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Volume 24 No. 117

Leagues and Governing Bodies

Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones "called an ESPN report that he was holding up a five-year extension" for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell an "'exaggeration' and less than substantive," according to Clarence Hill Jr. of the FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM. Jones said, "All of that is without any substance at all. ... There are certainly exaggerations there. That’s not the way that works. I’ve always supported Roger and let’s just leave it at that." Hill notes Goodell was "reportedly close to an agreement on a five-year extension last month." But that was "before an angry Jones, an unofficial seventh member of the NFL’s six-man compensation committee, interjected himself." Jones "referred to himself as an 'ombudsman' to the group." Jones is "not happy about the NFL’s handling of 13-month investigation" of Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott for allegedly committing domestic violence. A source said that Jones was originally told there "would be no suspension." Jones said that he has always been "one of his biggest supporters" of Goodell. He also said that the Elliott situation is "separate from the contract negotiations with Goodell" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 9/18). Falcons Owner and Compensation Committee Chair Arthur Blank said of Jones' impact on Goodell's extension, "The speculation is incorrect. He is not impeding it. I got a note from him the other day. He’s comfortable with where we are." THE MMQB's Peter King: "Let’s see if some owners leak out who opposes a rich extension. My gut feeling: the Goodell extension gets done by the end of the year" (MMQB.SI.com, 9/18).

INITIAL REPORT: ESPN's Chris Mortensen in the original report cited a source as saying that Jones "believes he’s representing the other owners and he believes this thing needs a lot of discussion before they just give him a contract." He feels the financial aspect of the deal needs a "big reduction." Goodell has made almost $200M as commissioner since '06 and Jones "wants something cut." Mortensen: "He thinks other owners are on board with him." ESPN's Adam Schefter noted Goodell's extension was first reported by SportsBusiness Journal last month and said, "Now we're a month later and as one person said, and I quote, 'If not for Jerry, this deal would be done.'" ESPN's Louis Riddick: "This is a good discussion to have. $200 million. That's a lot of money for the performance that we all know has been actually put forth so far"  (“Sunday NFL Countdown,” ESPN, 9/17).  A source said that Jones is joined by Texans Owner and Compensation Committee member Bob McNair in "calling for a dramatic restructuring of Goodell's contract." But another source said, "Jerry's not saying, 'Don't hire Roger.' He's saying, 'I hate this [proposed] deal; redo it.'" In addition to Blank and McNair, the Compensation Committee includes Chiefs Chair & CEO Clark Hunt, Patriots Owner Robert Kraft, Giants President & CEO John Mara and Steelers President Art Rooney II (ESPN.com, 9/17). 

DOLLARS & SENSE: ESPN's Mike Golic said he did not "put a lot in" the speculation that Goodell will not sign a new deal. He said, "You mean Roger Goodell is not going to sign his extension to be the commissioner? I don't think there is any shot of that. ... This is basically going to be, he’s going to make less. He can have incentives to make more, but he’s probably not going to make $44 million" ("Mike & Mike, ESPN Radio, 9/18). NBC's Mike Florio: "ESPN grossly overstated the extent that Jerry Jones is representing the interest of other owners. I think it’s Jerry on his own, and the rest of the owners want to get this done. Whether this was a leverage play by Jerry Jones while the Ezekiel Elliott case was pending, whatever the case may be, it hasn’t worked, and I think Jones is ready to cry uncle and go along" ("PFT," NBCSN, 9/18).

TWITTER REAX: The Ringer's Bill Simmons tweeted: "I've never loved Jerry Jones more." ESPN's Michelle Beadle: "I'm not prepared for a world in which Jerry Jones and I agree on something. This calls for a nap." Barstool Sports' Dave Portnoy: "I'm so conflicted on Jerry Jones supposedly trying to take down @nflcommish Same dude who led the Brady mob." Yahoo Sports' Ben Rohrbach: "So, Jerry Jones was OK with Goodell suspending someone over PSI, but not cool with him suspending over alleged domestic violence? Good stuff."

