Domonique Foxworth, the youngest player to be elected NFLPA VP, was nominated without opposition and elected unanimously as NFLPA President at the union's annual meeting yesterday. Foxworth, a free agent CB, was first elected to the NFLPA as a player rep for the Broncos in ‘07, before being elected to the Exec Committee in ‘08. He is seen as a very smart player who is a supporter of NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith. Foxworth was part of the exec committee that oversaw the election process after former NFLPA Exec Dir Gene Upshaw died unexpectedly in ‘08. Foxworth replaces Kevin Mawae, who has been player president since ‘08 but was not eligible to run for the seat again because he retired from playing. “One of the most important things I learned from Kevin is about responsibility,” Foxworth said to the NFLPA members, according to a statement released by the union. "The NFLPA is our organization. There is a wealth of experience and talent in this room, and I will reach out to each and every one of you about your interests and passions. If we work as hard as we did during the lockout now in peacetime, we will be the strongest organization in the world.” Like Foxworth, Smith was unopposed and elected unanimously on Thursday by the about 60 player representatives who were attending the NFLPA's annual meetings on Marco Island, Fla. Former NFLers are scheduled to hold a joint meeting with active NFL players today. In addition to Foxworth, Titans QB Matt Hasselbeck, Patriots OT Matt Light, Jets RG Brandon Moore and Browns TE Ben Watson were elected to the NFLPA's Exec Committee. They replace Mike Vrabel, Tony Richardson, Sean Morey and Mawae, all who were not eligible to run because they have retired. The meetings end today (Liz Mullen, SportsBusiness Journal). ESPN.com’s Jamison Hensley wrote Foxworth is “smart and outspoken,” and he is a “strong leader who played a key role in the negotiations that ended last year's lockout.” He reportedly “beat out Jeff Saturday to become the new president.” Foxworth, who was “cut by the Ravens this offseason, is expected to retire.” He has only played “two games in the past two seasons because of a right knee injury” (ESPN.com, 3/25).
Leagues and Governing Bodies
The NFL's annual meetings fully kicks off this morning in Palm Beach, Fla., with player safety and tweaks to some of the game’s rules and injured reserve policies topping the agenda. Former President Bill Clinton spoke last night to owners for about 90 minutes, though he was late appearing. He spoke about his charitable foundation, and how the league can be a bridge between business and government on the issue of childhood obesity, said Lions President Tom Lewand. The NFL’s Play 60 initiative seeks to make children physically active. Lewand said his 8-year-old daughter asked the president how his foundation chooses which projects to fund. Clinton also spoke positively about the state of the economy, said a league source. The presentation was off limits to reporters, and no tweeting from inside the room was allowed. The league this week will also discuss whether to allow casino advertising, and the NFL, as is usual at these meetings, will offer owners’ league financial projections. Stadium financing, the U.K. games and technology are also on the agenda. Several proposals are up for vote, including extending the playoff overtime rules to the regular season, and making all replay reviews decided in the booth and not by a field official. The meetings are scheduled to end around noon on Wednesday (Daniel Kaplan, SportsBusiness Journal). In St. Louis, Jim Thomas notes there are also “several proposals to change league bylaws.” One would “move back the trading deadline from the sixth week to the eighth week of the regular season.” Another would expand the training-camp roster “to 90 players instead of the traditional 80-player limit, but with the proviso that any unsigned draft picks count against the 90” (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 3/26). In N.Y., Bart Hubbuch cites a league source as saying that suspended Saints coach Sean Payton and GM Mickey Loomis “plan to attend the meetings in a move that could cause some awkward moments” (N.Y. POST, 3/26).
CAP SPACE: In Boston, Greg Bedard noted as agents “craft contracts for their clients during this free agency period and beyond, they are looking toward” the ’14 cap size as “sort of a pot of gold.” Patriots Owner Robert Kraft “doesn’t see a huge cap bump coming” in ‘14. Kraft said, “I don’t really see that happening. I think there’s going to be a smooth growth. I don’t think what happened in ’06 will happen in the future here.” Bedard noted the cap in ’06 increased 19.3% from $85.5M to $102M as part of the CBA extension. If something similar “doesn’t happen in 2014, players and agents will be upset, and teams that believed the wrong information and back-loaded contracts will be in worse cap shape than they anticipated” (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/25).
