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Volume 24 No. 112

Leagues and Governing Bodies

The NFL has "every option ... on the table" regarding London, including a team "moving there, an expansion team, more than three games (the 2014 schedule) and perhaps even a slate of eight games, played by different teams every year," according to Peter King of THE MMQB. There is a thought that because there is "no 'home' team in England, and selling a bad Jacksonville team will be problematic right now, a good option is every team alternating." However, that "won’t be a good option the minute you tell a Packers, Steelers, Broncos or Seahawks fan he or she has to lose a home game for the sake of expansionism." King: "I sense frustration from some around the league that the NFL spends huge money to put on a great show in England one to three times a year, and the media there ignores it" (, 10/28).

Majority of Wembley Stadium crowd stayed until
the end of 49ers-Jaguars despite it being a blowout
CROWD PLEASER: In S.F., Eric Branch notes the 49ers-Jaguars game yesterday "was a blowout by the second quarter, but the majority of the 83,559 fans who packed Wembley Stadium stayed engaged in the game and in their seats until the end." The Jaguars were the home team and each fan "received a Jaguars flag." However, the 49ers also "received plenty of backing from the crowd" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 10/28). In London, Davidde Corran notes Jaguars LB Paul Posluszny "hailed the Wembley crowd, declaring he would gladly come back." He said, "The amount of people here, the fans, the fact that the game got out of hand in the fourth quarter and everybody stayed and was loud. The crowd was unbelievable. It was one of the best NFL atmospheres I've ever been a part of." Corran notes only one NFL stadium in the U.S. "has held a bigger crowd this season and it offers proof that expanding the NFL International Series to include a second game has not diminished the passion for American football in London" (GUARDIAN, 10/28). Also in London, Nick Szczepanik noted the game was a sellout, but that "is more to do with the 49ers." Likewise, next season's Jaguars game will be "another guaranteed full house" against the Cowboys. But will the NFL pair the Jaguars with the Bills or Texans and "see how many members of the newly formed 'Union Jax' fan club turn out?" (, 10/27).

TWO IS BETTER THAN ONE: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Saturday said, ''We don't have a timetable for (a London franchise). We want to continue building interest, and if it continues to go well we believe a franchise could be here. The Super Bowl won't be played anywhere where we don't have a franchise. Right now, our focus is on the U.K. since the European fans can get here. We want to build on our success here, and whether it leads to a permanent franchise or not, then we can see. What happens here will dictate that" (AP, 10/26).'s Bill Williamson noted Goodell was asked about bringing the NFL "back to L.A. and where it ranks on the league's wish list compared to putting a team in London." He replied, "It doesn't matter. I'd love to be back in Los Angeles. But it has to be done the right way, we have to do it successfully. ... I want both (London and L.A.), but it doesn't matter which one is first" (, 10/26). Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones said, “One thing that Roger has been about is growing the pie of the NFL. He feels -- and I agree with him -- that our foundation, where we are right now economically, the interests that’s in our game, some of the things that we’ve been able to get done put us on sound footing to think about a 'wow'-type expansion effort. Certainly Los Angeles is that in spades, and London makes me smile when I think about the NFL having a team in London” ("Sunday NFL Countdown," ESPN, 10/27).

MIXED BAG: In Jacksonville, Gene Frenette wrote of putting an NFL team in London, "Nobody can legitimately rule it out." The NFL organized a "fan rally Saturday at Trafalgar Square in central London, and there were moments you would have thought the Rolling Stones were in concert." Goodell is "tapping into the London money pit to see how a soccer-crazed culture will respond to real talent playing real games." Six years into the "experiment, the dollars keep pouring in." The idea that the NFL "could never put a team here or anywhere in Europe ... doesn't seem as far-fetched as it once was." There is an "increased feeling in the U.K. that the NFL brand is gaining a stronger foothold" (, 10/26). In S.F., Ann Killion writes the 49ers "survived the NFL's ill-advised push to be a global entity." Goodell "apparently thinks that exporting lousy NFL teams to a world-class city somehow makes them world-class products." The NFL over the years has "sent abroad the winless Dolphins, Buccaneers, Steelers and Vikings and now, the Jaguars." It seems "odd that a league that ostensibly is concerned about player health and safety thinks that traveling to another continent to play a game is a great idea" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 10/28).

BEST OF BOTH WORLDS: In London, Szczepanik for the INDEPENDENT noted a fall-off in attendance for the Jaguars' "third and fourth games of their residency might force a rethink about the future of games in London, let alone a team permanently based here." Yet Jaguars Owner Shad Khan, who owns EPL club Fullham, already is talking about playing Jaguars games at the club's Craven Cottage facility, which "cannot happen until the NFL contract with Wembley runs out in 2016, so nothing is ruled out" (London INDEPENDENT, 10/27). Also in London, Henry Winter noted Khan sees the EPL "learning from American sports and vice-versa." He said, "A hard salary cap (as in the NFL) would certainly sustain soccer in a big way. In the Premier League it's very much a 'you eat what you kill' concept. Merchandising and marketing is all done at club level whereas in the NFL you sell the rights to the League, split them up and each team is going to end up with more money. That is very, very difficult when you have relegation and promotion" (London TELEGRAPH, 10/26).

