Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez on Thursday sued MLB, "accusing it of buying the cooperation" of Biogenesis Founder Anthony Bosch as "part of a continuing 'witch hunt' to force him out of the sport," according to Steve Eder of the N.Y. TIMES. The lawsuit "specifically accuses" MLB of engaging in “'tortuous interference,' essentially interfering with Rodriguez’s existing contracts and future business relationships." The suit, filed in N.Y. State Supreme Court in Manhattan, "does not address whether Rodriguez used banned substances." Rodriguez' lawyers in the suit allege MLB paid Bosch $5M "in monthly installments 'to buy his cooperation,' citing 'at least one individual who claims to have knowledge of Mr. Bosch's deal.'" The lawyers also said that MLB "promised to provide security" for Bosch, as well as "cover his legal bills and indemnify him from civil liability stemming from the case." MLB Commissioner Bud Selig "was named as a defendant in the suit," but the Yankees "were not, nor were any of the team's officers" (NYTIMES.com, 10/4). ESPN N.Y.'s Andrew Marchand reports Rodriguez and his attorneys are "going to fire everything they have at baseball and they're going" after Selig. Marchand said the lawsuit claims MLB "improperly marshaled evidence in hopes of destroying the reputation and career" of Rodriguez. The suit also claims Selig "did this because of 'past inaction during the steroid era' and this was an attempt to secure his legacy as the 'savior of America's pastime.'" One of main contention in the suit is that the 211-game suspension handed out by MLB is "unjust because A-Rod never failed a test" Marchand notes Rodriguez's handlers feel the lawsuit "is separate from the arbitration process" that presently is taking place ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 10/4).
Leagues and Governing Bodies
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Thursday in an open letter to fans outlined the advances the league has made in recent years regarding player safety, but it posed the question of whether the letter was "an innocent and unprovoked state-of-the-league notice to supporters or merely a timely move to soften reaction to a pair of approaching threats to the NFL brand," according to Babband & Maske of the WASHINGTON POST. With a "Frontline" documentary and related book coming out on Tuesday that examine the league's treatment of player head trauma, "it was easy to make the connection" that Goodell’s letter was a "preemptive measure five days before the next wave of criticism." NFL Senior VP/PR Greg Aiello said that Goodell’s open letter was "'planned independently' of the forthcoming projects and compelled by no outside factor." Aiello in an e-mail wrote, "It is part of regular communication that the commissioner has with fans." But Babband & Maske write "suspicions exist, particularly after ESPN announced in August it was ending a collaborative agreement with PBS to produce and market" the documentary. Sports Business Group President David Carter said that Goodell's letter "might have targeted fans -- but that it was clear he was speaking to a larger audience" (WASHINGTON POST, 10/4). ESPN Radio's Mike Greenberg said, "I do believe certainly that there were enormous mistakes made by the National Football League over the years, overlooking these problems. I can't sit here and tell you ... that there was a cover-up there. I believe sincerely right now that Roger Goodell and the people running the sport are sincere in their efforts to make the game safer." Greenberg said of the rule changes and safety initiatives, "If you don’t make the game intrinsically safer, you have not just concern about your past but a concern about your future" ("Mike & Mike," ESPN Radio, 10/4).
PLAYER DISTRUST: Texans S Ed Reed said of the NFL's handling of the concussion issue, "The business of football is very shady. The fact that they would withhold information is bad. The fact that our (collective bargaining agreement) would not want that information, the fact that our older players would take money instead of getting that information is bad. The business of football, NFL football, is shady. Now we can't get that information anymore? It's just swept under the rug? That's bad." ESPN.com's Tania Ganguli noted Reed "expressed both outrage and a lack of surprise." Texans RB Arian Foster also is "generally skeptical about the NFL's commitment to player safety, despite the league's public emphasis on the matter." Foster: "I think the league kind of cloaks their wanting to make the league safe, though. If you want to make the league safe, cut out 'Thursday Night Football.' Do something like that. Don't have guys wear pads on their legs. That's not making anybody safe. It's more like a political move that they try to make things safe" (ESPN.com, 10/3).
DOES LEAGUE REALLY CARE? In Denver, Mark Kiszla writes under the header, "NFL More And More A Glutton For Profit." The NFL "knows Americans are incurable football addicts." Weekly games on Sunday, Monday and Thursday are a "head slap against player health and a cheap shot at quality control." The Eagles opening the season with three games in 11 days is "stupid." Kiszla writes if the NFL "actually gave a hoot about players safety," the possibility of playing an 18-game regular season "would never be mentioned again" (DENVER POST, 10/4).
October marks the fifth year the NFL has teamed with the American Cancer Society (ACS) and league corporate partners to "run A Crucial Catch, the league's month-long breast cancer awareness campaign," according to Ryan Basen of SPORTS ON EARTH. The campaign "raises awareness and funds for breast cancer causes supported by ACS and team charities." But A Crucial Catch is "not as altruistic as it is presented to be." Research suggests that the NFL and its corporate partners "are more concerned with enhancing their public images -- especially among women -- and ultimately revenues, than they are with addressing breast cancer." The NFL's partners in this campaign -- including Pepsi, Ticketmaster and Barclays -- also "want to enhance their images." A Crucial Catch is an "example of cause-related marketing -- using marketing strategies in a partnership to benefit both a social cause and an enterprise." The NFL and ACS are "heavyweights in their field, and a third group (the corporate partners) is involved." The NFL and its corporate partners also "generate revenues by selling and auctioning pink hats, shirts and other A Crucial Catch apparel." While all proceeds from auctioned, game-worn items "go to breast cancer causes, the league declines to say what portion of the apparel sales do." A Crucial Catch organizers "try to persuade consumers to adopt ACS' breast cancer awareness messages, and they project them via an NFL-sized marketing effort." Included are three ads posted on NFL.com/Pink, featuring Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald, Saints QB Drew Brees, Giants QB Eli Manning and Jets QB Mark Sanchez (SPORTSONEARTH.com, 10/3).