INTERNATIONAL BIZ: The NFL has sold the first batch of 60,000 tickets to its annual regular-season U.K. game, said NFL Senior VP/International Chris Parsons. He added that it took about three to four weeks to sell them,. Of the remaining 24,000 tickets at Wembley Stadium, about 19,000 belong to the teams, the NFL, sponsors, and broadcasters, he said. The remaining 5,000 tickets will be put on sale around September. Last year the game did not sell out, the first time that occurred since regular-season games were launched in the U.K. in ‘07, in part because of a long delay in selling them caused by the lockout. Owners at the annual meeting will hear about the ticketing progress, and last year’s broadcast ratings, Parsons said. There will not be a discussion about whether in ‘13 there will be more than one game in the U.K., Parsons said. The owners authorized the league to be able to play more than one game in the U.K. if possible. The ‘12 game is scheduled for October 28 between the Patriots and Rams (Kaplan).
Rafael Nadal resigned from the ATP Player Council shortly before the start of the Sony Ericsson Open last week, sources said. Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic have been on the Council (Federer is president) for several years now, and underscore a degree of top player involvement in a sport that is rare. Djokovic, Nadal and Federer currently are the top-seeded men's players. Nadal has been frustrated that his two signature initiatives were rebuffed. He supported Richard Krajicek last summer to be the next ATP leader, but was rebuffed by Federer and tournament officials when Brad Drewett was elected instead. Nadal also wanted to move to a two-year ranking system from one, but that was also opposed by Federer and tournaments. Nadal's agent, Carlos Costa, could not immediately be reached for comment. The Player Council represented the various ATP player interests, and elects three members of the seven-person ATP Tour board. The tournaments also elect three members, and the CEO, Drewett, is the seventh vote.
Pocono Raceway President Brandon Igdalsky attended yesterday's Izod IndyCar Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg and met with IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard to "discuss the possibility of having a race at the eastern Pennsylvania oval track" in '13, according to Curt Cavin of the INDIANAPOLIS STAR (3/26). The AP's Jenna Fryer noted Bernard Saturday also met with officials from Houston "about running on a temporary street course there next season," but he said that a contract was not signed. Bernard: "We are very much engaged in the 2013 schedule right now, and some of our top objectives and priorities right now [are] continuing to showcase our sport in major markets." Penske Racing team Owner Roger Penske Saturday said that he "supports a stop in Houston and wants the series to focus on North American markets." IndyCar has 14 races scheduled this year "across the U.S. and Canada, and will make stops in Brazil and China." Bernard said that adding Houston to the schedule would "not preclude IndyCar from returning to Texas Motor Speedway in Ft. Worth." TMS is "scheduled to host IndyCar" on June 9 for a 16th consecutive season (AP, 3/24).
EVERYONE'S DAY IN ST. PETE: In Tampa, Jim Tomlin writes IndyCar "finally got a chance to move on" yesterday after the '11 season "ended in the worst way imaginable." Driver Helio Castroneves won his third Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, and he said, "This was just what we needed." Not only did yesterday's race kick off the '12 Izod IndyCar season, but it was also the first IndyCar event since St. Petersburg resident and driver Dan Wheldon died in a crash Oct. 16 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Wheldon's sister, Holly, "dropped the green flag at the start and presented the winner's trophy to Castroneves at the end" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 3/26). ESPN.com's John Oreovicz wrote IndyCar got "exactly what it needed" yesterday, a "clean, competitive race, without any bone-headed driving, contentious officiating or technical calamity." The race "didn't offer much in the way of passing or wheel-to-wheel excitement, but it did show that the series has a solid platform to work with in terms of developing the new Dallara DW12 chassis and turbocharged V-6 engines" (ESPN.com, 3/25). In Tampa, Gary Shelton writes under the header, "IndyCar Drivers, Fans Share Perfect Day At Grand Prix Of St. Petersburg With Dan Wheldon." Shelton: "It was Helio's day, and it was Dan's. It was St. Pete's day, and it was IndyCar's day. ... All of them won Sunday, the drivers and the departed racer." Wheldon's presence was "everywhere, on ribbons, on stickers." Shelton writes, "You could feel him as clearly as you could hear engines roar" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 3/26).
HAPPY WITH THE EVENT: Penske said that he "favors keeping the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg as the series' opener." He said, "Coming to Florida this time of year, it's a good place to be. The whole city has embraced what's going on. To me, that's good." Bernard "praised the city but said he doesn't want to commit to St. Petersburg as the long-term season opener." Bernard: "I love St. Pete. I think that wherever St. Pete is, it'll be successful. I don't want to box myself in and say that it should be the first event." Bernard added that 90% of his attention "has been focused on adding new North American markets next year" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 3/25).