Political consultant ROGER STONE has "emerged as an unlikely critic of the NFL concussion settlement over the last several weeks," as he has become a "'go-to source' for a lawyer involved in litigation," according to A.J. Perez of USA TODAY. Stone wrote in an Instagram post Monday featuring an image of former NFLer CORNELL WEBSTER, "Stop the racism and pay up!" Attorney CHRISTOPHER SEEGER, co-lead counsel for the class of former NFLers who helped craft the settlement, wrote that attorney PATRICK TIGHE "appears to be a go-to source" for Stone. Tighe, who represents Webster and about 90 other former NFLers, "denied any association with Stone." When asked why Stone has become interested in the concussion settlement and Webster in particular, Tighe said, "Your guess is as good as mine" (USATODAY.com, 2/8). Stone has previously said that the NFL "allowed the controversy surrounding player protests during the national anthem to continue in order to distract from the concussion settlement." Stone said that he "stands by his comments about the NFL." He said, "No one pays me anything to point out that the NFL has not lived up to its responsibility under the settlement to pay its veteran brain injured players. The NFL should be ashamed" (WSJ.com, 2/8).
People and Pop Culture
NBC Sports Ventures Senior VP ROB SIMMELKJAER is leaving his job to pursue new entrepreneurial opportunities. His last day will be Monday. Simmelkjaer will announce his future plans “in the coming weeks,” according to a note NBC Broadcasting & Sports Chair MARK LAZARUS sent to NBC Sports Group staffers this morning. “His desire to move in this direction comes as no surprise, as Rob has led NBC Sports Group’s Ventures arm since joining our division in 2011,” Lazarus wrote. Among the areas that Simmelkjaer oversaw were NBC Sports Radio, esports and gaming and Spartan Race. Simmelkjaer ran for public office in Connecticut back in ’17.
ESPN has reorganized its programming department, giving Exec VP/Programming & Scheduling BURKE MAGNUS oversight over the company’s international programming. The move was made after Exec VP/Managing Dir RUSSELL WOLFF moved over to run ESPN+. TIM BUNNELL, who had run international programming for 17 years, now will report to Magnus as Senior VP/Programming & Acquisitions and handle the NBA, golf, tennis and motorsports. ESPN VP/Programming & Acquisitions JOHN PAPA and Senior Dir of Programming MICHAEL CHRISTOFER will report to Bunnell. Longtime ESPN exec ROB TEMPLE now will report to Magnus as Senior VP/Programming & Acquisitions, overseeing MLB, X Games, Little League World Series and poker. MATT KENNY also joins the programming group as VP/Combat Sports. Kenny comes from ESPN’s affiliate group and will report to Senior VP/Programming & Acquisitions SCOTT GUGLIELMINO. In this restructured group, Guglielmino will oversee the NFL, soccer, combat sports and ESPN Deportes. Magnus now will have seven direct reports: Bunnell, Guglielmino, Temple, VP/Programming & Acquisitions ILAN BEN-HANAN, Senior VP/College Sports Programming & Events PETE DERZIS, Senior VP/College Networks ROSALYN DURANT and VP/Digital Media Programming JOHN LASKER. Papa and ESPN Deportes VP and GM FREDDY ROLON will remain part of Magnus’ senior staff.
FRANK ROBINSON, one of the "most impactful figures in baseball history" who became the first African-American manager in MLB, died Thursday at 83, according to Nightengale & Gardner of USA TODAY. Few men have had a "greater impact as a player, a manager and an executive than Robinson, who was so revered and respected that three different franchises retired his uniform number, No. 20, and erected statues in his honor" (USA TODAY, 2/8). MLB Commissioner ROB MANFRED on Thursday at the owners' meetings in Orlando praised the late HOFer, who held a wide variety of administrative roles in the league office after his playing and managing career. Manfred: "It's rare that we'll see somebody again excel in all these areas. Maybe never. ... All-in guy whatever topic you put him on" (Eric Fisher, THE DAILY). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Jared Diamond writes Robinson's impact "extended far beyond the confines of the field." He was a "pioneer in his sport’s checkered racial past, barreling through a wall that remained nearly three decades after JACKIE ROBINSON broke the color barrier" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 2/8).
