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Volume 24 No. 156


The Buccaneers yesterday unveiled new uniforms with a "new color scheme," highlighted by a "richer shade of pewter and a more vibrant shade of red," according to Pat Yasinskas of As a "tribute to the franchise's early years, 'Bay Orange' has been added as a trim color for the jerseys and pants." The white jerseys will "carry pewter sleeves and red numbers," while the red jerseys will "feature pewter sleeves and shoulders with white numbers on the body and red numbers on the shoulders." The Buccaneers are the "first team to incorporate a reflective chrome border around the numbers on the front, back and shoulders." The shift "marks the first time the team has made major changes to its uniforms" since '97 (, 3/3). In Tampa, Gary Shelton writes the Buccaneers now "lead the NFL in accessorizing." There is "the chrome facemask, and there are the pewter shoulders, and there is the orange piping, and there are the segmented numbers, and there is the oversized flag decal that tends to make a player's head look small, and there are the red splotches, and the flags on the hips and the ship on the shoulder." The new uniforms are "not the classic look they wear" in Dallas, Pittsburgh or Green Bay, and as "uniforms go, you expect someone wearing one of these to try to land a triple Lutz" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 3/4).

THIS IS THE XFL? In DC, Cindy Boren wrote initial reaction to the new uniforms was "less than positive, with plenty of jokes about the XFL throwback look and this being a fashion wake-up call" (, 3/3).'s Paul Lukas wrote the Buccaneers "had a really distinctive color that was completely theirs" in the old shade of pewter, "and now, they appear to have watered it down." The "contrasting yokes on colored jerseys don't look cool -- they just look like the XFL." The uniform numbers are "a complete disaster and the undoing of the entire design concept" (, 3/3). FS1’s Brian Urlacher: “It reminds me of the XFL. That’s what came to my mind when I saw it.” FS1's Ryan Nece, who played for the Bucs, said, "We all remember the old creamsicle uniforms. It’s an upgrade from there, but this uniform, I am just not a fan. I hate it.” Nece added, “They are trying too hard” ("Fox Football Daily," FS1, 3/3). FS1's Ephraim Salaam: "That looks like an Arena League football team" ("Fox Sports Live," FS1, 3/4). ESPN's Bomani Jones: "Apparently they're moving out of Raymond James Stadium and into an arena, because that's the league that wears those." He added, "Different is not an excuse for ugly, and those are just kind of ugly" ("Highly Questionable," ESPN2, 3/3). ESPN's Keith Olbermann said the jerseys are "enshrined forever among the gridiron gladiators paying tribute to the great tradition of the digital alarm clock" ("Olbermann," ESPN2, 3/3). CBS' Doug Gottlieb said, “They’re awful. There was nothing wrong with the old Tampa Bay Buccaneers uniforms." He added, "I could make a better uniform than that. ... I’m very surprised that Nike made such a poor uniform” ("Lead Off," CBS Sports Network, 3/3). ESPN's Michael Wilbon gave the uniforms an "F" grade and called them "hideous." Wilbon: "This is not even creatively hideous, like the University of Maryland uniforms from Under Armour. ... This is just pathetically, weakly awful" ("PTI," ESPN, 3/3).

LOOK WORTHY OF THE TEAM: In Tampa, Chris Wilkerson writes the new uniforms make the Buccaneers "one of those franchises willing to look modern instead of, frankly, stuck." While they are not "as out there" as the jerseys worn by either the Univ. of Oregon or Univ. of Maryland, they set the Buccaneers "apart in the NFL." That is a "good thing for a team that has been mediocre for the past few years." Wilkerson: "The Bucs are not the Chicago Bears or the Pittsburgh Steelers. We just don't have that kind of tradition here. Those teams stick with the same look year after year and it works for them. That's not us. We are different." Team officials had been "going through the redesign process for about two years with the NFL and Nike" (, 3/4).

APPEALING TO A YOUNGER GENERATION: ESPN's Mike Golic asked, "Who are they trying to appeal to? They’re trying to get them to sell off the shelves. And if the younger generation likes them, mom and dad are going to buy them.” ESPN's Mike Greenberg noted he heard yesterday a "million different people criticizing them, and I heard almost no positive reaction on the air, anywhere.” However, he said, "This isn’t a uniform; this is like a video game. That’s what these kids do, they play video games. They love it. … Younger people, I think, love these uniforms.” Greenberg added, “The reason teams get new jerseys is to sell new jerseys” (“Mike & Mike,” ESPN Radio, 3/4).

