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Volume 24 No. 156

People and Pop Culture

The NFL signing a new CBA with the NFL Referees Association predictably was fodder for the late-night talk shows Thursday. NBC’s “The Tonight Show” took several shots at the league, with host JAY LENO saying in his opening monologue, “Coming into work today, I went through the drive-thru at Jack In the Box. They messed up my order, they gave me the wrong change. So I guess it's official: The replacement refs are back to their old jobs. … Last night, the NFL reached an agreement with real referees. Well, things kind of changed after that blown call last Monday night. Apparently negotiations went something like this: ‘Please come back! I beg you, please! Please! We promise we'll give you whatever you want!’ Are you happy the strike is over? It was horrible. Finally we can get back to the good old days of the NFL when it was players just getting arrested for drunk driving and selling drugs, shooting themselves in the legs.” Leno later noted that NFL Commissioner ROGER GOODELL “held a press conference to announce the return of the professional referees,” and the league “released this promo right before” the Browns-Ravens game Thursday. The “promo” had a voiceover saying, “After Monday night's Packers-Seahawks game, the NFL received 70,000 calls from fans complaining about the replacement referees. Well, Commissioner Roger Goodell heard you loud and clear, America. He's worked out a deal to bring the old refs back. So instead of those incompetent replacement refs blowing calls, you can look forward to these professional refs, the old referees. You wanted them. You got them. Only in the NFL.” During the promo, video was shown of the old officials falling down while placing the ball at the line of scrimmage, getting run over during a play and knocking a player down during another play.”

Neeson in the skit plays a replacement ref who is
on the phone with Packers coach Mike McCarthy

GOING HOLLYWOOD: Actor LIAM NEESON appeared on “The Tonight Show” to promote the upcoming release of “Taken 2,” but he also participated in a referee-inspired segment. Leno said, “The NFL referee strike ended, of course. The strike ended, what, yesterday? Already, Hollywood is making a movie about it. Well, here's the trailer.” The voiceover in the “trailer” said, “In June 2012, the NFL Referees Association and the NFL failed to come to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement. As a result, low-level college and high school referees were brought in by the NFL to officiate games. The rest is history.” The next scene featured Neeson in a striped referees shirt and wearing a whistle, saying he was on the phone with Packers coach MIKE MCCARTHY. Neeson: “I don't know who you are or what you want. I don't really follow football. But what I lack are a very particular set of skills necessary for officiating a professional football game, a lack of skills that could make me a nightmare for people like you. Oh, also while I have you on the phone, do you know how a coin toss works?” The voiceover said, “This fall, Liam Neeson stars in ‘Mistaken’” (“The Tonight Show,” NBC, 9/27).

MORE MONOLOGUES: CBS’ DAVID LETTERMAN in his opening monologue said, “Phony referees gone, ladies and gentlemen. They were taking the place of the real referees and the phony referees were actually fathers of the NFL players that would take turns each game refereeing. But now the real referees are back, ladies and gentlemen. Ladies and gentlemen, who says the U.N. doesn't do anything? … You know, people are screaming about the phony referees. … I think they were unprofessional. Say what you will, they were trying as hard as they possibly could. But the phony referees, here's how unprofessional (they were): Early on -- in their defense I think this was an exhibition game, so it didn't count -- but I saw one of those stand-in referees -- here is how unprofessional -- I saw him send a drink over to a cheerleader” (“Late Show,” CBS, 9/27). ABC’s JIMMY KIMMEL said, “Some good news for football fans. Late last night, the NFL lockout is over. The refs will be back to work and I am happy to say, there will never be a bad call again. The new collective bargaining agreement is an eight-year deal. The referees got better pension, more money and most importantly, what they wanted more than anything, Sundays off. So we might still have a problem” (“Jimmy Kimmel Live,” ABC, 9/27).