BIGGER THAN BASEBALL: In N.Y., Michael Powell writes under the header, "Baseball Could Use More Frank Robinsons." Powell: "As with all things African-American and Major League Baseball, Robinson looms as a figure out of the Mesozoic Age." Less than 8% of major league players are African-American, and currently there is only one manager in the Dodgers' DAVE ROBERTS. That is a "deeply perplexing shortfall" which "persists year after year after year" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/8). In S.F., Bruce Jenkins writes, "As baseball laments the shortage of African American players in today’s game, Robinson was part of a golden age" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 2/8). SI.com's Jack Dickey wrote Robinson "never got all the credit he deserved as a player or as a pioneer." The "minefield through which he had to tiptoe as a proud, ambitious and complicated black superstar presented a more potent challenge" to him than success on the field, one that "persisted long after his playing days were over" (SI.com, 2/7). In Baltimore, Peter Schmuck writes Robinson long before he passed away was "already one of baseball’s immortals" (BALTIMORE SUN, 2/8). MLB Network’s Greg Amsinger said, “When I think of him being the first African-American manager, it puts him automatically on the Mount Rushmore of race in baseball" (“MLB Tonight,” MLB Network, 2/7).
THE RIGHT STUFF: ESPN.com noted Robinson "dealt with racism and segregation during his career." But he said that his accomplishments "pale in comparison to those of Jackie Robinson." Though the two were "unrelated, they were often mentioned together" (ESPN.com, 2/7). THE RINGER's Michael Baumann wrote Robinson "became an advocate for civil rights as the face of the fight against housing segregation in Baltimore." Meanwhile, his life in baseball is its "own multigenerational epic" (THERINGER.com, 2/8). YAHOO SPORTS' Tim Brown: "Say goodbye to a piece of the best part of the game, and then to a piece of what the game was before men such as Frank Robinson were asked to play it, to manage it, to love it, to trust it" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 2/7). MLB Network’s Carlos Pena said, “When you look at Frank Robinson, he was in a position of leadership, a position of power, and was the first one to do so." Pena: "When we throw those words around, ‘trail blazer’ and ‘pioneer,’ with him coming into a position of leadership in baseball, he was an image of a movement forward as a nation when it comes to civil rights" (“MLB Now,” MLB Network, 2/7).
N.Y. Open Tournament Dir JOSH RIPPLE this weekend helps kick off the second iteration of the ATP event after a strong first year on Long Island. Ripple, the former CEO of the WTA (and if we're going way back, a former men’s varsity tennis coach at George Washington), is anxious to capitalize on fan interest. Ripple: “The first weekend of these tournaments is as or even more important than finals weekend in that it’s a first impression.” Ripple took THE DAILY through his weekend on the ground in the lead-up to Sunday qualifying, including a behind-the-scenes look at the player party and how he manages to stay fresh and engaged traveling back and forth from N.Y. to his family in southern California.
BUILDING TO SUNDAY: We started our overall push on Thursday with both our team and execs from Nassau County raising the net to kick off the event. Some players typically come in that afternoon, so our team is up and ready in full-blown service mode. Then Friday the majority of the players come in, so it’s another operations day. Programming then really kicks off Saturday morning with a free event, the “New York Tennis Expo” in partnership with United Sports Publications. We had about 4,000 people come last year, which is pretty cool for a non-playing day. Players will be practicing, and it’ll really be a sports/recreation-type festival. It was a fantastic way to debut the event in the market last year. This year early-registration is up to 7,000 people, and let’s hope that number rings true. Players will engage with fans and we’ll also have seminars from coaches. Representatives from the Islanders will also be here. It’s just a great day of everyone getting juiced up and getting some exposure.
UNDER THE LIGHTS: Then we have Opening Night, which kicks off at 6:00pm ET under the header, “Taste of New York Open.” It will star celebrity chef DAVID BURKE and will be co-hosted by ANDY RODDICK and JIM COURIER. It also serves as the official ATP Player Party and is the lead-in to our first ticketed event on the stadium court. That’ll go about 6:00-7:30, then we’ll present a skills challenge (basically tennis’ version of a drive-chip-and-putt). Tennis is one of the only sports that doesn’t have one of those types of events. Then at 8:00 we’ll bring out Andy and Jim for a two-out-of-three match. Sunday, we start qualifying at 11:00am and it runs through the entire day.