GIVE AND TAKE: Jaguars President Mark Lamping said that playing in London offers the team and Jacksonville "a chance at making money." He said, "London will certainly generate significantly more revenue than if we played that game here in Jacksonville. It also creates an awareness of the team and the community." Lamping added that the team is "still focused on what he calls the 'core market,' the counties surrounding Jacksonville plus Central Florida and South Georgia, but the NFL cut a special deal with the Jaguars." In Jacksonville, Andrew Pantazi noted the Jaguars have "special rights to British sponsorships (and money)." City and Chamber of Commerce execs have been "meeting with business leaders in London this past week hoping that, regardless of how the Jaguars perform, the delegation will bring some success to Jacksonville, namely jobs." They met with "a solar-energy company from Ireland," a "site-selection" company that helps businesses relocate, an aviation company, a property company, a software company and food company Greencore. City Council President Bill Gulliford on Friday said of Jacksonville, "We just don’t have the exposure. … We’re not Orlando, we’re not Miami, we’re not Fort Lauderdale, all those known names. But I think we’ve got a great opportunity" (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 10/27).

The LPGA today granted membership for '14 to 16-year-old Lydia Ko, who "petitioned the LPGA tour to turn pro earlier this month," according to Steve DiMeglio of USA TODAY. Ko currently is ranked No. 5 in the world and plans to "compete in her first event as a professional" at the LPGA's season-ending CME Group Titleholders in Naples, Fla., on Nov. 21-24. She earned a spot in the tournament field by "winning the 2013 CN Canadian Women's Open, her second win on the LPGA tour." Ko had to file a "petition with the LPGA to seek a waiver of the tour's ruling requiring members to be at least 18" (, 10/28).'s Ryan Lavner notes Lexi Thompson was 16 when she won the Navistar Classic in '11, and then "successfully petitioned the tour so she could claim the tour exemption that came with the victory" (, 10/28). Golf Channel's Damon Hack said, "This is a player who is so special, who seems so mature beyond her years. I voice concerns about having a teenager granted special membership, but she’s a special player. This is a rare bird we’re seeing" ("Morning Drive," Golf Channel, 10/28).'s Beth Ann Baldry writes under the header, "LPGA Makes Right Call In Granting Ko Membership." LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan "made the right call" in granting Ko membership (, 10/28).

WHAN DOES NOT WANT TO RUSH PLAYERS: Golf World’s Ron Sirak noted he talked to Whan earlier this year about the tour's age limit and noted Whan does not want to "send a message out to kids to abandon their education." Sirak: "There were three key factors why he approved this petition. One, she is going to turn 17 April 24th, and that’s relatively early in the year. He doesn’t like 16 but 17 is a number he can live with. Especially since she’s won twice, that’s the second factor. The third thing is the maturity factor. He says, and this is a great point, ‘These players are not just competing, these young women are also selling the tour.’ Definitely mature enough to interact in the pro-am, to hang with sponsors, more importantly to hang with potential sponsors.” Sirak noted Ko's team has not "been rushing things, they’ve taken things one step at a time." Sirak: "She won on the smaller tours before she won on the LPGA, so I think they’ve showed a real patience in there and I don’t think that they are going to overextend her. I think that they are aware of the pitfalls and they are going to avoid them” (“Morning Drive,” Golf Channel, 10/28).

The NBA opens its season tomorrow, and the "information surrounding the game has never been as rich, detailed or impactful," according to Rick Maese of the WASHINGTON POST. It is "not like the Moneyball divide that split much of the baseball world; most in basketball have embraced detailed statistical analysis." One of the movement’s "most ardent backers is incoming NBA commissioner Adam Silver, whose interest in analytics dates from his days as a law student" at the Univ. of Chicago. Silver said, "Clearly now, throughout the league, there is a cross section in terms of how they value it, but I think there is a sense now from every team that at least it’s a factor, in considering lineups and considering players, and some teams use it more than others." Maese noted, "Roughly three-quarters of the league’s 30 teams have full-time staffers charged with dissecting numbers -- most have clunky titles, such as Senior Quantitative Analyst, Basketball Information Coordinator or Manager of Basketball Analytics." Teams regard "much of their philosophy as proprietary." They "won’t say how many data analysts they employ, what metrics they value most or how they use the information." The average NBA game is "decided by just a couple of points, so even the smallest edge is still an edge." The league for the first time this season will "station cameras in the rafters of all 30 arenas to help produce more data than ever before." In short, "everything on the court can now be quantified." The NBA begins this season with 21 GMs "who never played the game professionally." Fourteen of the "past 15 GM hires have been non-players, and most are widely praised for embracing analytics." The new crop of execs "are salary-cap savvy, highly invested in technology and devour all types of data" (WASHINGTON POST, 10/26).

WATCH YOUR EVERY MOVE: The WASHINGTON POST's Maese noted data firm Stats will use the rafter-located cameras "to quantify and analyze every movement of every game throughout the entire season." Fifteen teams last season "independently paid for cameras stationed above the court to track their players' movements." The NBA in the offseason "took the lead and made the push to outfit all 30 NBA arenas with SportVU technology." Every team will "receive a base package of data and analysis, and some will pay for a deeper dive and more video integration." Teams will have access to the information "almost in real-time" (WASHINGTON POST, 10/26). In DC, Michael Lee noted Silver has "embraced new technologies with a keen interest in how a data-driven approach will affect fans." Silver said, "One of my big pushes over the last several years is about making more of this statistical data available to our fans. Because there increasingly seems to be a real hunger by our fans to get deeper into the game and in many ways, we’ve lagged behind other sports, certainly baseball." He added of brokering a league-wide deal, "We arranged for teams to get a basic set of data, but then it’s up to the teams if they want to supplement the basic package with additional data and of course, it’s left to the teams to decide what’s the best way is to crunch that data. And that’s called proprietary information that they view as highly confidential and don’t necessarily share with anyone else" (, 10/27).