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Volume 26 No. 231

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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 founders of SBD back in 2013: (l-r) David Abrutyn, Jeffrey Pollack, Chuck Todd, Steve Bilafer and Abe Madkour
Photo: marc bryan-brown
The founders of SBD back in 2013: (l-r) David Abrutyn, Jeffrey Pollack, Chuck Todd, Steve Bilafer and Abe Madkour
Photo: marc bryan-brown
The founders of SBD back in 2013: (l-r) David Abrutyn, Jeffrey Pollack, Chuck Todd, Steve Bilafer and Abe Madkour
Photo: marc bryan-brown

THE DAILY published its first edition 25 years ago today, and JEFFREY POLLACK had the idea that started it all. In the early '90s, Pollack, now President & COO of the XFL, worked as a political consultant, but had MLB as a client and began to pay closer attention to the sports industry. What he saw was a "fledgling industry with no real infrastructure for the exchange of business information," so he set out to change it. Since leaving the Daily in '98, Pollack has gone on to hold many roles in the sports world, including roles with the NBA, NASCAR and the Chargers. Pollack said, "The Daily is still part of my morning routine. I have not missed reading an issue in 25 years."

Q: What first inspired the idea for the Daily?
Pollack: Lightning struck on a flight from LAX to JFK. I had a copy of Variety, a copy of Sports Illustrated, and at least one scotch in me. I hypothesized that, not only was sports a business, but very much an entertainment business. And, if that was the case, where was the Variety of sports? Where was the daily trade publication to connect the people that work in the industry and fuel a marketplace of ideas? I did some research, couldn't find what I was looking for, and the core idea for the Daily was pretty much fully inspired and set.

Q: How did the first iterations of the Daily come about?
Pollack: The doors to Digital Sports Network, which was the company I created to launch the Daily, opened on Feb. 14, 1994. My partner in the venture was DOUG BAILEY, who was not only a political consultant, but also the founder of another company called the American Political Network. They were in the business of publishing daily electronic trade publications for the political industry, so we tapped into their platform, publishing model and technology. The internet as we know it today, email and mobile communications, social media and other digital platforms, was all still a dream. It's also worth noting four other key players in our launch: STEVE BILAFER was our founding editor, CHUCK TODD was our assistant editor, ABE MADKOUR was a staff writer and DAVID ABRUTYN was our head of marketing. Three of those names are well-known to your readers; the first name is one that deserves to be.

Q: How has the Daily met your expectations?
Pollack: My goal was simple: be of service, help wire up the industry to talk itself, and promote a greater sense of connectivity and identity. I think that's been accomplished. And, when you look at the proliferation of sports business news and information services over the past 25 years, there's no doubt that the sports industry is fully connected with a strong sense of self. While the news of the day and the substance of each issue has changed, the structure of the Daily today is essentially what we launched 25 years ago, and it's stood the test of time. I imagine it will all look a lot different 25 years from now. I'll be proud of whatever it becomes -- as long as the brand continues to stand for trust, truth and connection.