports that the loser can appeal to U.S. District Court
Judge David Doty, who supervised the implementation of the
league's CBA.  Sanders' deal pays him $37.1M, with a $12.99M
signing bonus.  His salary is at the  league minimum of $178,000
over the first three seasons.  Although Sanders will average $5M
a season over seven years, his salary counts for only $2.035M
under the cap for the first three seasons (DALLAS MORNING NEWS,
10/13).
     JONES GETS AN ALLY:  In this morning's N.Y. TIMES, Allan
Myerson reports that the NFLPA has joined Jones' side "raising
the prospect of a broader battle with owners over the huge salary
packages demanded by the game's superstars." NFLPA General
Counsel Richard Berthelsen: "It's our view that the league has no
leg to stand on" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/13).
     AND IF JONES CAN'T WIN WITH THE FORCE?  An unfavorable
ruling for the Cowboys would limit their free-agent spending and
could force them to cut players "if an edict comes before the end
of the season," according to Kevin Lyons in this morning's FT.
WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM.  Jones added that he hopes the league's
objections won't affect "the Cowboys' future regarding such
things as the Thanksgiving Day game, scheduling and appearances
on national television" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 10/13).
     REAX:  On last night's TNT coverage of the Rams-Falcons game
Kevin Kiley noted that "every deal Jerry Jones does now, he puts
under a microscope ... I doubt that he broke the rules"  ("TNT
Wrap Up," 10/12).  ESPN's Keith Olbermann: "If we need a new
national soap opera to replace the State versus O.J., we may have
found it - the NFL versus Jerry Jones" ("SportsCenter," 10/12).
In Fort Worth, Gil Lebreton writes, "Jones is dead right on this
one. ... If league owners were so suspicious of teams
circumventing the salary cap, where were they last season, when
San Francisco circumvented its way to the Super Bowl?" (FT. WORTH
STAR-TELEGRAM, 10/13).  "The Empire strikes back," writes MORNING
NEWS Columnist Frank Luksa, who notes that "Jones lacks support
and a sponsor" within the NFL's "power structure."  (DALLAS
MORNING NEWS, 10/13).  "Fox NFL Sunday" will feature an interview
with Jones by James Brown (Fox)