NOT READY FOR PRIMETIME PLAYERS: NBC Thursday aired a “Weekend Update Special Edition” with “SNL” cast member SETH MEYERS reporting on the ref news, saying, “The NFL announced early this morning that they had reached a deal with officials ending the referee lockout. Well, it feels nice to say this again: ‘Good call.’ But the real question is what is the NFL going to do about the replacement cheerleaders?” Later in the broadcast, a skit aired for a new NBC show called “Replacement Refs.” The theme song was, “Replacement refs. They’re trying their hardest. What they lack in experience, they lack in decisiveness. You wanted the best but you’re getting replacement refs.” The refs introduced themselves, with one saying, “I'm Dave. I mean Steve. Dang it!” The first episode was called “Episode 42: The Trial.” The scene begins in a courtroom with the jury box consisting of the all replacement refs and after being asked if they have reached a verdict, the replacement ref jury foreman said, “Ummm, yeah, we feel good about it, yeah.” At this point, the defendant said, “I just want to reiterate what I’ve said every day of this trial: I killed those people and I’d do it again!” The replacement ref jury foreman, looking confused and indecisive, said, “Not guilty.” At that moment, another replacement ref juror throws a penalty flag (“Weekend Update Special Edition,” NBC, 9/27).

Do not let NFL VP/Business Development RENIE ANDERSON fool you. She may sell sponsorships for the league during the week in N.Y. sporting a suit and professional grin. But on weekends, she is rocking her gym clothes (just in case there is time for the gym) and may even don a tiara out on the town with her two daughters. This weekend, Anderson is flying solo while her husband, NBC Sports VP/Communications CHRIS MCCLOSKEY, is on Ryder Cup duty. So Anderson, along with her daughters CALLIE and KATE, will rule the roost at their home in Darien, Conn.

FRIDAY NIGHT BITES: Friday night I will go home, then pick up Callie up at soccer practice, which is as interesting as you can imagine for a five-year-old's soccer practice. I’ll take them out to eat at our favorite local pizza place -- Post Corner Pizza. Then we’ll go get ice cream at Gofer Ice Cream. I ask for a small scoop, but they give them the size of an ice cream cone that an elephant would eat. I mean it’s gigantic, it’s a HUGE scoop. My three-year-old will have it all over her face within five seconds. She always gets chocolate. My five-year-old will always get a fun color like cotton candy or black raspberry. Then we go home and have a dance party.

SHAKE WHAT YOUR MOMMA GAVE YA: We have our iTouch with a mix list of songs that the girls like that they sing to and dance to and do gymnastics to. So it’s pretty much “Call Me Maybe,” TAYLOR SWIFT's “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” “Payphone” by MAROON 5. And then my youngest daughter likes rock n’ roll, she likes ACDC. I can walk on my hands for a pretty good amount of time, so I do that. It’s not necessarily a dance move. We like to do a lot of twirling, zumba dancing, leg kicks. If it’s a rock song we’ll bang our heads and do air guitar. It’s complete chaos.

JUST IN CASE: Saturday morning I get up and I put on my gym clothes. I don’t have a specific plan to go to the gym, but I’m always dressed just in case I get to work out. It’s 100% true. I get up, I put my gym clothes on, I don’t know if I’m going to be able to go to the gym or go for a run, but at least one thing is done: I’m dressed … just in case. We do a mix of activities with the girls and chores around the house.

GAME TIME: They both have t-ball practice. There’s a new area called the Chelsea Piers in Stamford. They take a one-hour t-ball class which is hilarious where they learn to play baseball. Last week the coach said to my three-year-old, “Kate, don’t lay down on second base.” Then my older daughter Callie later in the day has a soccer game, which is even more hilarious. She’s on the Blue Jays, they actually play a game for an hour. The first game she did 15 cartwheels in the game. She did not score, she was exhausted from all the gymnastics from in the game.

FALL FESTIVITIES: We’re planning this Saturday on going to a pumpkin patch. I’ll go with them and they can pick out a couple pumpkins they can paint on and I will do the carving of scary faces. I am not a master carver, I would say I’m an amateur carver that’s really good with a Sharpie marker. I have a mean apple pie recipe that’s my mom’s recipe and we’ll make chili.