 Nike said that it "wants to keep innovating with NFL uniforms, and other teams are interested." Nike Football VP & Creative Dir Todd Van Horne said, "What we’re interested in is finding what is completely unique about each and every team that we work with." He added that other teams also have "shown interest in working with Nike to redesign their uniforms, although he did not say which teams or when the next new uniforms may be unveiled." PRO FOOTBALL TALK's Michael David Smith noted jersey sales "often increase after uniforms are redesigned, and for that reason alone it’s likely that several other teams will work with Nike on developing new uniforms" (, 3/3).

Liberty Media, which owns the Braves, on Friday reported that team revenue increased by $36M last year, a 16% "boost over the previous year," according to Tim Tucker of the ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION. Liberty in a financial filing said that the team’s "adjusted operating income (revenue less expenses) before depreciation and amortization also increased significantly" in '13 -- by $20M. Liberty did "not disclose the Braves’ total revenue or operating income for 2013." Liberty attributed the Braves’ revenue increase last year to "broadcast rights issues -- an apparent reference to moving 45 games from Peachtree TV to Fox Sports South and SportSouth -- as well as 'slightly greater fan attendance and slightly higher average prices per ticket and concession spend per turnstile'” (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 3/1).

KEEPING THE CORE: The Braves recently signed extensions with 1B Freddie Freeman, RF Jason Heyward, SS Andrelton Simmons, and Ps Craig Kimbrel and Julio Teheran, and in N.Y., Tyler Kepner writes giving long-term contracts to "proven young players is smart business." However, the "promise of a new park made the deals easier to handle for the Braves, a franchise that has only twice exceeded" $100M in payroll. Braves President John Schuerholz: "It didn't motivate us to do it, but it was comforting to know that while we were doing it, we had this coming on the horizon." The Braves' revised TV deal last year "substantially raised the team's broadcast revenue," but Schuerholz said that it only moved the team "to the middle of the pack" in MLB (N.Y. TIMES, 3/4). In DC, Adam Kilgore notes the Braves’ "rapid-fire deal-making as spring training began ... surprised not only the baseball world but also those inside the organization by signing all five targeted players." In all, the Braves committed $280.7M for 27 seasons, "all of them prime years." As the Braves showed, the "best method of securing talent can be locking up players before they’re eligible for arbitration" (WASHINGTON POST, 3/4).

NHL Panthers Exec VP & Senior Advisor to the Owner Rory Babich yesterday became CEO & President and will work with Exec VP & GM of Hockey Operations Dale Tallon "on both the hockey and business side of the organization," according to George Richards of the MIAMI HERALD. Both Babich and Tallon yesterday were "named alternate governors of the franchise" after Panthers President Michael Yormark "left the organization" for Roc Nation. Tallon and Babich have "been working together" since team Owner Vinnie Viola and Vice Chair & Partner Douglas Cifu "took over the organization." Since Yormark joined the franchise in '03, the Panthers "made the playoffs once," although the BB&T Center "became a top entertainment venue and helped keep the hockey team financially afloat." Yormark said of his departure, "I’ve been here 11 years. I’ve had a lot of opportunities come my way during that period of time. But I’ve done everything I can do here." Richards notes Yormark's departure "didn't come as a complete surprise as rumors had been circulating since last month following his appearance at a Broward County Board of Commissioners workshop in which the Panthers [requested] to restructure their contract and lessen (or completely erase) their financial obligation for use of the Sunrise arena." Yormark has "been at the forefront of the team’s dealings with the county over the past decade and secured funding" last summer for a $4.2M scoreboard and video command center. Babich will "join Cifu in working with the county as Yormark moves on" (MIAMI HERALD, 3/4).

NOT-SO-PERFECT TIMING: In Ft. Lauderdale, Wallman & Fialkov write it is "yet to be known" whether Yormark's departure will "set back the team's request for help" from Broward County. Yormark and county officials said that they "hoped it wouldn't." Yormark said, "Timing stinks. I had to make this decision in the best interest of my career and my family" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 3/4).

