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Volume 24 No. 112

People and Pop Culture

Though not specifically referencing the "drug testing controversy that has enveloped him for most of the off-season, RYAN BRAUN did not ignore it as many expected when accepting" his NL MVP award Saturday night, according to Tom Haudricourt of the MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL. Braun talked about "facing 'adversity' and 'challenge' during his speech at the annual" BBWAA awards banquet in N.Y. He said, "Sometimes in life we all deal with challenges we never expected to endure." Haudricourt noted it was a "heartfelt speech delivered under the toughest of circumstances, coming after a two-day arbitration hearing before a three-man panel" that concluded Friday. That panel has "25 days to render a verdict but could do so at any time before that deadline." The Brewers have been "kept in the dark during the supposedly confidential process, learning of developments only as they were reported." No front office member "had spoken to Braun since the report of the positive test until a private reception before the banquet." Haudricourt noted after being introduced at the ceremony, Braun was "greeted by applause from the packed ballroom." Braun is "still scheduled to attend the Brewers' 'On Deck' fan festival next Sunday in downtown Milwaukee" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 1/22). In L.A., Chuck Schilken noted while Braun "never specifically mentioned his positive drug test" during his acceptance speech, there is "no doubt everyone in the crowd of around 800 knew exactly what the Milwaukee Brewers left fielder was talking about" (, 1/21). Braun in his acceptance speech said, "I also wanted to take a moment to thank the players association for supporting me throughout my career and especially for supporting me through everything I went through over the last couple of months. Thank you, guys. ... I've always loved and had so much respect for the game of baseball. Everything I've done in my career has been done with that respect and appreciation in mind" (, 1/21). In N.Y., Dan Martin wrote it is "not a good sign when an MVP thanks the Players Association in his speech, but Braun is not in a normal situation" (N.Y. POST, 1/22).

MLS CMO RUSS FINDLAY is “out after less than a year.” Findlay was the first person to hold the CMO position at the league. Former MSG Exec VP/Marketing HOWARD HANDLER, “who has been consulting with the league for several months, is handling marketing matters and is operating as the league’s de facto CMO.” Whether Handler “takes the CMO title officially won’t be known until an examination of the league's marketing plan” (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 1/23 issue).

BOILING OVER: Purdue has hired Atlanta-based Collegiate Consulting to handle the school’s ticket sales and service. Collegiate Consulting has agreed to hire a staff of four to assist the Boilermakers with outbound ticket sales and marketing. Purdue AD MORGAN BURKE said he was seeking a broader reach and and a greater ability to enhance ticket revenues and attendance. The agency, spearheaded by Managing Dir RUSSELL WRIGHT, will focus on season-ticket revenue for football, men’s and women’s basketball, and baseball, as well as single-game tickets for other events (Michael Smith, SportsBusiness Journal).

EXECS: The USTA named D.A. ABRAMS Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer (USTA)….Ilitch Holdings Inc. named CARLY STRACHAN Communications Manager (Ilitch Holdings)….Int’l Rugby Board Chief Exec MIKE MILLER is stepping down after 10 years. Miller, who also served as Rugby World Cup Limited Managing Dir, “will step down from both roles at the end of January” (REUTERS, 1/20)….Ball State Univ. AD TOM COLLINS will leave the school at the end of his current contract, which ends on June 30 (BSU)….Northern Michigan Univ. AD KEN GODFREY is stepping down from the position, but will remain as Special Assistant to the President. Godfrey was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in the fall of ’10 and has been on medical leave since that time (NMU). Specialized Bicycle named KIRK RICHARDSON GM for the U.S. market. Richardson was most recently Columbia Sportswear GM/Footwear. He worked at Nike from ’79-’06 (, 1/20)....Outside Television named Game Show Network Senior VP DENNIS GILLESPIE Senior VP/Distribution (THE DAILY).

