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Volume 24 No. 117

People and Pop Culture

Modell’s Sporting Goods CEO MITCHELL MODELL Friday night became the latest sports business exec to appear on CBS’ “Undercover Boss.” Modell said he was going “undercover because when your last name is on the door, it puts unbelievable pressure to make sure that the values that have been passed on for four generations continue to be passed for the next 100 years.” In order to make sure he was not discovered, Modell shaved his head, changed his voice and wore a large fake mustache while posing as Joey Quick, a “former pizza store owner" whose shop closed six months ago. While undercover, the company’s associates were "tricked into thinking they’re on a hosted reality show in which they will work alongside Joey.” Modell said of being the CEO, “I’m usually the last one to know things and unless you know what the customers and your associates are feeling and experiencing, you don’t have a handle on it and I really want to uncover things that are being kept from me that I could help fix.” The first job Modell tried was working with an assistant manager at a store located in Milford, Conn. The state is a “newer market” for the company, and Modell said, “In this particular store, we have been struggling with sales.” Modell folded shirts, redressed a mannequin and interacted with customers. The store assistant manager became skeptical of the set-up, at which point Modell admitted who he was and asked why the store was underperforming. The assistant manager told Modell to stop treating the New England stores “like the red-headed stepchild” and give them the same merchandise found in the N.Y. stores. Modell: “It’s mind-boggling that I had to go undercover to really find out what the truth is.”

MORE ON-THE-JOB TRAINING: Modell also worked at the company’s Bronx-area distribution center loading trucks, driving a delivery truck and spent time working with an apparel manager at a store in DC. Modell said, “I know I have a lot of work to do when I get back to the office. … When I reflect on this week, I feel I failed miserably as CEO.” Modell ended up rewarding an associate with a paid family trip, changing the pay scale in the distribution center and for the truck drivers, promoting several associates to new positions and presenting a trip for an associate and his younger brother on the Nets team plane to an away game (“Undercover Boss,” CBS, 11/2).

Packers QB AARON RODGERS last night was the latest pro sports figure to be profiled on CBS’ “60 Minutes,” with CBS’ Scott Pelley saying Rodgers “seems made for Green Bay,” the smallest market in the NFL. Pelley: “Early in his career, Rogers was considered too small to compete but he scrambled to a Super Bowl victory and became the NFL’s Most Valuable Player.” Rodgers said, “That’s why Green Bay and I get along pretty well. We’ve had that underdog story as part of our history.” Pelley noted the Packers are the only publicly-owned team in the NFL and asked Rodgers, “Is there a drawback to not having a big, powerful owner, not to have JERRY JONES or a ROBERT KRAFT?” Rodgers: “No, I think it’s great. You don’t have somebody who has a ton of money but doesn’t know a whole lot about football trying to tell you what to do.” Pelley also noted that “with so many fans, we were surprised when we noticed that Rodgers doesn’t like being a celebrity all that much.” Packers WR GREG JENNINGS said, “He’s sensitive so you’ve got to be careful what you say around him. … Once he sees this interview, he’s going to be sensitive to the fact that we’re saying he’s sensitive.”

HEAD GAMES: Pelley asked Rodgers about a hit he took against the Lions almost two months before playing in Super Bowl XLV, which Rodgers said was a “scary situation” because he sustained a concussion on the play. Rodgers said he does not “remember those moments after that concussion,” but he said the “instincts I had” were to tell the referee that was fine, “I’m good, but of course I wasn’t.” Rodgers: “That’s a situation where you learn from [it] and you learn the most important thing is being able to have cognitive brain function post-career than trying to be a tough guy.” Pelley said, “There’s something about getting hit in the head that makes you a smarter quarterback.” Rodgers replied, “I think so.” Rodgers said he feels like NFL defenses every game are “trying to take me out.” Referencing the Saints’ bounty scandal, Rodgers said, “I’ve never felt like there’s been money on my head but that’s what happens. The defense is trying to either knock you out of the game or knock you out of your rhythm.” Rodgers said of other teams utilizing a bounty program, "It’s not outside the realm of thinking there could have been other teams that had similar systems” (“60 Minutes,” CBS, 11/4).

