Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones met with players and coaches yesterday and informed them that his stance on protesting during the national anthem was "rooted in a desire to play the bad guy and deflect attention from the players," according to a source cited by Todd Archer of ESPN.com. The source said that Jones sought to "ensure that players also saw the bigger picture regarding the business side of the situation, including concerns over TV ratings and sponsors." Some Cowboys players were "frustrated" by Jones' recent comments in which he threatened to bench players who disrespected the flag. The source said one Cowboys player said the team had a "better feeling for Jones' comments, because at first he wondered if Jones had turned against them." Archer noted Jones has been "outspoken regarding his stance that players must 'not disrespect the flag' and that they must stand for the anthem." Cowboys K and player rep Dan Bailey said that there have been "numerous conference calls with the players' association regarding the situation." He added that the team's focus "did not appear to be affected" yesterday (ESPN.com, 10/11). Bailey: "The main focus is to establish some sort of baseline where you can come together and agree on something in principle. It doesn’t mean that your individual views are right or wrong." In Ft. Worth, Clarence Hill Jr. cites sources as saying that players yesterday were able to "air their frustrations" regarding Jones’ comment. The sources added that the talk with Jones came after an initial discussion "happened during a team meeting for normal game review" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 10/12). Cowboys QB Dak Prescott yesterday spoke after a promotional event for NFL's Play Football and Campbell's Chunky Soup and said that the team "'ironed out' what it needed to in the meeting with Jones" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 10/12).
STAYING ON MESSAGE: THE MMQB's Albert Breer reports Jones' message to the team was "consistent with who Jones has always been: the ultimate businessman and deal broker." He explained "how far the league has come as a money-making entity since he bought the team 28 years ago, and emphasized that more 90% of the audience driving that income never attends a single game, watching instead on TV." Jones indicated that President Trump is "targeting that audience, and continuing the fight, as he sees it, will only make things worse." He then "advocated different ways that the league and players could work together to create social change." One idea was to use NFL Network and league’s broadcast partners to "promote the messages players are trying to send" (SI.com, 10/12).
LOOKING AHEAD: YAHOO SPORTS' Frank Schwab wrote it is "hard to deny" that this is the type of "distraction the Cowboys don’t really need." The team has a bye this week, which will "let any bad feelings calm down," though the "issue isn’t going away." Jones "brought this upon himself and the team." It could be a "very interesting Week 7 for the players and the owner'" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 10/11). ESPN's Dan Le Batard said, "I don't think it's a coincidence that Jerry Jones chose right before the bye week to do some of this stuff so that some of this can simmer down and cool off" ("Highly Questionable," ESPN, 10/11). ESPN's Adam Schefter: "Jerry Jones and the Cowboys are fortunate in that they are on a bye because we're not going to see how it plays out this week before we get these discussions in New York City on Tuesday and Wednesday" ("Mike & Mike," ESPN Radio, 10/12).
The Red Sox are "officially" President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski's team after the club fired manager John Farrell yesterday, according to Sean McAdam of BOSTON SPORTS JOURNAL. It was Dombrowski's call to fire Farrell and it will be "his call to choose his replacement." Some input "will be contributed" by both Owner John Henry and President & CEO Sam Kennedy, but ultimately the next manager will be "selected by Dombrowski." A source said that while Henry had "long been a backer of Farrell's, that support began to waver this season as the team underperformed for stretches." The Red Sox were eliminated from the playoffs this week by the Astros in a four-game ALDS. Both Henry and Kennedy "came to decide that if Dombrowski wanted to make a change, his request had to be honored." Dombrowski's title allows him to "make decisions" like this, and to do otherwise "would be tantamount to undercutting" him (BOSTONSPORTSJOURNAL.com, 10/11). In Boston, Alex Speier reports the decision to fire Farrell was "reached by Dombrowski after consultations with his baseball operations department." Henry and Red Sox Chair Tom Werner were then "apprised of the recommendation and accepted it." Werner "suggested that the decision represented Dombrowski’s desire to see change rather than a reflection on the manager." He said, "Change is a part of baseball. Change is a part of life. This is obviously something Dave thought would benefit the organization" (BOSTON GLOBE, 10/12).
