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Volume 21 No. 1
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1st and 10

Issues to watch in the season ahead

■ Replacement refs

Photo by: Getty Images

If replacement referees take the field this week and Sunday, everyone knows the media will be itching to document every blown call. But as of press time, the league was holding firm with its locked-out refs, who want more pay and to keep their pensions.

■ Player discipline
While Bountygate draws the attention, Commissioner Roger Goodell’s authority to punish players for off-field infractions could continue to rankle players.

■ Collusion case
This week, federal judge David Doty will hear arguments on whether the union should be allowed to bring a damages complaint against the NFL for allegedly conspiring to create a salary cap in 2010 when no cap was supposed to exist. The NFL contends that the collective-bargaining agreement and the end of the Brady litigation last year precluded the case. If the case moves forward, it could become a real headache for the league.

■ Concussions and courtrooms

Photo by: Getty Images

More than 3,000 retired players are now suing the NFL for concussions they say they received during their playing days. The league is trying to have the case thrown out of court. If the case moves forward, it could pose a massive liability to the league.

■ Los Angeles still waiting
Ever since the Rams and Raiders left in 1994, speculation has centered on when the NFL would return to the City of Angels. Two stadium proposals are now on the table, but will the league finally make a play for Los Angeles?

■ Tebowmania
Will Tim Tebow continue to be a media darling even if his new team, the Jets, struggle? The team had scored no touchdowns through their first three preseason games, and that already had many fans howling.

■ A new lease on St. Louis

Photo by: Getty Images

Will the Rams reach a deal to extend their lease, which expires after the 2014 season? So far the team and the St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission have gone back and forth over their visions for proposed improvements to the Edward Jones Dome.

■ California dreaming
Santa Clara may be getting a new stadium for the 49ers in 2014, but that still leaves the Raiders and Chargers looking for new homes, while the potential projects in Los Angeles look for possible tenants.

■ London calling
The NFL will play at least one regular-season game in London through 2016, and likely two beginning next year or in 2014. The only question is, how soon afterward does that become eight regular-season games a year for one team?

■ Different takes on Bountygate
Bountygate has dominated the offseason headlines. At first, in March when the NFL said it had uncovered a system at the New Orleans Saints for paying players to injure opponents, outrage reigned. But as more evidence came to light, opinions split on whether what the Saints deployed was any different than the informal systems at many other teams to pay players for good plays, albeit without courser language or naively written down. The NFL and players are now battling it out in court.

SportsBusiness Journal asked two former NFL quarterbacks and CBS Sports announcers their opinions, and their responses underscored the split this issue has engendered.

Boomer Esiason

“There are a lot of players who feel Jonathan Vilma was unfairly punished. I am not one of those players. I believe this commissioner is a thoughtful commissioner, this commissioner does an enormous amount of investigation, and I think he found some really ugly stuff that went on for three years and that was perpetrated by the coaches, the management and the players, all involved. And the faster the players can realize they did wrong, the faster they can get back on better speaking terms.”

Phil Simms

“There is nothing been told to me yet that makes me think the players should have been suspended. I can go on and on about it, but basically, I understand the coach, the GM, all of them, but I just don’t agree with the players, I don’t. If they were told to stop by all the people above them, they would have. … Bountygate, as far as players, it is an emotional thing, something for the players to talk about and rally around. I would be surprised if really in their hearts they were truly trying to hurt people. I don’t know, I have a hard time believing that.”

Turnkey Sports Poll

The following are results of the Turnkey Sports Poll taken in August. The survey covered more than 1,100 senior-level sports industry executives spanning professional and college sports.

Which of the following planned changes by the NFL will most improve the game-day experience for attendees?

Based only on your knowledge of concussions, if your child wanted to start playing organized football, would you want him/her to do so?

Yes 55%
No 40%
Not sure / No response 5%

Which of the following topics will draw the most attention this upcoming NFL season?

Concussions 48%
Player behavior off the field 24%
Finding a team for Los Angeles 8%
Improving the in-stadium experience 8%
Players/management relationship 6%
New blackout rule 4%
Not sure / No response 3%

Source: Turnkey Sports & Entertainment in conjunction with SportsBusiness Journal. Turnkey Intelligence specializes in research, measurement and lead generation for brands and properties. Visit