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Volume 24 No. 160

Leagues and Governing Bodies

NFL and NFLPA reps resume mediation today in Minneapolis for the "first time since negotiations broke down March 11" in DC, according to Bob Glauber of NEWSDAY. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith are "expected to be among the participants" at today's mediation, ordered by U.S. District Judge Susan Nelson. It will be the "first contact" between Goodell and Smith "since talks collapsed last month." By waiting "at least several days to decide" about the players' motion for a preliminary injunction to lift the lockout, Nelson "seemed anxious to bring the sides together in mediation, although it's still no guarantee that the labor problems will be resolved" (NEWSDAY, 4/14). In N.Y., Bart Hubbuch notes despite "all the headliners involved in the new round of mediation," sources on both sides yesterday said that they "continue to doubt the talks would produce a settlement to the antitrust lawsuit." Today's mediation "also will feature a group of retired players" led by Carl Eller that also has filed suit against the league (N.Y. POST, 4/14). NFL Network's Albert Breer reported that four owners will attend today's mediation: the Panthers' Jerry Richardson, Patriots' Robert Kraft, Chiefs' Clark Hunt and Steelers' Art Rooney II. Falcons President Rich McKay also is in attendance (, 4/14). Giants President & CEO John Mara, one of the most active owners during the first round of mediation, confirmed yesterday that he still is serving jury duty "and will not be attending" today's session (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 4/14).

PROCEED WITH CAUTION: ESPN's Adam Schefter reported the hope is that this round of mediation "has some teeth that the last round of mediation in Washington, DC, that lasted three weeks did not have." Schefter: "Both sides are hopeful that something more will come out of it. The NFL repeatedly has said they wanted to get back to talking. Well, they now have their chance. ... Both sides have to want to do a deal, and that was not like the case the last time because most people feel like the NFL was determined to lockout the players and most people feel like the NFLPA was determined to go through litigation rather than negotiation" ("NFL Live," ESPN, 4/13). However, YAHOO SPORTS' Jason Cole wrote NFL owners are "in a much more precarious situation than ever before as the clock ticks toward Nelson having to render a decision." It is "strongly believed that the NFL is going to face having an injunction placed against its lockout." Then the league "will have to hope it can get help from the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, first with a stay of the injunction and then with a reversal of Nelson’s decision." Another federal judge said, "Based on my understanding of the case, it would be prudent of the league to move forward aggressively in mediation." Cole noted "any attempt by the league to prolong the process and gain leverage over the players by simply not negotiating in good faith will be viewed dimly at all levels of the judicial system" (, 4/13).

IN THE LINE OF FIRE: SI's Andrew Lawrence notes NFL Draft prospect LB Von Miller, a plaintiff in the Brady v. NFL antitrust case, is "standing for all prospective 2011 draft picks who, the lawsuit asserts, will be harmed by the lockout and by restrictions on rookie wages." Miller's MVP performance in January's Senior Bowl "got him on the NFLPA's radar." He said that he met with Jets RB LaDainian Tomlinson at Super Bowl XLV, and Tomlinson "persuaded him to sign on to the suit when it was filed in March." Lawrence notes Miller "joining the legal action is less about taking a stand on principle than receiving a seal of approval from his future colleagues." Miller: "The PA could've picked any rookie coming out this year. It's a blessing that fell into my lap." Still, he "prefers to keep quiet about the suit and his role in it." He will not "articulate his position in the labor debate beyond stating his desire to play NFL football in 2011" (SI, 4/18 issue).

NFL wants to cut $300M from first-round
picks and divert to veterans' salaries, benefits
TIME TO EARN YOUR KEEP? The AP's Barry Wilner reported the NFL "wants to cut almost 60% of guaranteed pay for first-round draft picks, lock them in for five years and divert the savings to veterans' salaries and benefits." NFL teams awarded more than $525M in guaranteed money to first-round picks in '10, and documents reveal that the league "wants to decrease that figure" by $300M. The NFL's offer "would free a total of more than $1.2 billion over four years through 2015 -- $37.5 million per team overall -- and slow the growth rate of guaranteed payments to first-rounders." During talks for a new CBA, the league also "proposed eliminating holdouts by reducing the maximum allowable salary if a rookie isn't signed when training camp begins." The NFL also suggested "eliminating holdouts for all veterans by prohibiting renegotiations of contracts if a player holds out in the preseason." The proposed compensation system "would not include a rookie wage scale and would allow for individual contract negotiations." The league said that contracts "would have a fixed length of four years for players chosen in the second through seventh rounds and would not affect salaries for those rounds" (AP, 4/13). In Chicago, Sean Jensen writes rookie compensation is one issue in CBA talks that "shouldn't take much discussion." The "system is broke, and the owners and players need to fix it." Jensen: "The NBA has an assortment of problems, but its rookie wage scale makes sense: Outstanding college players selected high are compensated handsomely, but they won’t cash monster paychecks until they prove themselves as professionals" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 4/14).

