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Volume 24 No. 177

People and Pop Culture

Lockhart in a memo to staff said he is leaving to commentate on politics and teach
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

NFL Exec VP/Communications JOE LOCKHART is stepping down after two years on the job and the league has hired Korn Ferry to conduct a search for his replacement. He will stay on through Super Bowl LII. Lockhart in a note to his staff wrote he is leaving to spend time commentating on politics and to teach. He also has young children. Lockhart, who was a former Clinton White House press secretary, has been a lightning rod for some owners who feel the league has become too political, especially in its tolerant reaction to players kneeling to protest injustice during the national anthem. Cowboys Owner JERRY JONES last year took aim at NFL Commissioner ROGER GOODELL and his contract renewal. That effort failed, but those close to him said he would set his eyes on what he considered bloat at the league office. It is unclear if Lockhart’s resignation is at all tied to that, but he is not expected to be the last senior member of Goodell’s staff to depart (Daniel Kaplan, Staff Writer). In DC, Mark Maske noted it is "not immediately clear what the NFL will do to replace him." Sources said that Lockhart was "not being forced out," but his exit comes after a "turbulent" season in '17 (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 1/18).

STEERING THE CONVERSATION: AXIOS' Mike Allen cites sources as saying that Lockhart "came in to shake things up during a time when the outside world was as much a part of the conversation in the pro football world as what happened on the field." Lockhart during his time began a "conference call with NFL beat writers that often drives conversation in the sport." The 35-40 reporters on the call would often live-tweet what was being said, getting the NFL's "point of view out to dozens of TV and social media pundits" (AXIOS.com, 1/19).

Rockets G CHRIS PAUL has sold his home in the Woodland Hills neighborhood of L.A. for $1.95M. Paul "bought the property four years ago" for $1.775M. The Mediterranean-style house is "set behind fences and gates on half an acre of grounds" and has "five bedrooms, six bathrooms and more than 6,400 square feet of living space." The sale is Paul's second in L.A. County since he was "traded by the Clippers to the Rockets last year." In September he sold a "roughly 12,200-square-foot mansion in a gated Bel-Air neighborhood" for $8.7M (LATIMES.com, 1/16)....Suns GM RYAN MCDONOUGH purchased a "territorial/Santa Fe-style" mansion in the Finisterre community of Paradise Valley, Ariz., for $2.22M. The 7,200-square-foot remodeled house has "four bedrooms and six bathrooms." The home opens with an "arrival courtyard with custom iron gates and fireplaces throughout the entire home" (AZCENTRAL.com, 1/15)....Pelicans F SOLOMON HILL has bought a contemporary home in the Palms neighborhood of L.A. for $2.3M. The 3,481-square-foot house, built in '14, has "white oak floors and an abundance of open-plan living space." The floor plan includes "four bedrooms and five bathrooms" (LATIMES.com, 1/12).

Riddick plans to take in Sunday's games alongside his ESPN colleagues
Photo: ESPN IMAGES

It is no secret ESPN NFL analyst LOUIS RIDDICK still lives and breathes the football life five years after parting ways with the Eagles' front office. Since then he has developed into one of the net’s signature voices in the sport, even landing a couple GM interviews along the way. Able to shed light on on-field matchups, draft/scouting perspectives and the coaching carousel, Riddick appears on many of ESPN’s NFL programs and has a weekly spot on SCOTT VAN PELT’s midnight ET "SportsCenter." But how exactly does the admitted film-junkie take in the AFC and NFC Championship games? Riddick took THE DAILY behind the curtain for his weekend plans ahead of Jaguars-Pats and Vikings-Eagles this Sunday.

BRISTOL VIEWING: Fridays for me are when I typically tape the “NFL Matchup” show with GREG COSELL and then Saturday is my travel day where I fly out of Philadelphia up to Bristol. Sunday obviously is the highlight of it all. We’ll watch the games up at ESPN together like we always do throughout the season. We have a big board room where we have what seems like a 100ft-by-100ft screen along with 12 other smaller options. It’s a sweet setup and we’re in there enjoying some food throughout the day. It’ll be pretty much everyone that’s involved with our NFL coverage in some way, from “Countdown” producers to reporters and on-air talent. CHRIS MORTENSEN, ADAM SCHEFTER, RYAN CLARK just to name a few. Mortensen is my guy, his comic relief during those games is something you wouldn’t expect from a man as accomplished as he is. Everybody pretty much has their regular seat, I’m right in the front with the laptops and iPads to monitor the stats in real time. I don’t have any rituals exactly but I do like to have plenty of room around me. 

REAL STAKES: Watching games back with the Eagles was much different. Then you live and die with every point, every series, every timeout. It’s 3-and-a-half hours of being on edge. That is probably what I miss the most: knowing you’ll be judged at the end of the game by whether you won or lost. That’s why you play professional sports, the fact that they keep score. In this atmosphere, it’s just different. When the game is over, it’s over. You collect your notes and that’s it.

