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Volume 26 No. 87

Leagues and Governing Bodies

The league is investigating the allegations, but it's unclear if a decision will be made before Sunday
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
The league is investigating the allegations, but it's unclear if a decision will be made before Sunday
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
The league is investigating the allegations, but it's unclear if a decision will be made before Sunday
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

The NFL will "seriously consider placing" Patriots WR Antonio Brown on paid leave via the commissioner's exempt list, after he was "accused of rape and sexual assault in a federal lawsuit," according to sources cited by Mark Maske of the WASHINGTON POST. If placed on the exempt list, Brown would be "ineligible to play" for the Patriots. One source said that is "possible" and something the NFL is "going to have to focus on." The league is "investigating the allegations, but it's unclear whether a decision will be made before the Patriots are scheduled to play Sunday." League officials "planned to meet" yesterday about the matter. The NFL "could allow Brown to play for the Patriots while its investigation proceeds and then place him on paid leave if NFL officials believe that is warranted" (WASHINGTON POST, 9/12). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Andrew Beaton cites sources as saying that the "nature of this case presents an unprecedented conundrum." Because the lawsuit filed against Brown has "no indication that the accuser has filed police complaints related to any of the cases," there is "not even a basic investigatory foundation that can be used to begin an internal assessment of the allegations." For years, the NFL has been "rattled by allegations of sexual violence perpetrated by its players and criticism of the league's handling of those issues." But even a "league that has developed broad experience investigating these matters and doling out punishment hasn't handled something quite like this" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 9/12).

OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF MIND: USA TODAY's Christine Brennan writes the NFL should take the lawsuit "seriously enough to stash Brown away somewhere for the time being" while the allegations are investigated (USA TODAY, 9/12). In Toronto, John Kryk writes "shoving Brown out of the spotlight for weeks, or even merciful months, might not only be the right thing for the NFL to do, but it might be the only way the league can make these dismal, destructive, disturbing, dumbfounding, dysenteric doses of daily distractions go away" (TORONTO SUN, 9/12). USA TODAY's Jarrett Bell writes the "risk" for Commissioner Roger Goodell is that if he lets Brown play and the "allegations prove to be true, can you survive the fallout that will also unpack the Ray Rice disaster" from '14? (USA TODAY, 9/12). Meanwhile, in Boston, Christopher Gasper writes if Brown is going to be "removed from the Patriots roster by the Patriots, it’s going to come at the hands of owner Robert Kraft and team president Jonathan Kraft" instead of coach Bill Belichick. The Krafts "value their brand and public opinion" (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/12). 

CENTER OF ATTENTION, AGAIN: In Providence, Kevin McNamara writes the Patriots "can't avoid the unintended spotlight." McNamara: "Welcome to the Patriot Circus." About a "dozen TV cameras filled the Patriots media room" yesterday for Belichick's scheduled press briefing. After "continued questions about Brown, Belichick asked, 'Anything else on Miami? Any other questions?'" (PROVIDENCE JOURNAL, 9/12). 

USA Basketball Managing Dir Jerry Colangelo said that he "won't forget those who backed out of commitments" to play in the FIBA World Cup this summer when it comes to assemble the roster for the men's team at '20 Tokyo Games, according to Tim Reynolds of the AP. Team USA's loss to Serbia today means that the team cannot finish better than seventh place, which will mark the worst finish ever in a major international tournament. Colangelo said, "You can't help but notice and remember who you thought you were going to war with and who didn't show up. ... No one would have anticipated the pull-outs that we had." Reynolds notes of the 35 players "originally selected for the U.S. player pool, only four" ended up playing in China during the World Cup. Many players "cited schedule concerns as a reason to not play this summer, while others are dealing with injuries and some are acclimating in advance of joining new teams." Colengelo: "Going forward for USA Basketball, we're going to need the cooperation of teams, agents and then there has to be communication with players 1-on-1 to solidify those commitments. I am going to be anxious to see how many players reach out early to indicate that they wish and want and desire to play. But I'll make this statement: It's as much about maybe who we don't want as much as who we want" (AP, 9/12).

OLYMPIC BOOST? ESPN.com's Brian Winderhorst notes it has been 13 years since Team USA "didn't win a gold medal" in a major international event, and the "importance and the honor has slipped." America's top players now "have to consider their plans for next summer" in Tokyo. To win at the Olympics, America "needs more of its best" (ESPN.com, 9/11). ESPN's Jalen Rose said NBA All-Stars will be "more enthusiastic" about playing on Team USA "when it's an Olympic year (and) the stage is a lot bigger" ("Jalen & Jacoby," ESPN2, 9/11). NBA TV's Dennis Scott said while not all of the top U.S. players will be in Tokyo, he predicts "most of them do play" ("NBA Gametime," NBA TV, 9/11). ESPN's Paul Pierce said top U.S. players know the magnitude of the Olympics "is much greater that the World Cup." Pierce: "You're going to have your superstars back on the stage where they can represent their brands, because there's no bigger stage than the Olympics." ("The Jump," ESPN, 9/11).

