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Volume 24 No. 114

Leagues and Governing Bodies

Seven former NFL players objected to the revised class-action concussion settlement, arguing in a federal court motion yesterday that the new deal could actually result in less money paid to players than the old one. The NFL and class counsel for thousands of former players last month re-filed the proposed settlement with the federal court, removing the monetary cap that had set $675M as the maximum amount available to players. A federal judge had questioned whether $675M was enough. The new settlement, though, also included new assessment and appeal provisions that the seven players in their filing contend are onerous. “Given the limitations on who qualifies for compensation and the complex, one-sided process for determining that, it is likely the settlement will cost the NFL less than $765 million,” the motion, which was filed Wednesday, stated. In addition to the $675M being uncapped, the settlement includes $90M for assessments and research. “To receive any recovery, class members must navigate a complex and burdensome administrative process that appears designed to decrease the cost to the NFL,” the motion said. “This complex procedural framework is a transparent attempt to minimize the cost of the settlement to the NFL -- a consideration of tremendous importance now that the so-called 'cap has been lifted.’” The seven players -- Roderick Cartwright, Sean Considine, Alan Faneca, Ben Hamilton, Sean Morey, Jeff Rohrer and Robert Royal -- said they show signs of CTE. The settlement only awards money for CTE post mortem, and only for cases before the settlement is preliminarily approved. “That limitation on CTE compensation is remarkable,” the motion said. The class counsel has said previously that symptoms of CTE are covered, though the seven outline several symptoms in their 58-page motion that they contend are not. The motion also notes that years spent playing in NFL Europe are now not eligible. The settlement awards players based on years in the league. Under the old settlement, years in NFL Europe counted, under the new proposed settlement, they do not.

MLS believes that the "unprecedented enthusiasm" for the U.S. team during the '14 FIFA World Cup is evidence the league "has come of age," according to Jérôme Rasetti of REUTERS. The U.S. lost to Belgium on Tuesday, and on the "same day, league officials celebrated in Orlando," where '15 MLS expansion club Orlando City SC introduced Brazil MF Kaka. Both events "add to the growing evidence that soccer has finally secured more than just a foothold" in the U.S. MLS Commissioner Don Garber after the U.S. loss tweeted, "We proved to the world we are a soccer nation!" An average of six MLSers started in each World Cup game for the U.S., and Garber said, "We need to be a league of choice for the top players in the world, and that starts with being the league of choice for top American players." U.S. MF Michael Bradley and F Clint Dempsey "recently returned to play on American soil after successful European club ventures." MLS "has already earned a strong foreign contingent, including French superstar" and Red Bulls F Thierry Henry (REUTERS, 7/1). Kaka said that his belief in the future of MLS "clinched a difficult 11th-hour decision to make the move" to Orlando City from Italian Serie A club AC Milan. Kaka: "My expectation is that soccer is going to be the first sport in America." He added that he "wanted to help MLS become one of the five biggest leagues in the world and attract more international players." Kaka: "In Europe the players speak a lot to come to play in America. To other players I think I can show that the American league is a nice place to play" (REUTERS, 7/2). Kaka: "This is the right moment to come to MLS. I think the league is getting better every year, (improving) a lot, and I think the MLS will (have) a great, great future in soccer" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 7/3).

GROWING THE GAME: Garber, appearing Tuesday on CNBC's "Fast Money Halftime Report," said of whether this World Cup was a game changer for MLS, "It starts with having great players that are playing in our league performing in the World Cup." He added, "It's about connecting our players, our clubs, basically saying to all those fans, 'We're right here, all that passion and excitement at the World Cup is right here in your local MLS city.'" Garber said this World Cup "really captured the imagination of the country far more than it did" the last World Cup, despite the U.S. team losing both times in the round of 16. He said, "It's almost like a viral video. This thing just took off. ... It will get even bigger over the next four years." Garber: "We've got a lot of stuff that's there helping us along, and we just got to get the job done and be sure when this whole thing is over, we have more fans. We're not going to have 25 million people watching our games or anything close to that, but we better have more people watching our games, and we better have more people going to our games, or we might have to have some new people working in the league office and in our clubs" ("Mike & Mike," ESPN Radio, 7/3).

Professional tennis is "in the throws of a revolution," as young players like Gregor Dimitrov and Milos Raonic are "clearly fed up waiting for the older guys to go home," according to Martyn Herman of REUTERS. Dimitrov and Raonic both reached the Wimbledon semifinals for the first time, and the pair of 23-year-olds, along with 19-year-old and Wimbledon quarterfinalist Nick Kyrgios, are leading an "attack of the established inner circle" of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray. Those four players have won 35 of the last 37 grand slam titles, but Federer said it is "exciting for the game to see new faces." He added, "There's been a few guys knocking on the door now. I think it's good times in tennis. There's a lot of excitement." Djokovic said, "It's good. It gets more attention to new faces and to new waves of generation that is able to challenge the best and be contending for grand slam titles." Herman noted the influx of young stars is "not just in the men's game," Eugenie Bouchard and Simona Halep are both "tipped to start collecting grand slam silverware before too long." It would be "foolhardy to discount" successful veterans and grand slam winners like Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Li Na and Victoria Azarenka, but a "change is in the air" (REUTERS, 7/2). ESPN's Hannah Storm said it is a "fun time in men's tennis." Storm referenced Dimitrov and Raonic, saying, "A lot of these young guys that we've been looking at and saying, 'Hey, he's the next big thing,' we have a couple of them here in the semifinals." ESPN's Brad Gilbert said there is "absolutely no doubt" Dimitrov is the "most skillful and the most athletic" among him, Raonic and Kyrgios. However, Kyrgios "is the X factor." Gilbert said he hopes Kyrgios learns from fellow Australian Bernard Tomic, who three years ago "got to the quarterfinals, and look where his career has gone and some of the decisions that he's made." Gilbert: "I'm hoping Kyrgios learns from this, trains a lot harder, gets stronger and his upside I think is a top-five player" ("Breakfast at Wimbledon," ESPN, 7/3).

: In DC, Liz Clarke wrote Bouchard is leading a "new generation of challengers" on the WTA Tour that has "closed the gap in terms of power and will-to-win" with the veteran contenders. Bouchard, Garbine Muguruza and Maidson Keys, among others, have "injected a dose of uncertainly into the women's game." Billie Jean King said, "This is the most exciting time in women's tennis that I can remember. ... All these young kids are starting to really come through now. There's a buzz this year [at Wimbledon] -- a vibe around the grounds that we've not had for a while" (WASHINGTON POST, 7/1). FS1's Andy Roddick said Bouchard is a "very attractive, well-spoken young woman," and if she wins Wimbledon, Madison Avenue "will love her." FS1's Dan O'Toole called Bouchard a "star in the making" ("Fox Sports Live," FS1, 7/3).