The Sabres and Pat LaFontaine, who resigned as the team's President of Hockey Operations on Saturday night, have settled the terms of his multiyear deal, according to Sportsnet's Nick Kypreos. LaFontaine also reportedly signed a non-disclosure agreement, so fans "won't be hearing from Pat anytime soon" (, 3/3). Sabres interim head coach Ted Nolan yesterday said that he has "not yet talked" with GM Tim Murray about "the contract extension that is on the table." Nolan added there is "no deadline" to decide on the multiyear contract. In Buffalo, John Vogl writes things are "too tumultuous" right now to make a decision (BUFFALO NEWS, 3/4). Also in Buffalo, Bucky Gleason writes, "I would imagine a growing number of fans still need a few answers before investing any more time, money and energy in a franchise that continues to insult their intelligence." Sabres President Ted Black "saying there was no discord between Pat LaFontaine and the front office was absurd." Black made "a lame, embarrassing attempt to con the public into thinking it was an amicable divorce." Gleason: "Does he really think people are that stupid? ... I’m positive Black is either lying about the front office or grossly out of touch with his own organization." People are "losing faith" in him and Owner Terry Pegula "by the day" (BUFFALO NEWS, 3/4).

PEGULA'S REPUTATION CONTINUES TO FALL: The GLOBE & MAIL's David Shoalts writes if there was a "trophy for worst owner in professional sports, Terry Pegula would have that thing locked down tighter than the Buffalo Sabres’ grip on last place in the NHL." After the "latest shocker" to hit the Sabres, Pegula can "take his place on the dishonour roll." The only thing "clear in the murky situation surrounding the most dysfunctional franchise in the NHL is that most of the blame can be laid at Pegula’s doorstep" (GLOBE & MAIL, 3/4).

Several MLS teams this week are unveiling new kits for the '14 season, which begins Saturday, and the Dynamo last night made public their "secondary uniform, which is predominantly white," according to Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE. The V-neck jersey features the team crest "on the left breast, light blue and orange on the neckline, the U.S. flag on the left sleeve and the Texas flag on the left side at the bottom of the jersey." Dynamo President of Business Operations Chris Canetti said, "We're on a cycle where the orange jersey is going to change every two years. Next season, we'll have a new orange. The secondary will now alternate every two years. Every year, fans will have an opportunity to see a new uniform unveiled. ... In the future, we may look to get more daring and creative, but at this time we chose to stay with white as our primary color of our secondary versus any other unique color. I think the soccer purists and traditionalists are really going to like it." Ortiz notes the socks are "white with eight stripes clustered closely from the top of the ankle up to a few inches below the knee" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 3/4).

A ROSE IS A ROSE: In Portland, Jamie Goldberg reports the Timbers "unveiled their new secondary and third jerseys to fans" at a public event last night. The secondary jersey "has red sleeves and features a gradient effect, fading from black at the top of the jersey to red at the bottom." It also features a "metallic black and red Timbers crest on the left chest." The kit includes "matching red shorts" and also "features red socks that read, 'Rose City.'"  The Timbers' third jersey is a dark green color "with gold lettering and matching green shorts." The jersey "features the slogan, 'No Pity in the Rose City,' in the neck tape." The kit also includes "green socks with gold stripes." The Timbers for the event "set up a runway in the center of the venue and held a fashion show where each player strutted down the platform." A few Timbers players and season-ticket holders also "walked the runway with brand new 2014 merchandise." Timbers D Michael Harrington "modeled a Timbers cap and blue Timbers t-shirt" (Portland OREGONIAN, 3/4).

PITCH PERFECT: In Seattle, Joshua Mayers noted the Sounders' third jersey is called "Pitch Black" and includes "radiant green trim, shorts and socks." The Pitch Black jerseys will "include the 40th Anniversary logo," commemorating the history of professional soccer in Seattle, and an "iconic band on the back of the jersey, above the players name and number, which represents motion in a salute to the World Cup and Brazilian influence." The club's primary "Rave Green jersey and secondary Cascade Shale jersey will remain the same this season" (, 3/3).

KEEPING THINGS SIMILAR: SOCCER BY IVES' Dan Karell reported the Galaxy's new uniform "looks nearly identical to last season’s home uniform, a white shirt with a blue sash diagonally across the uniform." One difference is that the sash is "made of 11 separate lines, which the Galaxy say signify the starting eleven and the eleven facets of their club" (, 3/3).