NOT OUR BEST: USA TODAY's Scott Gleeson writes to say the U.S. World Cup squad "was a B-list team would be an understatement." Star players' reasons for passing on Team USA endeavors are "plentiful, especially when it's not the Olympics." But the "overall mindset hinders the culture that was revamped" in '08 when Colangelo and Mike Krzyzewski "spearheaded a team with the best NBA talent" (USA TODAY, 9/12). ESPN's Bomani Jones said if the U.S. tries to "slap together a team late and send it off to play in international competition against teams that have been playing together for a long time," then chances are they are "going to be at a bit of a disadvantage" ("High Noon," ESPN, 9/11). ESPN's Israel Gutierrez: "Our best can still comfortably beat their best. Our middle of the pack can no longer comfortably beat their best" ("Highly Questionable," ESPN, 9/11).

COULD HAVE SEEN THIS COMING: The AP's Reynolds wrote the World Cup result "was not exactly unexpected," as the "best team was at home." The group that ultimately got assembled "was a bunch of guys not even on the radar screens when this selection process began." However, there is "not much incentive for multimillionaires to give up their time off, travel thousands of miles to risk injury by playing in a tournament in which most of the games are not nationally televised." Additionally, many players who have "already won with USA Basketball often say they want to let someone else have a shot" (AP, 9/11). ESPN's Dan Le Batard said after Paul George suffered a broken leg while playing for Team USA in '14, the idea of having the top NBA players on Team USA "is done." There is not "going to be the kind of shame that ever makes our stars come back and participate in this because there have been enough losses for this not to feel like precedent anymore" ("Highly Questionable," ESPN, 9/11).

The “Iron Front” symbol has been a point of contention between MLS and supporters groups
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
The “Iron Front” symbol has been a point of contention between MLS and supporters groups
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
The “Iron Front” symbol has been a point of contention between MLS and supporters groups
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

MLS representatives will meet with the Independent Supporters Council and supporters' groups for the Timbers and Sounders on Sept. 19 to "discuss the MLS Fan Code of Conduct," according to Jamie Goldberg of the Portland OREGONIAN. MLS has "faced backlash from fans for changing the Fan Code of Conduct this season to ban political signage and displays at games." Among the banned signage is the “Iron Front” symbol that was "first used by an anti-Nazi paramilitary organization in Germany in the 1930s." Fans say that the Iron Front symbol is "not political because it represents an opposition to fascism and oppression, which are issues of human rights." However, MLS is "concerned that the symbol has been adopted by the antifa movement." Fans are "still allowed to wear Iron Front imagery on their clothing, but are not allowed to wave flags with the symbol." However, this rule has been "enforced differently at different stadiums throughout MLS" (Portland OREGONIAN, 9/12). ESPN.com's Jeff Carlisle noted the Timbers Army, Emerald City Supporters and Gorilla FC have been "at odds with the league since the start of the season." The BOD of the 107 Independent Supporters Trust, the organizational arm of the Timbers Army, in a statement yesterday "revealed that it had met with members of the Timbers front office, as well as community leaders in a bid to state their case" (ESPN.com, 9/11).

The '19-20 PGA Tour season begins today with A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier, and the schedule this year will be "just as crammed as it was last season," according to Bob Harig of ESPN.com. There will be 49 tournaments total, and with 11 tournaments over the next 11 weeks, the "days of skipping the fall events are fleeting for most players." The fall events "do not exactly follow any sensible geographic plot," though. The Tour goes from West Virginia to Mississippi next week, followed by Napa, Las Vegas and Houston. Six of the eight winners in the fall events last year "made the 30-man Tour Championship field, which gives an indication of how important these tournaments have become" (ESPN.com, 9/11). GOLFWEEK's Steve DiMeglio wrote the Tour's schedule "raises one elephant-in-the-room question: How will the players deal with it?" Last season, numerous players "struggled to find a rhythm and a proper balance to playing the condensed season of just more than 10 months." Figuring out a "suitable itinerary" was "easier said than done." Players "voiced their concern" and this season will be "just as equally challenging" (USA TODAY, 9/11).

ROOM TO GROW: Golf writer Geoff Shackelford said the first year of the revamped PGA Tour schedule was a "success for the majors," but "if you go and look at the strength of fields of the events around the majors, they took a hit." Shackelford: "The West Coast was strong. Florida was really strong. And then that whole series of events really the rest of the year, there were a lot of questions of if they made their tour stronger or weaker long term. And the player comments are kind of validating that" ("The Fried Egg Golf Podcast," 9/11).

ELITE STATUS: In California, Larry Bohannan writes the return of American Express as a title sponsor is "important" for the schedule as it becomes "part of an improving and strong West Coast swing." Last season, "many players decided to get in more golf on the West Coast." The "result was a West Coast swing with winners like Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose, Matt Kuchar and an overall increase in the strength of field of the seven events." If American Express can "use its money and its prestige to upgrade" the Desert Classic, it will "add to an already growing importance of the West Coast to players, to television and to the tour" (Palm Springs DESERT SUN, 9/11).

We assembled NFL insiders from the league, teams, players association, media, sponsors and agencies to get their perspectives on a wide-ranging array of topics. In this installment, our panelists talk about how sports betting will impact the NFL.