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Volume 26 No. 207

Leagues and Governing Bodies

NFLers have "never been upset enough" to affect much change regarding guaranteed contracts, but now, one can "sense a change is coming," according to Omar Kelly of the South Florida SUN SENTINEL. The NFL CBA negotiated in '11 was a "farce." Only a "select few" players, mainly QBs, are "benefiting from the recent CBA, and that won't change until the workforce does something about it by uniting" NFLers who are "tired of risking injury, which is a certainty in this sport, and being compensated less than what they feel their contributions are worth to the biggest and most profitable sports league in America" (South Florida SUN SENTINEL, 10/3). THE RINGER's Kevin Clark noted NFLers "deserve to be paid fairly ... given what it does to their bodies." However, the "modern NFL rewards teams for doing the exact opposite." Clark: "A player’s goal is to land a lucrative second or third contract -- and the NFL does give those out -- but giving out as few of those as possible has become the quickest way for a team to build a contender" (THERINGER.com, 10/2). In San Antonio, Mike Finger writes the NFL's salary structure is "broken." Everybody "knows it but almost nobody cares, because the victims of the problem are rich athletes." Given a choice between "siding with the wealthy owners or the less-wealthy players, the public sides with the guys in the suits and the cufflinks almost every time" (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 10/3).

WHO'S THE BAD GUY HERE? In Pittsburgh, Mark Madden wrote Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell "got screwed by the franchise tag," but it is "part of the NFL CBA," which expires in '20. Next time, the NFLPA "needs to do a better job negotiating," and players "must be prepared to miss some paychecks, because shutting down the league is their only leverage" (TRIBLIVE.com, 10/2). In Seattle, Matt Calkins writes he will "rarely fault an NFL player for holding out for an extension." It is "understandable in most situations," and Seahawks S Earl Thomas, who held out during the preseason and then broke his leg in Week 4, is "no different." Calkins: "But I'll also rarely fault an organization for refusing to give in." It "might seem heartless for these teams to look at players as commodities, but that's how employees are viewed in most businesses, and the players know what they're getting into" (SEATTLE TIMES, 10/3).

Borders will stay on with the WNBA through Nov. 1 before officially stepping aside
Photo: NBAE/GETTY IMAGES
Borders will stay on with the WNBA through Nov. 1 before officially stepping aside
Photo: NBAE/GETTY IMAGES
Borders will stay on with the WNBA through Nov. 1 before officially stepping aside
Photo: NBAE/GETTY IMAGES

The WNBA must search for its third president this decade after Lisa Borders announced she will step down, and the league could "tap into a generation of its best corporate leaders, taking those who have succeeded at the team level and promoting them," according to Howard Megdal of the N.Y. TIMES. Minnesota Lynx VP/Business Operations Carley Knox, Knicks Senior VP/Business Operations Kristin Bernert, Indiana Fever President Kelly Krauskopf and Seattle Storm President & GM Alisha Valavanis "would all fit the bill." The WNBA also has a "generation of players who could serve as a well-known, public-facing leader of the league." A president with playing experience could be "particularly helpful at this moment in league history, with the players’ union facing an Oct. 31 deadline to opt out" of the current CBA. It is widely believed that the union will do so, "setting off a new negotiation while the CBA remains in effect until the conclusion of next season." But hiring a new leader may be tricky because how the league defines success "remains unclear," which makes "defining the president's role difficult." ESPN's Rebecca Lobo said, "Lisa was a terrific president. She was smart, liked by the players, had good business acumen and was media savvy. The next president will need to have similar attributes. This is going to be an important hire" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/3). ESPN's Rachel Nichols said, "Let's hope the WNBA can find a replacement quickly and someone who lives up to the precedent that Lisa Borders set. She has been phenomenal and would, of course, like to avoid a potential lockout for this league that's been on the rise" ("The Jump," ESPN, 10/2).  

GIVE THEM POWER: ESPN.com's Mechelle Voepel wrote the next person hired to run the WNBA should be someone who has as much "actual power" as Commissioner Adam Silver has in the NBA. The WNBA product has "never been better," but its business plan, marketing, strategy and communications all have to "rise to that level." This is an "opportunity to solidify WNBA leadership by hiring people who are given enough authority, responsibility and resources to make these 'destination' jobs that people want to have for a long time." It is "imperative to empower whoever is leading the WNBA." That "hasn't seemed to be a goal of the NBA, let alone a priority" (ESPN.com, 10/2).

Judge is just one of the young players Manfred has mentioned as possibly being the face of MLB
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
Judge is just one of the young players Manfred has mentioned as possibly being the face of MLB
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
Judge is just one of the young players Manfred has mentioned as possibly being the face of MLB
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

There was talk last year of Yankees RF Aaron Judge being positioned to become the next face of baseball, but MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred now believes Judge "faces stiff competition," according to Kevin Kernan of the N.Y. POST. Manfred said Judge is "part of a group of young players" taking the league by storm, but the "only problem with identifying any one of them right now is there are so many." Manfred: "I talked about Judge last year. Everybody was all excited about it and then [Braves LF Ronald Acuña Jr.] comes and then [Nationals LF Juan Soto]. It seems like every year we have a new one to add to that list of great young players. It is a very fortunate time for the game in terms of the quality of the young talent that is coming into the game." Meanwhile, Manfred said that this was a "good season of competitive balance for baseball" with teams like the A's, with the league's lowest Opening Day payroll, making the postseason. Manfred: "The most important thing for us over the long haul is that teams in markets of all sizes feel like they have a chance to win. If you are in a smaller market you see what Milwaukee did all season long, that's a nice thing" (N.Y. POST, 10/3).

PROCESS STILL ONGOING: Manfred yesterday said that MLB is "going 'day by day' in its investigation of domestic violence charges" against Cubs SS Addison Russell, who "remains on administrative leave" after his wife alleged emotional and physical abuse by him during their marriage (Chicago DAILY HERALD, 10/3).