AWAY FROM THE GRIDIRON: I love to stay fit by hitting the gym. It’s good for the mind and the body, especially when you’re getting a little bit up there in age. You have to make sure you take care of yourself. I love to read about leadership in my free time, and to dine out. Del Friscos and Capital Grille are my two go-to’s in Philadelphia. It doesn’t get any better than those atmospheres. Chicago is one of my favorite cities -- its got one of the best-looking skylines coming in. Once back when I was scouting I drove in there in a snowstorm and I’ll never forget it. I also love Atlanta, and I would love to move back down there in time (Riddick spent two years with the Falcons in his playing days). South Florida is a favorite vacation spot as well. Some people can’t stand the humidity, but I love it. I am not a fan of the cold at all. 

CULTURE FITS: I always catch my kids watching “FAMILY FEUD” with STEVE HARVEY. That’s probably on the most in my house outside of football. Book-wise I’ll read anything sports-related. My favorite read is one by BILL WALSH called, “FINDING THE WINNING EDGE” with help from BRIAN BILLICK. It’s the Bible of football, with everything Walsh ever thought about the game. Practice schedules, front office plans, drafting and leadership – you can read that book 100 times and still miss something.

Know of someone you’d like to see featured in Weekend Plans? Shoot an email to tleary@sportsbusinessdaily.com.

The Seahawks named Wasserman Senior Manager of Brands LISA BREGMAN Dir of Marketing (THE DAILY)....U.K.-based soccer publisher Copa90 named Engine Group Exec Dir ED TURNER Chief Media Officer (THEDRUM.com, 1/17)....Ryan Sanders Sport Services promoted JAY KUDLA to Senior VP/Strategic Hospitality, GARRETT REDDEHASE to Senior VP/Turf Operations and KERRI JOHNSON to Senior VP/Accounting & Administration (THE DAILY)....The NHL Kings named BERGEN HOUSTON Account Exec for Partnership Activation (THE DAILY)....FAU will bame Senior Associate AD/Internal Operations BRIAN BATTLE interim AD. The news comes after AD PAT CHUN left for the same role at Washington State (PALMBEACHPOST.com, 1/18)....The Univ. of New Haven named former Browns coach CHRIS PALMER AD and promoted women's volleyball coach ROBIN SALTERS to Deputy AD and Senior Woman Administrator (UNH)....The CFL Toronto Argonauts named former Montreal Alouettes Assistant GM/Football Operations CATHERINE RAICHE Dir of Football Administration (CP, 1/18)....The Twins named former MLBer JIM KAAT Special Assistant (STARTRIBUNE.com, 1/18).


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Claredon's lawsuit alleges that she was assaulted during the '09-10 school year
Photo: NBAE/GETTY IMAGES

WNBA Dream G LAYSHIA CLAREDON "alleged in a civil lawsuit filed Wednesday that she was sexually assaulted by a Cal athletic department employee during her freshman year at the university." The lawsuit, filed in Alameda County Superior Court, claims that Assistant Dir for Student Services MOHAMED MUQTAR "invited Clarendon to his house" during the '09-10 school year, "opened the door while she was using the bathroom and assaulted her." Cal's athletic department said that it was "aware of the lawsuit and confirmed that Muqtar has been placed on paid leave" (USATODAY.com, 1/18).

MY MARIA: StubHub has aligned with TV and radio personality MARIA MENOUNOS to serve as the spokesperson for the ticket resale marketplace’s new “Playbook” feature for the upcoming Super Bowl LII. Playbook will provide a series of daily tips and information aimed at improving the event experience for attendees of the game. StubHub next week is releasing an augmented reality feature on its iOS mobile app that will offer immersive, 3D views of U.S. Bank Stadium. The efforts will help promote the company’s upcoming “StubHub Live: Field House,” a pregame event at Target Field for StubHub Super Bowl ticket buyers (Eric Fisher, Staff Writer).

I GO TO EXTREMESBILLY JOEL will perform at Citizens Bank Park on July 27 this summer, making him the first artist to perform five consecutive years at the Phillies ballpark. The number is also the most ever live performances by any artist in the venue's history. The Phillies will award Joel on the day of the performance with an honorary contract (Phillies).

CHARITY STRIPE: Blackhawks C JONATHAN TOEWS recently launched the Jonathan Toews Foundation and announced his "first partnership" with non-profit organization Green Bronx Machine, which "helps educate the community about healthy eating habits while caring for the environment." The two groups are "starting a new indoor agricultural initiative at Chicago Public Schools" (SUNTIMES.com, 1/16)....Clippers F BLAKE GRIFFIN and the L.A. Clippers Foundations have partnered with non-profit Vision To Learn and the L.A. Unified School District to provide free eye exams and glasses to every LAUSD student in need (Clippers).

NAMES: 76ers C JOEL EMBIID will star in the third season premiere of sports mockumentary “THE 5TH QUARTER.” The premiere, which will air on Verizon’s go90 platform, will also see ESPN’s KENNY MAYNE and Basketball HOFer JULIUS ERVING “make appearances in the 11-minute episode” (PHILLY.com, 1/18)....Comedian KEVIN HART, producer/singer PHARRELL WILLIAMS andN.E.R.D will headline the ’18 NBA All-Star Game entertainment Feb. 18 at Staples Center. Prior to the game, Hart and special guests will give an introduction to the teams. FERGIE will sing the U.S. national anthem and rock band BARENAKED LADIES will sing the Canadian national anthem (NBA)....PRESIDENT OBAMA and PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH have become members of the Floridian Golf Club in Palm City, Fla. The club is owned by Astros Owner JIM CRANE (GOLFWEEK.com, 1/18).