In this week's SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, Michael Smith reports BROOKS DOWNING has "left Lagardère Unlimited to open his own agency in Lexington, Ky., where he will primarily represent college coaches and manage events." Downing, who founded BD Global Sports and will serve as president, will "be heavily invested in the college space, both with coaches and college basketball tournaments and doubleheaders." He started the agency with four clients, "most notably" Indiana Univ. basketball coach TOM CREAN (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 11/5 issue).

LICENSE TO DRIVE: In this week's SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, Terry Lefton reports IMG has "tapped former NFL consumer products chief JIM CONNELLY to head its collegiate licensing efforts as a senior vice president with IMG College, whose Collegiate Licensing Co. has licensing rights for around 200 schools." Connelly also will "launch and develop a stadium and arena enhancement initiative." Connelly worked at the NFL from '82 to '07. CORY MOSS, a "17-year CLC veteran who manages the day-to-day operations of CLC out of Atlanta, will now report to Connelly." Meanwhile, IMG College is "removing responsibilities" for CLC from Senior VP MARK DYER, who will "now focus exclusively on leading the unit's business ventures division" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 11/5 issue)

EXECS: The CFL Edmonton Eskimos have ended GM ERIC TILLMAN's contract, effective immediately. The team "couldn't, or wouldn't single out any one reason for firing" Tillman (TORONTO STAR, 11/3)....The 76ers named Grizzlies Basketball Analytics Consultant AARON BARZILAI Basketball Analytics Dir (76ers)....The White Sox promoted VP/Player Development & Special Assignments BUDDY BELL to VP & Assistant GM (White Sox).

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In Charlotte, Joseph Person noted since the club let go of GM MARTY HURNEY, NFL Panthers Dir of Football Operations and acting GM BRANDON BEANE has “gone from handling budgets and overseeing the equipment, video and team operations to watching film with coach RON RIVERA, talking with teams about possible trades and making decisions that will shape the Panthers’ immediate future” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 11/3).

HOORAY FOR HOLLYWOOD: Basketball HOFer ISIAH THOMAS and filmmaker ROBERT TOWNSEND are “collaborating on a new hoops film and were looking for young basketball players to star in it” yesterday at AmericanAirlines Arena. The film is called “Playin’ For Love” and reportedly “will center around a star player who transfers schools and ‘turns a coach’s life upside down.’” More than 1,000 “auditioned for a role in the film” (, 11/4)....49ers LB ALDON SMITH is acting in the film “Hypebeasts,” about a “diverse group of young ‘sneaker heads’ waiting in line for the next overpriced shoe to drop” (S.F. CHRONICLE, 11/5)....MLS Galaxy MF DAVID BECKHAM "is set to quit" the team "and may move to N.Y. so his wife can pursue her fashion career." Beckham, "who has become arguably more famous off the pitch than on it, is not expected to renew his one-year rolling contract with the club," which runs out on Dec. 31. However, sources said that "he has no plans to retire from football" (London DAILY MAIL, 11/3).

NAMES: Irish journalist PAUL KIMMAGE filed a lawsuit in Switzerland against the Int'l Cycling Union, UCI President PAT MCQUAID and former President HEIN VERBRUGGEN that claims the pair of “being complicit in LANCE ARMSTRONG’s doping scheme” (, 11/2)….The Sports Museum’s “Boston vs. Bullies” initiative has “taken some 18 months and a $200,000 investment to get up and running.” Lead partners New Balance and the Highland Street Foundation helped produce “a half-hour DVD on bullying,” that comes with a 20-page facilitator’s guide, “giving teachers or group leaders the tools to drive home the key points with kids” (BOSTON GLOBE, 11/4)….Vikings P CHRIS KLUWE had been writing “a popular online blog” for the St. Paul Pioneer Press, but decided to stop because of “the paper’s editorial against gay marriage, an issue in which Kluwe very strongly believes” (, 11/3)….Former LOCOG Chair SEBASTIAN COE was profiled in Saturday’s “Lunch With The Financial Times” feature, and Gideon Rachman wrote Coe is “once again … basking in public approval.” His memoirs are “being published, just in time for the Christmas market.” Coe said of FIFA President SEPP BLATTER, "It's easy to caricature people but I know him and he's actually quite thoughtful" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 11/3)….U.S. swimmer RYAN LOCHTE “spent two hours with the kids at the Boys & Girls Club” in South Boston to “promote Gillette’s Great Star program, help the kids with their homework and … let them pose” for pictures with his Olympic medal (BOSTON HERALD, 11/3).