YOU'VE GOT QUESTIONS ... In Boston, Ian Rapoport notes Patriots OT Matt Light and SI's Peter King on April 26 will host a lockout-themed breakfast for charity at Boston's Liberty Hotel. The "Matt Light and Peter King Lockout Breakfast: Inside the CBA, Free Agency, and the 2011 NFL Draft" will include a few other NFL players and host 100 guests. The group will "discuss the lockout, free agency, the draft and anything else that comes to mind" during the two-hour breakfast. Admission is $250, and proceeds will go to the Matt Light Foundation. Light said, "I turned to people who’ve been doing this a long time, like Peter, who is a great resource and gracious enough to lend his time to help raise money for the foundation. So why not kill two birds with one stone? Raise some money and answer questions" (BOSTON HERALD, 4/14).

NFL players "from at least 16 teams have already sought out extremely aggressive short-term loans with high interest rates" as the NFL lockout enters its second month, according to sources cited by Rand Getlin of A financing source said that the interest rates range from 18-24%, "and upon default, they can rise as high as" 36%. The NFLPA last month announced that it "would begin payouts" from its lockout fund. But while that "lifeline was created in part to keep opportunistic lenders at bay, the finances offered by the NFLPA -- as much as $60,000 for some players -- won't solve all financial ills," and "much to the chagrin of some members of the union, the high-risk loan market has begun to attract players." Getlin noted "much was made of the NFLPA's preparation for the current lockout, which focused on raising players' financial awareness and surviving a months-long battle with no paychecks in sight." But a financial adviser said that it is "becoming clear many players didn't follow the union's advice." The adviser added that he believes as many as 10% of the "nearly 1,800 players in the league have secured some form of lending at this point," and he estimated that at least another 20% are "in the process of securing lending now" (, 4/12). In West Palm Beach, Ben Volin wrote, "How can players ALREADY be seeking loans? ... For a significant number of players to already be taking out a high-interest loan shows how many athletes live above their means and don't get meaningful financial guidance" (, 4/13).

GREATER GOOD: In Ft. Worth, Clarence Hill Jr. reports Cowboys LB DeMarcus Ware is "not accepting any money" from the NFLPA's lockout fund. Ware: "We have $60,000 that is supposed to be paid to us. I gave my money back to help out other guys that don't have as much money. That is going to help out and bring us closer together." Hill notes players who were "on a roster every week for the past two years will receive $60,000," while players "with less roster time will receive less" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 4/14). 

With the "upgraded concern over an impending NBA lockout, there will be no larger beneficiary than college hoops," according to Jeff Goodman of Ohio State F Jared Sullinger "wasted no time after the Buckeyes were knocked out of the NCAA tournament when he told reporters he was coming back to school despite the near certainty he would be a lottery pick." North Carolina Fs John Henson and Tyler Zeller also are returning despite the fact that both "were considered surefire first-round picks in June's NBA Draft, with Henson a likely lottery guy." But the "shocker came Monday afternoon when Baylor's prized freshman, Perry Jones III, a potential No. 1 overall pick, made the announcement that he wasn't going anywhere." Jones said that the lockout "wasn't an overriding factor in his decision but that it did play a part in his decision." Both Sullinger and Jones also maintained that a "potential NBA work stoppage didn't play an integral role in their decision," but "it is a factor." Butler G Shelvin Mack Tuesday announced that he is "declaring for the draft but wouldn't sign with an agent," allowing him to maintain his college eligibility, and he said that the lockout was a factor in his decision. Mack: "I'm like a late first-rounder or a second-rounder, and if I stay in and go in the second round, it'll be tough because there probably won't be workouts for me to make the team." But Goodman wrote "another year of school isn't for everyone." Duke G Kyrie Irving and Kansas Fs Markieff and Marcus Morris "weren't scared off by the lockout," as they all have declared for the draft. Players like Mack, "who have been told they are on the fringe of being taken in the first round, also have to process the fact this is considered a lackluster draft this year" (, 4/13).