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In N.Y., Mark Cannizzaro wrote Patriots Owner ROBERT KRAFT has built "one of the most remarkable turnarounds in sports," and it has all been "made possible by the product he has put on the football field." When Kraft's wife, MYRA, died in July, Kraft "began the 'Myra Kraft Giving Back Fund,' which gives scholarship money to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston." Kraft said that in the six months since Myra's passing, "more than $4 million has been contributed by 'mostly people I don't even know'" (N.Y. POST, 1/22). Meanwhile, in Boston, Michael Whitmer noted when he was considering hiring head coach BILL BELICHICK -- "which ultimately happened on Jan. 27, 2000 --- Kraft said he received phone calls from network television heads suggesting that the frequently dour, occasionally irascible coach might not be the best choice." Clips of Belichick "news conferences also were sent Kraft’s way." But Kraft said, "The key to life, whether it’s the partner you pick or the business you run, is that you try to see things that other people can’t see. We’re privileged to have him’’ (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/22). Following the Patriots' win over the Ravens in yesterday's AFC Championship game, Kraft "took a congratulatory phone call from longtime friend Sir ELTON JOHN, while speaking to the media postgame" (BOSTON HERALD, 1/23).

MEDIA MAVERICK: In N.Y., Amy Chozick profiles News Corp. Deputy Chair, President & COO CHASE CAREY and notes never in the company's history has an exec other than Chair & CEO RUPERT MURDOCH "taken such a major role in running the daily operations." Carey "leads earnings calls, speaks at investor conferences and strategizes on everything, including retransmission fees with cable and satellite companies." BTIG analyst RICHARD GREENFIELD said, "He's increasingly becoming the face of the company." Chozick notes Murdoch in '93 bet Carey $20 that the net "could not capture" NFL TV rights. Carey put together a $1.56B deal that "beat out CBS and put Fox on the map." Murdoch "paid up on his $20 bet" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/23). 

DIVIDING ASSETS: In L.A., Michael Reicher reported Lakers G KOBE BRYANT's divorce from wife VANESSA "has not been finalized, but Orange County property records show the couple is beginning to distribute their assets." Three mansions in Newport Beach's "upscale Newport Coast community have recently been placed in Vanessa Bryant's name." The property records indicate that the homes "have a total value" of $18.8M (, 1/21). Meanwhile, Kobe Bryant appeared on a recent episode of ABC's "EXTREME MAKEOVER HOME EDITION," as part of "rebuilding efforts in connection to a tornado that swept through" Joplin, Mo. Bryant appeared in early October at UC Irvine's Bren Events Center, which "organized a clothing drive for the tornado victims" (, 1/21).

NAMES: Disney CEO ROBERT IGER "received compensation valued at $31.4 million" for '11 and his compensation "rose 11.9% over his package for the year prior, valued at $28 million" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 1/21)....Officials for Chicago Mayor RAHM EMANUEL announced yesterday that WMG VP/Basketball Management B.J. ARMSTRONG has been named to the Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners. Armstrong is a former NBAer and currently serves as Bulls G DERRICK ROSE's agent (, 1/22)....An arbitration panel ruled in favor of former MLBer DOUG MIRABELLI in his dispute with Bank of America Merrill Lynch's financial adviser PHIL SCOTT. The panel awarded Mirabelli and his wife, KRISTIN, "more than $1.2 million in damages and fees." The decision was the "second defeat" for Scott in the last 12 months (, 1/22)....The Maple Leafs yesterday hosted 800 kids and parents for their 34th annual Skate for Easter Seals Kids (TORONTO STAR, 1/23)....Nike endorser SPIKE LEE gave President BARACK OBAMA a pair of Air Jordan sneakers that will “come out in February under the ‘Bordeaux’ title.” The shoes will be priced at $175 a pair and will feature Spike’s "40 Acres and a Mule" logo (, 1/20)…Longtime Nike shoe designer D’WAYNE EDWARDS is “preparing to open a footwear design school” in downtown Portland. Edwards will open “Pensole Footwear Design Academy” on Feb. 4 (Portland OREGONIAN, 1/21)….Bears QB JAY CUTLER and his fiancée, KRISTIN CAVALLARI, are expecting their first child (, 1/22).