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Volume 24 No. 117

Leagues and Governing Bodies

NFL players “look like they didn't gain anything” from last year's lockout, according to an analysis of the financial elements of the deal by Greg Bedard of the BOSTON GLOBE. Despite the new CBA, it now "appears” players are losing money -- some $652M over the next three seasons. NFLPA President Domonique Foxworth said that he is "content with the deal he helped craft." Foxworth: "I can't speak for individual players; I'm really happy." Bedard wrote the owners, who "said the league couldn’t continue to give players" 50 cents of every dollar, "look like they’re winning handily through at least" '15. The NFL Management Council "informed owners at the league meetings that the salary cap will remain flat" through '15, and then "increase incrementally." Bedard noted not only "does that run counter to what the NFLPA told agents at their annual meeting at the scouting combine -- they were told the cap would explode" in '14 when the "new television money was due to hit -- but it falls way short of what the NFL offered the union before the lockout started." And if '15 "remains flat, the players will have lost more than a billion dollars" from '12-15. Bedard: "Surely players and agents are going to be upset if this comes to pass." Foxworth said, "Next week is when I'm going to go crunch all the numbers with our lawyers and figure out the true cap projections. ...One thing I know is the NFL isn’t getting less popular, so I don’t think that anyone is in danger, from owners or the players’ side, [of] going bankrupt any time soon." He added, "One thing that we did do that I’m proud of is for the first time we linked our revenue to actual revenue." Bedard wrote maybe the lockout "will eventually be worth it for that, but it’s not doing them much good now." Bedard also noted Foxworth looked "as puzzled as anyone about the cap being flat" through '15. Foxworth: "I’m being careful not to say anything, but I think anyone with a brain in their head thinks that the NFL is going to continue to be lucrative." Bedard wrote, "So right now, the NFL’s numbers are the leaders in the clubhouse. We’ll see if they’re knocked down, and whether the players stand to make a bundle from 2016 to 2020 to offset the losses in the near term. They had better. Right now, it looks like the players lost in the deal, and the whole nightmare of a lockout was really unnecessary." Meanwhile, Foxworth is "looking to widen the players’ economic reach through endorsement deals for the NFLPA." He said, "We haven’t been able to monetize and capitalize on our true value. While the NFL does a great job of capitalizing on the official soft drink of the NFL, we don’t do a good job of that. That’s one of my big drives" (BOSTON GLOBE, 4/8).

JUST SAY NO: In Indianapolis, Bob Kravitz wrote, "This is what I don't understand: Why have players been dragging their oversized feet for more than a year on human growth hormone (HGH) testing?" Kravitz: "I blame the players, who don't respect one another enough to eradicate a performance-enhancing drug that is part and parcel of their game" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 4/9).

GOOD FOR THE SHIELD? In Miami, Dan Le Batard wrote the Saints bounty story has been "prepared and packaged for our consumption by the NFL." NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell "clearly wants this in the news." He "wants people to be shocked and outraged and clucking." Le Batard: "And, yes, safety is his primary concern ... if by that you mean keeping his league safe from lawsuits. This is all a shield for his shield." If Goodell had "wanted this story to be about merely safety and punishment and protecting the league from bad publicity, he would have done it more privately, and punished everyone at once so that it would stay in the news for a couple of days instead of a couple of months." But there is "one thing the NFL cares about far more than player safety, image or anything else: the dollar" (MIAMI HERALD, 4/8).

The PGA Tour Valero Texas Open “has landed the coveted April 4-7 window on the tour's calendar next year,” according to Richard Oliver of the SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS. Golf San Antonio President & CEO Tony Piazzi, whose group organizes the event, said, “I think it is [an] opportunity. I think it's one of those things where we'll know how it works for us once we go through it.” The Shell Houston Open, which “traditionally has served as the warm-up for the season's first major, will be moved to March 28-31 in 2013.” Valero Exec Dir of Corporate Communications Bill Day said that the company “believes its commitment to charitable giving -- the tournament raised $9 million a year ago -- is a catalyst for the tour's decision” (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 4/11). The AP’s Doug Ferguson noted the Houston Open “has created an identity as the last chance for a player to qualify” for The Masters, which “traditionally ends on the second Sunday of April, and the way the calendar falls in 2013, that pushes it back one week later than usual.” The PGA Tour has decided that Houston “will stay the week after Bay Hill, and the Texas Open in San Antonio will take the spot the week before the Masters.” Houston Golf Assoc. President & CEO Steve Timms said, "We're going to work with it. It's not going to change the strategy at all in terms of how we set up the golf course.” He added, “We're hopeful they'll continue to want to play in Houston to prepare for the Masters." Ferguson noted if the date move is “not enough, the PGA Tour has agreed to move the Tavistock Cup -- a Monday-Tuesday exhibition -- from the week of Bay Hill to the week of Houston.” This is the “second time in three years the Texas Open has been given a spot that belonged to another tournament.” Two officials said that the Texas Open contract “says that it cannot end on Easter Sunday, which is why it was given the week after the Masters last year.” The tournament is “one of the top contributors to charity on the PGA Tour, with much of that money coming from a golf outing it holds the day after its event.” The “fear is that ending on Easter would limit participation in the outing” (AP, 4/10). GOLFWEEK's Forecaddie writes, "Call it a 1-2-3 punch for Shell. For a sponsor that has poured $40 million into the World Golf Hall of Fame, it's nothing shy of astonishing" (GOLFWEEK, 4/13 issue).

SEE YOU ON THE COAST: In California, Jerry Stewart reported the PGA Tour “may be moving the start of the season, but the folks in scheduling will want to think twice if they ever consider moving the dates of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.” Monterey Peninsula Foundation CEO Steve John, whose group hosts the event, said, "The phones were ringing off the hook. I think that people, as a result of this year's tournament, are more interested in the coming years of the tournament and are more inclined to follow the event. But no, the dates have not changed." He added, "I actually think it's a better position for us in the PGA Tour schedule. As it stands, at the start of the season you typically get some players who simply don't start on the West Coast. Under the change, the season will already be in full bloom" (Monterey County HERALD, 4/4).

The NBA Summer League in Las Vegas “will be back at Cox Pavilion and the Thomas & Mack Center from July 13 through July 22, with 23 teams expected to participate,” according to Steve Carp of the LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL. Summer League Exec Dir Warren LeGarie said, "We're excited to be back. Sometimes you take things for granted, and not having the summer league last year was tough for us and the fans. We really missed it." The NBA on Monday “was finalizing teams and ticket prices,” and LeGarie said that both the Lakers and the Clippers “have committed.” The Summer League, which skipped '11 due to the lockout, “has become an important event on the league calendar.” The owners “schedule their summer meetings at the Palms in conjunction with the league.” Carp noted the “biggest change is the date.” In previous years, play began right after the July 4 holiday. But this year the Summer League “pushed back its start by a week because of the NBA's condensed season and the need to give drafted players time to assimilate with their new teams, along with the fact that USA Basketball will be practicing at the adjacent Mendenhall Center during the earlier dates” (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 4/10).