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Volume 24 No. 159

People and Pop Culture

ESPN President JOHN SKIPPER tops SportsBusiness Journal's annual "50 Most Influential People In Sports Business" list. Skipper this year took over for GEORGE BODENHEIMER, and ESPN "hasn't skipped a beat." He has cut "huge rights deals" with the NFL, MLB, the BCS, the ACC and Big 12, and invested "more money in the content side of the business through the launch of Grantland, the hiring of two Pulitzer Prize winners and the expansion of '30 for 30.'" Below is the complete list of this year's honorees (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 12/10 issue).

ESPN President John Skipper
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell
MLB Commissioner Bud Selig
NBA Commissioner David Stern
AEG Chair Phil Anschutz and AEG President & CEO Tim Leiweke
Fox Sports co-Presidents & co-COOs Eric Shanks and Randy Freer
The Kraft Group Founder, Chairman & CEO Robert Kraft
Dodgers Chair and Guggenheim Partners Founder & CEO Mark Walter
CBS Sports Chair Sean McManus
Turner Broadcasting President of Sales, Distribution & Sports David Levy
PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem
NBC Sports Group Chair Mark Lazarus
NASCAR CEO Brian France
IMG Chair & CEO Mike Dolan and
IMG Sports & Entertainment President George Pyne
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman
Nike Brand President Charlie Denson and Nike Inc. President Mark Parker
IOC President Jacques Rogge
Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones
NHLPA Exec Dir Don Fehr
NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver
F1 President & CEO Bernie Ecclestone
Time Warner Cable Exec VP and
Chief Video & Content Officer Melinda Witmer
Wasserman Media Group Chair & CEO Casey Wasserman
MLB Exec VP/Economics & League Affairs Rob Manfred and
MLB Exec VP/Business Tim Brosnan
NCAA President Mark Emmert
Lakers Owner Jerry Buss and Exec VP/Business Operations Jeannie Buss
SEC Commissioner Mike Slive
MLS Commissioner Don Garber
Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany
A-B InBev CEO Carlos Brito and VP/Global Connections Maarten Albarda
CAA Sports co-Heads Michael Levine and Howard Nuchow
Under Armour CEO & Founder Kevin Plank
USOC Chair Larry Probst and CEO Scott Blackmun
ESPN Exec VP/ Sales & Marketing Sean Bratches
Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott
NFL Exec VP & General Counsel Jeff Pash
adidas Chair & CEO Herbert Hainer
MLB Giants President & CEO Larry Baer
Coca-Cola Senior VP/Marketing Alison Lewis and Senior VP/Sports & Marketing Partnerships Sharon Byers
Fenway Sports Group Owner John Henry
MillerCoors CMO Andy England and MillerCoors President & CCO Tom Long
NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith
Comcast-Spectacor Chair Ed Snider and President & COO Peter Luukko
MLBAM President & CEO Bob Bowman
StubHub CEO Chris Tsakalakis
NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly and Proskauer Partner Bob Batterman
Octagon President & CEO Rick Dudley
NFL Giants co-Owner, President & CEO John Mara
Ticketmaster CEO Nathan Hubbard
ATP World Tour Exec Chair & President Brad Drewett

HOW THE LIST CAME TOGETHER: SBD/SBJ Exec Editor Abraham Madkour writes about how the list is created: “As we have stated, this isn’t a list of the most powerful executives or those who had the most productive or successful years. Instead, it’s a ranking of the decision-makers who change the way sports is valued, consumed, presented and produced. … As you’ll see, influence doesn’t always yield a feel-good result or story, and some may view certain individuals as being a detriment to the overall success of sports. But the names here represent, from our point of view, the people who are driving sports at this moment in time. The list inevitably leads to head-scratching, disagreements, sometimes angry phone calls and more than its share of Monday morning quarterbacking.” Madkour lists “some of the names and rankings that may surprise you” (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 12/10 issue).