SUNDAY FUNDAY: Sunday morning we go to church and the girls go to Sunday school. We do get donuts every Sunday at a place called Darien Doughnut. Then we watch NFL football pretty much all day and while we’re watching we’ll play outside, clean the house. I’m notorious for -- I will repaint a room in a drop’s notice. So if the girls are watching a movie and I have paint in my basement, I’ll repaint the dining room without planning it an hour beforehand. I have a piece of furniture that I got at a local tag sale that I need to refinish and paint. So I’ll probably do that on Sunday. It’s like a dresser, nothing fancy that I more or less got for a dollar. We’ll play outside, we’ll go see neighbors. If I have to get a babysitter for five minutes, maybe I’ll go for a run. The good news is I’ll be dressed for it ‘cause I’ll be in my gym clothes.

Sprint named Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority Marketing Dir KIMBERLY MEESTERS to the company's sports marketing team as Manager of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series sponsorship. She spent the previous three years with the CRVA working on the NASCAR HOF, Time Warner Cable Arena and other regional facilities. Meesters will report to Sprint Sports Marketing Dir TIM CONSIDINE (Tripp Mickle, SportsBusiness Journal).

EXECS: The Nets and Barclays Center promoted Senior VP/Communications BARRY BAUM to Senior VP & Chief Communications Officer (Nets)....The Red Sox named JASON VARITEK Special Assistant to the GM (, 9/27)....G4S CEO NICK BUCKLES "will remain at the security firm after an internal review of the London 2012 Olympics." G4S COO DAVID TAYLOR-SMITH and Managing Dir IAN HORSEMAN SEWELL "have resigned" (London TELEGRAPH, 9/28)....KV Racing Technology released more than two dozen employees, including GM MARK JOHNSON and Team Manager TOM WURTZ. Johnson is "said to be heading to Dragon Racing (, 9/27)....Fordham Univ. named Colgate Univ. AD DAVID ROACH to the same position (Fordham)....Le Moyne College named Syracuse Univ. Dir of Regional Programs & Alumni Relations KASHA GODLESKI Associate AD/Advancement (Le Moyne)....SUNY-Oswego promoted Assistant AD CORA BRUMLEY to interim AD (SUNY-Oswego).

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The AP's Steve Megargee reported former Univ. of Tennessee Media Dir DEBBY JENNINGS has filed a lawsuit against the school and AD DAVE HART "alleging that age and sex discrimination led to her forced retirement from the school where she had worked for 35 years." In the lawsuit filed Thursday with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee, Jennings claims Hart and other athletic officials "wanted to remodel the athletic department as a 'good ol' boys' club while replacing her with a younger man." Jennings was "57 years old when she left her job in May as the university worked toward consolidating the men's and women's athletic departments." The suit alleges that "12 of the 15 employees laid of as part of the consolidation of the two athletic departments were female" (AP, 9/27).

ROLL TIDE: Univ. of Alabama men's basketball coach ANTHONY GRANT "has received a $100,000 raise and a one-year contract extension through 2019." Univ. system trustees "approved a raise" Thursday to $1.9M from Grant's deal in April '09. In addition, AD MAL MOORE's salary "goes from $588,500 to $620,000 but the deal still runs through June 30, 2014." Moore also "received a $125,000 raise two years ago" (AP, 9/27).

UNDER INVESTIGATION: The GLOBE & MAIL's Stueck & Bailey reported former VANOC CEO JOHN FURLONG is "defending himself against allegations that he abused native students more than 40 years ago" in British Columbia. The allegations were published in the Georgia Straight, where author LAURA ROBINSON "quotes several people who allege Mr. Furlong physically and verbally abused them at a school in Burns Lake, B.C., where he was teaching around the early 1970s." The Royal Canadian Mounted Police in a statement "confirmed it is investing the allegations" (GLOBE & MAIL, 9/28).