NFL player leaders "could begin voting" as soon as tomorrow on whether to retain NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith "without allowing challengers for the position," according to sources cited by Mark Maske of the WASHINGTON POST. The vote is to be "taken among players serving on a 14-member selection committee, under voting procedures established" by the NFLPA following Smith's most recent reelection in '15. It is "not known when the process will be completed and Smith's status will be resolved, given that it could take more than one round of voting to determine that, or what the NFLPA will announce publicly regarding the voting results." If all 14 members "vote to keep Smith as executive director, he will be retained followed by the players' ruling executive committee negotiating a new contract with him." If seven to 13 members vote to keep Smith, the issue "moves before the players' team-by-team union representatives." If "at least two-thirds of those player reps vote to retain Smith, he keeps the job and the executive committee works out a new contract with him." If six or fewer members of the 14-person selection committee vote to retain Smith, the job "will be declared open." That same outcome "will occur if the matter goes to the team-by-team player reps and Smith fails to secure the necessary two-thirds support." If the job is "declared open, the selection committee will then identify two to four candidates for an election to be held in March via a majority vote of the player reps." Smith's current three-year term "ends in March." He has held the job since '09 and "led the players through a lockout in advance" in '11. DC-based attorney Cyrus Mehri has already "announced his intention to run against Smith" (WASHINGTON POST, 9/17).

American driver Josef Newgarden’s championship in the Verizon IndyCar Series is important because it "serves as a pivot-point in the long history of the sport," as he "checks two important items off IndyCar’s list -- he’s young AND he’s home-grown," according to Bruce Martin of AUTOWEEK. For years, one of the knocks on IndyCar is the U.S. had "left it behind," as big-name U.S. drivers were "more interested in NASCAR." With more "street and road courses, IndyCar was a sport with drivers from Europe and South America." Newgarden is the first U.S. champ since Ryan Hunter-Reay in '12, and before that it was Sam Hornish Jr. in '06. Newgarden: "I'll carry the flag happily. I love the IndyCar Series. I think it's got the whole world in front of it. It can go so many good ways. I'll do the best that I can to help spread the word and show people how great this sport is." Martin writes as a 26-year-old who "understands social media and has an engaging personality," Newgarden "just might be the driver that can create interest from the 'Millennial Generation.'" Penske Racing President Tim Cindric said, "We need to figure out ways off the race track to continue to build these personalities because they're there" (AUTOWEEK.com, 9/18). SPORTSNET.ca's Jonathan Brazeau wrote "no longer a rising star, Newgarden is now the star of the series." His win also marks the 15th IndyCar title for Roger Penske, but what makes this one special is just how "quickly Newgarden has risen to the top in his first season" with Penske Racing (SPORTSNET.ca, 9/17).

DROVE MY CHEVY TO THE LEVEE: The AP's Jenna Fryer noted Newgarden's win means that Chevrolet drivers have "won every championship but one since the engine-supplier returned to IndyCar" in '12, and the brand has "beaten Honda every year for the manufacturer championship" (AP, 9/17).

The NBA competition committee has "recommended the league proposals on draft lottery reform and guidelines for the resting of players" to the BOG for final approval, according to sources cited by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com. The proposed guidelines for resting players will "encourage teams to sit healthy players for home rather than away games, and discourage the practice during nationally televised games." The BOG will "vote on instituting the changes" at a meeting in N.Y. on Sept. 28. The plan to change the Draft Lottery will "need a three-quarters majority to pass into legislation," while the recommendation on resting players "needs a simple majority." Sources said that the NBA's proposed changes to the system would begin in '19 and include a "smoothing-out of odds among the league's worst teams." For example, the three worst teams currently have a 25%, 19.9% and 15.6% chance of winning the No. 1 overall pick, respectively. Sources said that under the new plan, those teams would each have a 14% chance, and the "odds for ensuing teams would drop incrementally by a percentage point or two" (ESPN.com, 9/16).

SILVER LINING
: Wojnarowski wrote NBA Commissioner Adam Silver will be "aggressive in making sure he gets the simple majority of the owners' votes needed to fine teams for sitting healthy star players in national television games or multiple healthy starters in regular-season games, and for failing to make a star player sitting out visually accessible to fans on the bench." The resting rules have been "met with little resistance." Silver has "mostly sold it to owners as an economic issue" and has "warned that the NBA's future revenues and growth are directly tied to solving the resting issue" (ESPN.com, 9/15). YAHOO SPORTS' Ben Rohrbach noted critics will "surely argue that reform does little to de-incentivize tanking to a top-three spot, and the increased odds lower in the lottery could actually incentivize borderline playoff teams to drop out of contention." But by "coupling lottery reform with penalties for resting starters," Silver can "better manage the tanking problem" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 9/15).