CAMPUS SECURITY: ESPN's Chad Ford said some players have returned to college because "one of the fears was that there was going to be a lockout that was going to last the entire season." Ford: "For a player who needs to get better in a lot of fundamentally different ways, going back to college seems a little more enticing if you think you're going to be sitting out the season. I do think there's that fear." But he added, "For those high picks, it's a bit of an irrational fear. Their agents are going to give them plenty of money via loans and endorsements and other things to last them." Ford said it is "shaping up to be" a lackluster draft class this year. He added, "If the league gets what they want, which is a new draft age rule that restricts college players from declaring until they've been two years in college, and that's what they would like to get at the next collective bargaining agreement, the 2012 Draft could be devastating as well" ("The Scott Van Pelt Show," ESPN2, 4/12). UCLA coach Ben Howland said, "I feel bad because I think it's a really tough time for these kids to be coming out. From the standpoint of the lockout looming -- how that affects the draft, how that affects your ability to position yourself for a team you're drafted by." Kentucky coach John Calipari said, "The lockout ... it's real. This isn't fake. If there's going to be a long lockout, now it's, 'Why would I do this?'" (SPORTING NEWS TODAY, 4/14).

FEARING THE WORST: The NBA has denied a report that the Las Vegas Summer League, scheduled for early July, has already been canceled due to a possible lockout, but ESPN's Bomani Jones said he is "more afraid than ever that we won't have an NBA season" next year. Jones: "While people talk about the NFL being greedy, the NBA has a chance to really catapult itself into the sports landscape and they might throw it all away because they want to kill the union." Dallas Morning News columnist Tim Cowlishaw said NBA fans "need to realize that this lockout and that situation is going to be serious" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 4/13).

MLB tomorrow will commemorate the 64th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking baseball's color line with a wide collection of initiatives encompassing on-field events, community functions, and TV and online extensions. Every player in the league tomorrow will again wear Robinson's No. 42, the third consecutive year that has been done. A new website,, will debut for Jackie Robinson Day, featuring in part videos from 64 current and former MLB players discussing the legacy and impact of the late HOFer, with the number 64 specifically chosen to tie into the current anniversary number. Players participating in that effort include fellow HOFers Andre Dawson, Lou Brock and Ernie Banks, Yankees Ps CC Sabathia and Mariano Rivera and Mets 3B David Wright. MLB Network Saturday will air a new MLB Productions special, "Letters From Jackie: The Private Thoughts of Jackie Robinson," featuring personal letters he sent during his lifetime, including ones to Branch Rickey and Martin Luther King Jr. Though Jackie Robinson Day commemorations will be held tomorrow in every MLB ballpark, the hub of the in-venue events will be at Yankee Stadium, where Robinson's widow, Rachel, will appear along with a group of Tuskegee Airmen. Before the Rangers-Yankees game, Robinson and MLB execs will also appear in Newark for a ceremony for that city's Reviving Baseball In Inner Cities (RBI) program, as well as at another event in Brooklyn for the league's Breaking Barriers youth essay contest.

PowerPlay Golf yesterday announced the first stage of its strategy to roll out a new format designed to invigorate the sport. PowerPlay Golf is played over nine holes, with two flags on every green, and golfers can use a limited number of "PowerPlays" to score extra points when aiming at the harder black flag. PowerPlay Golf: Ignition, scheduled to take place at the Celtic Manor Resort in Wales on May 30, will be the first of a series of three golf tournaments to be broadcast live worldwide this year. The event, sponsored by Saab, will boast a field of 12 golfers including World Golf HOFer Gary Player and current golfers such as Graeme McDowell, Paul Casey, Ian Poulter, John Daly, Ian Woosnam, Paula Creamer and Helen Alfredsson (PowerPlay Golf). REUTERS' Tom Pilcher reported the new format, in which top male and female golfers are "competing against each other for the first time," aims to "make the game more exciting and attract younger golfers." PowerPlay Golf will hold its first U.S. event "later this year." The lineup for the new tour, which "will include Ryder Cup players and current major champions, will be announced in the next few days." Players "will compete for a total prize fund of $560,000, including $161,000 for the winner." Seven tournaments are "expected to be held in 2012." Former European Tour Exec Dir Ken Schofield has been appointed as PPG Chair (REUTERS, 4/13).