The CFL Edmonton Eskimos promoted head scout ED HERVEY to GM. Hervey replaces ERIC TILLMAN, who was relieved of his duties in November (EDMONTON JOURNAL, 12/11)....WebStream Sports named NCAA Dir of Championships & Alliances, Media Services GREGORY WEITEKAMP President & Partner. Weitekamp begins his new role in February (WebStream)....Madd Gear Americas named EB Sport Group President BRIAN ANDERSON President & CEO (THE DAILY).

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The WALL STREET JOURNAL’s Reed Albergotti reports the U.S. Department of Justice “may not be finished" with cyclist LANCE ARMSTRONG. DOJ officials are “still considering whether to join a whistleblower lawsuit filed by his former teammate, FLOYD LANDIS.” Court docs made public over the weekend show that Armstrong “has been subpoenaed for documents in the case, and suggest he has been fighting vigorously to control the flow of information.” Landis’ whistleblower lawsuit accused Armstrong of "defrauding the U.S. Postal Service because he allegedly used performance-enhancing drugs in violation of the team contract” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 12/11).

JIMMY HOLLYWOOD: Tennis HOFer JIMMY CONNORS “has signed with talent agency APA in all areas.” APA will “look to extend Connors’ brand across all platforms, from broadcast to endorsements and publishing.” Connor’s memoir, “The Outsider,” will be published by Harper on May 14. Connors is also represented by MICHAEL BLAKEY of Electra Star Management (, 12/10).

AWARDS & RECOGNITION: The Int’l Boxing HOF yesterday announced yesterday that referee MILLS LANE, ring announcer JIMMY LENNON JR. and journalist COLIN HART will be among the class enshrined June 9 (CP, 12/10)….Indians adviser JOHNNY GORYL has received the MiLB Mike Coolbaugh Award for “outstanding baseball work ethic, knowledge of the game and skill in mentoring young players on the field” (, 12/7)….The Boys & Girls Club of Silicon Valley awarded 49ers Chief Sales Officer JOHN VIDALIN the Champion of Youth award for his fundraising work on the club’s board (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 12/11)….AD WEEK named Wieden + Kennedy its Agency of the Year. The agency’s “It’s Halftime in America” Super Bowl spot with actor and director CLINT EASTWOOD “was an instant classic." Other work from Wieden this year included a Nike ad called “Jogger,” which used a “chubby boy jogging on an open road” as its focal point, and a spot called “Shake on It” for ESPN (AD WEEK, 12/10 issue)….The Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation will honor boxing HOFer MUHAMMAD ALI and Under Armour at its annual Aspire Gala on Feb. 22 (, 12/10).

GONE COUNTRY: PBR co-Founder TY MURRAY, along with his wife and singer JEWEL, and Professional Rodeo Cowboy’s TREVOR BRAZILE each presented an American Country Award last night. Murray said, “I feel a lot of similarities between country musicians and cowboy athletes. Both spend a lot of time on the road pursuing a dream and entertaining crowds” (“American Country Awards,” Fox, 12/10). Meanwhile, Giants P BARRY ZITO and 1B BRANDON BELT also presented an award last night alongside comedian RODNEY CARRINGTON (, 12/10).

NAMES: Jaguars coach MIKE MULARKEY yesterday fell ill and was “taken to Baptist Medical Center for tests and was released later in the day.” He is “expected back at work” today (, 12/10)….Members of the Bruins’ front office and coaching staff participated in the franchise’s annual holiday toy shopping spree yesterday at a Target store in Woburn, Mass. The club will give presents to children at local hospitals next week. The Bruins Foundation, Delaware North and Garden Neighborhood Charities donated $22,500 for the event (BOSTON HERALD, 12/11)….Members of the Celtics “spread holiday cheer” yesterday while visiting children from Boston Medical Center’s Pediatric Hematology Program (BOSTON HERALD, 12/11).