MATCH POINT: Once the competition starts, I’m all about being with the fans, entertaining guests, making sure that the players and the Tour are happy. I see very few balls hit over the course of the week. It’s probably the least important element of my job. The most important element is to ensure that the players have the best possible stage to play. I’m a fan, it’s fun to see great matches, but it’s not integral to the role.
COAST TO COAST: I have family both in N.Y. and California, but a typical weekend for me is trying to get a plane back to the West Coast and see my wife and kids. I’m fortunate to have a beautiful place to work and hangout in N.Y. and then also have a great personal life out in southern California. It’s a lot of traveling, but I’m not complaining. Unfortunately, I'm somewhat of a work-alcoholic, it’s hard to break away. On those 6-hour flights it’s often three-quarters work and maybe catch one good movie or episode of a TV series.
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Pistons F BLAKE GRIFFIN has listed his home in the Pacific Palisades neighborhood of L.A for $10.995M. The Cape Cod-inspired house has "about 9,600 square feet of living space spread across three levels." A total of six bedrooms and 6.5 bathrooms includes a "master suite composed of a sitting room, two dressing rooms/closets and a tiled bath." Pocketing glass doors "open to the rear, where a saltwater swimming pool sits level with the patio." A basketball half-court, an outdoor kitchen and lawn "fill out the roughly one-third-acre lot" (LATIMES.com, 2/2).
BANK SHOT: Warriors G STEPHEN CURRY sold his home in Alamo, Calif., for $6.3M. The 1.5-acre property includes a "traditional-style main house, a detached guesthouse and a six-car garage." Built in '06, the main house has "more than 10,000 square feet of living space, five bedrooms, 8.5 bathrooms and five fireplaces." Other amenities include a "billiard room, a climate-controlled wine cellar and a Finnish-style spa" (LATIMES.com, 1/31).
DOUBLE PLAY: Former MLBer DAVID ORTIZ has put his Weston, Mass., home up for sale for $6.3M. The 8,100-square-foot house has six bedrooms, seven bathrooms, and a "custom-built bar and theater space in the basement." There is also a "three-car garage, an in-ground pool and a jacuzzi" (BOSTONGLOBE.com, 2/5)....Baseball HOFer RANDY JOHNSON's 25,000-square-foot mansion in Paradise Valley, Ariz., sold for $7.3M in an online auction. Bidding started at $4M. The mansion comes with seven bedrooms, 12 bathrooms, a "professional recording studio, a music room" and a workout facility (AZCENTRAL.com, 1/31).
BUYERS & SELLERS: Free agent WR BRANDON MARSHALL has relisted his 6,400-square-foot condo in Chicago for $3.9M, the "same price he paid for it" in '14. In April '18, Marshall "listed the condo for sale" at just under $5M, and subsequently "cut the price several times." The condo has "two separate outdoor rooftops, totaling about 2,500 square feet" (CHICAGOBUSINESS.com, 2/5)....Former MMA fighter BRENDAN SCHAUB sold his two-story, 3,635-square-foot home in West L.A. for $2.17M (LATIMES.com, 1/31).
MLB has reorganized its international staffing in which longtime league exec JIM SMALL has been promoted from VP/Asia Pacific to a new role as Senior VP/Int'l. Small will relocate back to N.Y. after working in Asia the past 15 years and establishing MLB’s first office in Tokyo in ’03. He will now oversee the league’s global strategy and four international offices, as well as its international play schedule and the World Baseball Classic. SAMI KAWAKAMI will replace many of Small’s prior responsibilities as the new Managing Dir of Japan. Other MLB Int'l Promotions include CHARLIE HILL to VP/Int'l Strategic Development and RODRIGO FERNANDEZ to Managing Dir of Latin America (Eric Fisher, THE DAILY).
TAKING THE CHECKERED FLAG: Richard Childress Racing CMO BEN SCHLOSSER has resigned after a 17-year run with the team, as he pursues new opportunities. Schlosser, who joined the team in ‘02 not long after the death of late RCR driver DALE EARNHARDT in 01, will stay on as a consultant. Over the years, he built out RCR's business team and helped land partners like Dow Chemical, Caterpillar and Shell Oil (Adam Stern, THE DAILY).