Seahawks QB Russell Wilson arrived at MLB Rangers camp on Sunday and turned "what could've been a hokey event into a worthwhile spring-training visit," according to Jerry Brewer of the SEATTLE TIMES. Wilson on Sunday night attended and "spoke for about 20 minutes at a team banquet for players, sponsors and suite holders in Scottsdale." He then arrived at the ballpark at 6:20am MT yesterday, "mingled with members of the Rangers organization and even participated in an early-morning session of defensive drills before the team’s practice." Wilson took "ground balls and threw the baseball," but he "didn’t hit, and he sat in the dugout and watched the Rangers’ Cactus League game" against the Indians. Wilson had "promised the Seahawks he would 'be smart' and not overextend himself" (SEATTLE TIMES, 3/4). ESPN DALLAS' Richard Durrett wrote it was for days like yesterday that the Rangers took Wilson in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft in December and "paid $12,000 to grab him" from the Rockies. The Rangers drafted someone "who likely wasn't going to play both sports, or give up his job as an NFL quarterback to play baseball again." But they "hoped he would want to come to spring training." The Rangers wanted "a young player -- Wilson is 25 -- who was at the top of his profession to talk with the club’s prospects about what it takes to be successful" (, 3/3). In Dallas, Evan Grant writes the Rangers brought Wilson in as "a living, breathing example of what every more expensive motivational speaker has ever preached to sports teams." Wilson will "almost certainly never take an at-bat in Texas, but if one player -- young or old -- absorbed what he had to offer, the Rangers may get huge returns on their $12,000 investment" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 3/4).

BRINGING THE SPOTLIGHT: USA TODAY's Bob Nightengale reports Wilson's appearance "drew 75 reporters and eight TV crews" to yesterday's game, with ESPN, NFL Network and MLB Network "angling for a slice of his crossover appeal." Rangers President of Baseball Operations & GM Jon Daniels joked, "Now, if we can just get Leonardo DiCaprio and Justin Timberlake out here, we can take it to another level." Nightengale notes the souvenir shop at Surprise Stadium "sold out of the $30 Wilson T-shirts in 10 minutes, and by the end of the game only a few $125 Wilson jerseys remained." Wilson said of his baseball opportunity, "It's a great sport, a timeless sport. It's relaxing, it's fun. It's one of those things in the African-American community I wish that they would push more. Hopefully I can encourage people to do that" (USA TODAY, 3/4).

Basketball HOFer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said that he has met with Bucks Owner Herb Kohl and "would be interested in taking an ownership role in an NBA team, but has not broached the topic of a Bucks investment with Kohl," according to Rich Kirchen of the MILWAUKEE BUSINESS JOURNAL. Abdul-Jabbar, who appeared at last night's Jazz-Bucks game, said, "Being involved in the business of basketball is something I wouldn’t shy away from. But it would have to be a good situation for me. It would depend totally on what the situation was. ... Something where I had some equity in the team, so that what I would get [is] an opportunity to benefit from it." He said that if he does invest in an NBA team, he "would want to play a role in setting a team’s direction." Abdul-Jabbar said of Kohl, "He’s trying to run it the right way. They just haven’t been able to get the talented people they need to be more successful" (, 3/3). Abdul-Jabbar began his playing career in Milwaukee, and he said of possible return to the Bucks, "If I get a call, I will definitely offer my services. There's nothing on the table right now. A couple of people have asked me and if I had the chance to be part of this franchise again, I would take it." He added, "'They have to get their business model right. I hope that the Bucks are able to sort it all out and get on a good footing. You can't win it all unless you get the right players and you can't get the right players unless you're really in a good position as a business" (AP, 3/4).

SOMETHING OTHER THAN AN OWNERSHIP ROLE? In Milwaukee, Matt Velazquez writes Abdul-Jabbar's statements "made it sound as if he is interested in a future partnership with the Bucks, but not as an investor." Abdul-Jabbar: "I've seen what Larry Bird did down in Indianapolis. He's doing great. He knows how to pick the guys; they know how to play together. ... I would hope that I would get a chance to do some of that and be a valuable asset in terms of the think tank that has to identify talent" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 3/4).