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Volume 26 No. 60

Leagues and Governing Bodies

CBA talks between the NFL and the NFLPA are continuing, and the league has a "clear timetable in mind for getting things resolved," as it "genuinely wants an agreement" by Sept. 1, according to a source cited by Mike Florio of PRO FOOTBALL TALK. The NFL "doesn’t want the CBA negotiations looming over the multi-month 100th season celebration." The league also "wants to take the promise of long-term labor peace and parlay that into new TV deals" (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 6/6). The NFLPA recently sent a letter to player agents telling them to start saving money in case of a possible work stoppage, but THE ATHLETIC's Ross Tucker wrote it "seems like a hollow threat." Tucker: "I’d be shocked if the NFLPA allowed the negotiations to get to a point where the players missed any games let alone an entire season." That is a game the NFLPA "can never really win." The owners have "much deeper pockets, significantly more leverage, and time on their side if the labor strife would get to that point." Tucker: "Given how short NFL careers are and how reliant the players are on those game checks I just don’t see them missing any, let alone an entire season’s worth" (THEATHLETIC.com, 6/6).

Steelers players are in favor of reducing the preseason so long as games are not added to the regular season
Photo: steelers

LESS IS MORE? In Pittsburgh, Gerry Dulac notes Steelers players are "not opposed to shortening the preseason," but their support of the idea "would depend on what would happen to the regular season if the preseason were reduced from four to two games." They "would be in favor of a reduction in preseason games so long as two more games were not added to the regular-season schedule" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 6/7). Also in Pittsburgh, Joe Starkey writes the idea of an 18-game regular season "could be nothing more than a negotiating ploy in advance of serious CBA talks, an item the league could throw out there in bad faith then pull back as a 'concession' to players who claim they want no part of it." However, the owners "might really push for two more games of max revenue." That move "would spit in the face of all the 'player safety' initiatives the league is so proud of." It would "compromise the quality of play in the postseason." The players "should never let this happen" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 6/7).

RISKY BUSINESS: YAHOO SPORTS' Terez Paylor writes after the NFL last month teamed up with the NFLPA for a "Joint Pain Management Committee," it is clear league execs "believe that a decent chunk of players want" a relaxed policy on marijuana use. The NFL’s decision makers are not "oblivious to exploring safer pain-management alternatives, and better wellness and mental health treatment for players," but the players "better protect themselves in case it’s all a big hustle, and there is some evidence to suggest that it is." NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s stance on marijuana use among players has "seemed to change depending on the day." The NFLPA "started its own pain management committee" in '17, one in which it "began looking into marijuana use as a possible treatment." The union also "invited the NFL to be a part of it back then, only for the league to (finally) jump aboard now." Paylor: "What took so long?" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 6/7).

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said the league needs "to be responsible" if players have an issues with the term "owner" being used in the league. The issue has picked up steam in recent days, but Silver prior to NBA Finals Game 3 said, "In our league, the formal name for our team owners is the governor, and then we have alternate governors. So we don't technically use the name 'owner.'" He said the problem is that owner is "such a popular term in terms of culture, and the media that it will take a while to transition out of that name." He said, "If people are sensitive, if players are sensitive about it, we should be looking for another title for the position." Silver added words can "come to have different meanings and different connotations, so I don't think we're locked in stone certainly to that label for the person who owns the team." Silver also said he allows NBA players to have a voice and express themselves "because I think it's the right way to run a business in this day and age." He said, "You need transparency, you need to represent the people you're working with and you need to listen to them. That's how you can run a great business, and we all have respect for each other in this league." More Silver: "Those people formerly known as the owners deserve a lot of the credit because we have a really progressive group of people in this league." Silver said they have a "progressive view about how you run a business and that is what enables me to have that kind of policy so it's not just talk and when we sit down with players we're able to really have a serious partnership and take into account how the people who drive this league really feel about how it's operated" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 6/6).

PERFECT TIMING: ESPN's Michael Wilbon said the NBA is "chasing television ratings," in response to comments from Silver earlier this postseason that the league could move start times around for some West Coast games. ESPN's Tony Kornheiser said, "Television is now in control of sports and that sports is made for television. I do think that you serve the greater good of everybody involved in your sport if you chase television ratings." He added while he would like for games to tip-off at 7:00pm ET, "I don't think you can do this for every game." Kornheiser: "I would only do this for nationally televised games." Wilbon said Silver's comments, which recently were mirrored by Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban are "lip-service" because most of this year's NBA Finals games have started at 9:00pm ET. Wilbon said, "Start the damn finals games at 8:00. Why are you talking about the future and what you do to the west coast, when you're starting the games two hours later in the east than they should be starting? The hypocrisy" ("PTI," ESPN, 6/6).

Pocono Raceway's contract to host IndyCar expires after the upcoming race at the track in August
Photo: getty images

IndyCar CEO Mark Miles said that while the series "continues to negotiate with Pocono Raceway about a possible extension, no agreement has been struck," according to Jim Ayello of the INDIANAPOLIS STAR. Miles confirmed that IndyCar’s contract with Pocono "expires after the series visits" in August. This latest agreement was "only a one-year deal after the two sides had agreed to a three-year pact" from '16-18. Initially, the speedway "dealt with attendance issues but in recent years, crowds have grown." Ahead of last year's race, Pocono CEO Nick Igdalsky said that ticket sales were "up year-over-year." Ayello notes if an extension with Pocono "isn’t reached, the series is working on a replacement." Miles confirmed that the series has "talked with Richmond Raceway executives." Miles said the speedway is “being evaluated in the context of the discussions of looking at all of our opportunities.” He added that IndyCar is "not interested in expanding its schedule of races" within the continental U.S. (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 6/7).

LOOKING LIKE A HAIL MARY: The STAR's Ayello writes Miles "poured some cold water over the sizzling hot stove of rumors" that there could be a NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader. Miles characterized the idea of a same-weekend racing event co-hosted by both series "a longshot." Miles: "I’m not opposed to it, but I don’t know if I feel like there is a lot of momentum (behind it)." He went on to "underscore the many challenges of lining up such an event, not the least of which is sorting out 'positioning' equitable to both series" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 6/7).