ALL EYES ON DOMBROWSKI: The Boston Globe's Dan Shaughnessy said ownership will "let Dombrowski hire his guy" as Farrell's replacement. This is Dombrowski's third year with the team and he is a "high profile, high paid GM boss -- they’re going to let him hire his manager." Shaughnessy: "They will make due diligence and they’re going to bring it minority candidates, which they should, and there are good ones out there” (“High Heat,” MLB Network, 10/11). NBC SPORTS BOSTON's Evan Drellich wrote what the next manager of the Red Sox will prove is "whether Dombrowski himself was really the right hire" and whether he "actually understands what it takes" to succeed in Boston (NBCSPORTS.com, 10/11).
BUSINESS DECISION? In Boston, Dan Shaughnessy in a front-page piece writes when the "big-payroll, top-talent Red Sox flopped badly in the playoffs for the second straight October, there was little question Farrell would be sacrificed by a front office ever-focused on optics" and TV ratings, which were down 15% this season. A ticket-price increase has "already been announced for next season." The Red Sox "needed to do something" after losing to the Astros, so they "gave fans a feel-good moment by firing the manager" (BOSTON GLOBE, 10/12). ESPN's Tim Kurkjian noted the "shelf life of manager of the Red Sox is a really short one compared to managers of other teams." Kurkjian: "When ownership looks around and says, ‘The fans here don't like the manager very much,’ that sometimes can be a reason to get rid of the manager. It’s a terrible reason, but that is the reality of Boston. The fans there are so sophisticated, they demand so much. When you are not following through with it, they are going to clamor, ‘We need somebody else,’ and they listen to the fans on this” (“Mike & Mike,” ESPN Radio, 10/12).
Rockets Owner Tilman Fertitta said that the franchise "will be a family business, with his children one day to take over." Fertitta added that he is "too old at 60 to gain the expertise to take over the basketball decision-making." Pointing to his oldest sons Michael and Patrick, Fertitta said that the two "will begin those studies." In Houston, Jonathan Feigen notes they will "not begin telling" Rockets GM Daryl Morey "who to select on draft night" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 10/12).
ON TO THE NEXT ONE: In Detroit, Tony Paul notes the U.S Patent & Trademark Office has "rejected the request" by Pistons Owner Tom Gores and Cavaliers Owner Dan Gilbert to "secure the trademark rights to 'Detroit City Soccer Club.'" The decision was "made because 'Detroit City Soccer Club' is too similar to 'Detroit City Football Club.'" Gores and Gilbert will "learn in December if they are getting one of the next two MLS expansion franchises" (DETROIT NEWS, 10/12).
DID YOU REGISTER TO VOTE? In Atlanta, Phil Hudson noted the Hawks organization "partnered with the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE) to register its players and staff to vote and encourage them to spread the important message of voting to their fans" during the team's media day Sept. 25. Before the two registration sessions with the Hawks players and staff, RISE "completed voter registration events with teams" including the Falcons, Dolphins and Nets (BIZJOURNALS.com, 10/10).
GIVING CONSIDERATIONS: The AP's Jim Salter noted U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) yesterday "asked the Department of Homeland Security to give 'full consideration'" to the MLB Cardinals' request for certification that would "give the team certain legal protections in the event of a terrorist attack at Busch Stadium." The Cardinals "applied in July for DHS certification under the Support Anti-Terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies Act, known as the Safety Act." The act is "aimed at encouraging businesses to develop anti-terrorism technologies and practices." In return, the act "places limits on lawsuits that could be filed if a terrorist attack occurs at their site" (AP, 10/11).