EXECS: DAZN hired LOGAN SWAIM from NFL Network to be the Exec Producer of the streaming service's nightly MLB whiparound show that launches Opening Day. Swaim had been a showrunner for NFL Net’s “Good Morning Football." Previously he worked with ESPN, CBS and NBC (John Ourand, THE DAILY)....Wichita State AD DARRON BOATRIGHT has "received a three-year contract extension" through June '22 (KANSAS.com, 2/7)....Aramark General Counsel STEVE REYNOLDS will retire, after having been with the concessionaire since '12. Aramark's quarterly report to the SEC on Tuesday said that Reynolds "gave notice" of his retirement on Jan. 31. Reynolds will work with his successor, Aramark VP & Associate General Counsel LAUREN HARRINGTON, through April 1 (PHILLY.com, 2/8)....FA Chair GREG CLARKE was elected Britain's new FIFA VP. Clarke, who beat out DAVID MARTIN, will take a seat on FIFA's Council. He succeeds former Manchester United CEO DAVID GILL (THETIMES.co.uk, 2/7).
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Patriots QB TOM BRADY had his playoff beard "shaved at Gillette World Shaving Headquarters on Thursday." At the charitable event, Gillette presented the Boys & Girls Club of Boston, Best Buddies and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute with "donations of $35,000 each." Brady also "signed a Patriots-branded Gillette razor, to be auctioned off with all proceeds going to his favorite charities" (BOSTONGLOBE.com, 2/7). Meanwhile, Patriots WR JULIAN EDELMAN "let ELLEN DEGENERES shave off his facial hair" on Thursday to benefit the Boys & Girls Club of Boston. DeGeneres made a $10,000 donation that Edelman said he will match. The show airs Friday (BOSTON.CBSLOCAL.com, 2/8).
STILL HERE: The Boston Sports Club LAB branch in Copley Square, which had "aimed to jump on board the boutique fitness trend, will close March 1 -- and a TB12 facility might take its place." The BSC location "sent a note to members" saying that the space will "now be occupied by TB12 Sports Therapy Center who may offer services that you find value in" (BOSTONGLOBE.com, 2/7).
HONORS & AWARDS: Chiefs President MARK DONOVAN will receive the Citizen Service Award from Voices for National Service for his efforts to invest in civic health through supporting national service. Donovan will receive the award in DC on Tuesday (Chiefs)....The 84th Annual MTRWestern Sports Star of the Year banquet took place on Thursday at Seattle's Grand Sheraton Hotel. WNBA Storm G SUE BIRD won the Royal Brougham Award, given annually to an individual for a "lifetime of achievement in sports and who exemplifies the spirit” of Washington. Storm C BREANNA STEWART won the Female Sports Star award. Washington State QB GARDNER MINSHEW won the Male Sports Star award. Longtime Seahawks employee SANDY GREGORY won the Paul Allen Award, given to an individual who has "made a significant impact or compelling philanthropic contribution." Longtime Seattle sports columnist ART THIEL won the Keith Jackson Award, given to a member of the media for "excellence in communicating the sports stories” of the state (SEATTLETIMES.com, 2/7).
NAMES: Jazz players visited Salt Lake City’s Primary Children’s Hospital on Thursday (DESERETNEWS.com, 2/7)....U.S. Sen. MARK WARNER (D-Va.) was spotted with Capitals Owner TED LEONSIS walking into a suite at Capital One Arena during Avalanche-Capitals on Thursday (POLITICO.com, 2/8)....LEBRON JAMES reportedly "reserved the entire Ivey's Hotel" in Charlotte for NBA All-Star Weekend (CHARLOTTE AGENDA, 2/8).
What does Major League Soccer need to do to raise its profile as a premier sports league in the U.S.? That was the aim of Boston Consulting Group in its recently completed study of MLS fandom and opportunities for growth. We’ll take a deep dive into the study’s findings, what MLS learned from them, and the initiatives the league and teams will implement.
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May 29-30, 2019
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