JAZZ OF ALL TRADES: In Salt Lake City, Brian Smith profiles Jazz Exec VP, CFO & Assistant GM BOB HYDE. Smith writes Hyde is the person "who's seen it all for 27 seasons and is the second-longest tenured employee inside the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies." He is "rarely ever seen and almost never quoted," but Hyde is Jazz Exec VP/Basketball Operations & GM KEVIN O'CONNOR's "right-hand man." He is the team's "salary-cap guru, chief financial officer and Moneyball-believer rolled into one." While Hyde "swears his job and name don't merit mention, he's quietly become the most interesting -- and at times the most important -- person on the Millers' payroll." His cap "expertise will be essential during a season that could see Utah carry eight expiring contracts" (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 9/28).

ZOMBIELAND: NASCAR driver KURT BUSCH has joined “several celebrities to benefit the American Red Cross by pretending to be a zombie in the organization’s new campaign.” The non-profit has “joined forced” with the AMC network to use the makeup artists from “The Walking Dead” for the blood-drive campaign. Other celebrities participating in the campaign include WHITNEY PORT, PETER JACKSON, AISHA TYLER, THE BLACK KEYS, JOEL MADDEN, MENA SUVARI, MARIA MENOUNOS, JIMMY SMITS, LAIRD HAMILTON and ELISABETH ROHM (, 9/27)

NAMES: Former WWE wrestler and Sports Legacy Institute President & CEO CHRISTOPHER NOWINSKI and ESPN MLS analyst TAYLOR TWELLMAN were at Suffolk Univ. in Boston on Thursday night for a forum about head injuries and athletics (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/28)....Cowboys Owner JERRY JONES will play himself in an upcoming episode of FX' "The League" (, 9/27)....IndyCar driver RYAN BRISCOE was in Indianapolis this week to tape an episode of Discovery Channel's "MythBusters" (, 9/27)....Golfer MICHELLE WIE will lend her name to the Michelle Wie Hawaii State Junior Golf Association Tournament of Champions in December. Wie will “donate her time and collectibles, and match the first $10,000 in donations in an online fundraising campaign” (Honolulu STAR-ADVERTISER, 9/27)….Baseball HOFer WADE BOGGS announced his “support and part ownership” in developing youth baseball and softball fields in Oak Lawn, Iowa. He will “invest financially and teach clinics at the site” just outside of Dyersville, Iowa that was featured in the movie “Field of Dreams” (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 9/28).

IN MEMORY: Former National Speed Sport News Editor CHRIS ECONOMAKI passed away Friday at the age of 91. Economaki began working for the publication at age 14 and held the Editor position for 60 years. He "worked races around the world for ABC through the 1983 season when he made the jump to CBS where he appeared through the mid 1990s." Economaki also worked "worldwide Formula One telecasts for ESPN in 1987 and 1988" (, 9/28). ESPN's David Newton writes Economaki was a "fixture for years at NASCAR events, and played a huge role in growing NASCAR's popularity" (, 9/28)....Hoosier Racing Tire Founder BOB NEWTON died Wednesday at his home in Plymouth at the age of 85. Newton founded the company in '57 to provide "high-quality, low-cost tires for Midwest racers." NASCAR driver TONY STEWART said that Newton "was key to the development of his career" (, 9/27).

Mark your calendars for the 2013 Sports Business Awards ceremony. We will be honoring excellence in sports business on Wednesday, May 22, 2013, at the N.Y. Marriott Marquis at Times Square. Plan now to be among the industry’s best, brightest and elite for an evening recognizing the leaders, visionaries and day-to-day practitioners who personify excellence in the business of sport.

Information on the entry process for the 2013 Sports Business Awards will be on our website -- -- beginning Monday, Nov. 5. The deadline to submit your entry is Friday, Jan. 11. Questions on submitting an entry can be directed to Laurie Garrison at (704) 973-1331 or