Archive for April, 2010

San Diego Chargers president Dean Spanos gives $4 million to San Diego schools

San Diego Chargers President Dean Spanos (right) and his family made a commitment 10 years ago to support San Diego-area schools and students by providing grants and scholarships through Chargers Champions, a program of the Chargers Community Foundation.

The program works to improve physical fitness in San Diego County schools by providing funding for new facilities and equipment while also honoring students for their outstanding leadership, service and commitment to their schools and communities. In the past decade, Chargers Champions has donated close to $4 million to 185 students and 80 schools.

“I’m proud to look back over the past 10 years and see how many students and schools we’ve been able to help,” said Spanos. “Any time we have the opportunity to help schools and kids succeed, our entire community benefits.”

This spring, Chargers Champions honored 10 students and six schools by donating $300,000 in scholarships, grants and computers.

For the complete story, click here.

ESPN.com’s Gregg Easterbrook: “There will be a new NFL collective bargaining agreement”

In a recent ESPN.com column, Gregg Easterbrook discusses the NFL labor situation, writing “there will be a new collective bargaining agreement, hence no strike or lockout.”

“Players’ reps are claiming there is something sinister to the fact that the networks are on the hook to pay the NFL about $5 billion in 2011 even if there are no games,” Easterbrook notes. “Supposedly, this means the owners actually desire a strike/lockout, because they’d received $5 billion yet have no player costs. But the $5 billion that would be paid to the NFL in 2011 if there are no games must be repaid to the networks via lower future broadcast fees. So there’s no incentive for the NFL to have a dark year.

“A canceled season in 2011 would surely make future NFL broadcasting rights deals much less valuable,” Easterbrook continues. “A reason payments from networks to the league — and in turn, payments from the league to players — have skyrocketed since 1993 is that labor peace makes broadcast rights to NFL games more valuable.”

“In the first regulated year, 1994, the salary cap was $49 million in today’s dollars; last year it was $128 million. That’s a 160 percent pay increase for players in just 15 years, and more like a 175 percent increase in total monies to players, when expansion is taken into account,” Easterbrook concludes. “NFL contributions to pension instruments for current and retired players also have skyrocketed. Labor peace (networks and fans assured of games) and a salary cap (rendering all teams competitive) have translated into a spectacular increase in money for NFL players and owners alike. Both parties would be fools to kill this golden goose, so a new deal will be worked out and there will be pro football in 2011.”

For the complete story, click here.

Statements by Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and NFL on Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland

Statement from Stephen Ross, Majority Owner of the Miami Dolphins:

As an owner of many companies and organizations, including the Miami Dolphins, I have always strived to comply with the highest standards in all aspects of my businesses including recruiting.

In interviewing employees we always look to obtain relevant and appropriate information in adherence with the best industry practices.

Jeff Ireland has already apologized for questions asked of former Oklahoma State receiver Dez Bryant.

I will be looking into this matter personally and will take appropriate actions if necessary. 

NFL Comment:

Steve Ross’s statement makes clear that the Miami Dolphins intend to address this matter promptly in an effective and thoughtful way. To his credit, Jeff Ireland recognizes that he exercised poor judgment in asking an insensitive and inappropriate question of Dez Bryant.  He took the proper step of calling Dez Bryant to apologize and then making that apology public.

NFL minicamp dates announced

Following are the rookie and veteran minicamp dates for 2010, as well as the previously announced organized team activity (OTA) dates.

Clubs are permitted to hold a rookie minicamp on one of the first two weekends after the NFL Draft and conduct one mandatory minicamp for veteran players.  

Clubs with new head coaches, however, are permitted to conduct two additional voluntary minicamps for veteran players.  There is no restriction on the number of minicamps a club may hold for rookie players.


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Chicago Bears exec George McCaskey kicks off “Football for Heart” program

George McCaskey, a grandson of Chicago Bears legendary founder George Halas, will become Chairman of the Board for the team in 2011. McCaskey recently visited nearby Gurrie Middle School to kick off the “Football for Heart” program sponsored by the Bears and the American Heart Association, according to the LaGrange Pioneer Local.

Gurrie is one of four schools in Illinois piloting the new football program, which promotes physical activity and raises funds for research to combat heart disease. Students gathered donations and spent a week of physical education classes playing flag football.

“The kids absolutely love it, and they were so excited when they found out that Mr. McCaskey was coming,” Gurrie physical education teacher Joe Pontrelli said, noting that the students raised more than $2,000.

“It looks great,” said McCaskey, who also signed autographs for the students. “I see a lot of enthusiasm, the kids are having fun, and the best thing is that the kids are moving.  It’s important to show people the Bears are behind programs like this. It promotes physical activity and good health.”

For the complete story, click here.

(Above: George McCaskey signing an autograph for a student, Sun-Times Media)

Texas coach Mack Brown thanks NFL Commissioner Goodell

University of Texas football coach Mack Brown (left in photo, with Gil Brandt, at Draft), who served as a special analyst on NFL Network’s 2010 NFL Draft coverage, thanked Commissioner Roger Goodell during the network’s interview with the Commissioner on Saturday.

“Commissioner,  my message would be from all college coaches… thank you,” Brown said. “Thank you for being so accessible to us.  I know when we call and have problems or questions you get back with us.  Your personnel executives are on the phone with us immediately to make sure we are all on the same page.

“I also want to say thank you for the class that you continue to bring to the NFL and the disciplinary action,” Brown continued.  “We are constantly telling our young guys that you can’t do this, and you can’t do that – and it will hurt you in the NFL Draft if you do.  You are backing those words up for us.  For the 120 Division I-A college football coaches in America, I would just like to say thank you.”

Fan: Group chat with NFL Commissioner Goodell “an amazing forum”

Mark Hale of the New York Post wrote today under the header “Local fans enjoyed talk with Goodell,” detailing Commissioner Roger Goodell’s 60-minute NFL Fan Forum prior to kicking off Day 3 of the draft on Saturday morning.

Goodell spoke with a sampling of season-ticket holders from nine teams about topics ranging from collective bargaining to making the game more fan friendly to a potential New York Super Bowl (video clip below, complete fan forum video will be available later this week).

Bruce Birns, whose family has had New York Giants season tickets for five decades, called the event “an amazing forum.”

For the complete story, click here.

Mara “drafts” writer to announce Giants’ pick, scribe “stunned”

Giants president John Mara selected Vinny DiTrani (left), longtime Giants beat writer for The Bergen Record, to announce the club’s fifth-round pick from the podium at the 2010 NFL Draft on Saturday.

“I was stunned. I was absolutely shocked,” DiTrani told Bergen Record colleague Paul Dottino in today’s paper. “It was mind-boggling to actually be on the stage at Radio City Music Hall … just to see some of the people in the league that were there, it was a great experience.”

“He has never lost his passion for telling his readers about the game, and the fact that his focus is still on the game makes him unique,” Mara said. “We think our fans appreciate his diligence and hard work and passion for the game. We certainly appreciate it, and this was a fitting way to acknowledge his 43 years of service to The Record and its readers.”

DiTrani, covering the team for the 34th season, called out Arkansas guard Mitch Petrus with the 147th overall selection.

“The whole thing was just numbing,” he said. “I wanted to make sure I thanked John and the organization and to make sure I got the name of the pick right.”

For the complete story, click here.

Goodell on primetime Draft: “Bigger platform great for everyone”; Day 2 ratings up 24%

Following record viewership for Thursday night’s Round 1 of the 2010 NFL Draft, overnight ratings jumped 24 percent for Friday night’s second- and third-round coverage on ESPN/ESPN2 and NFL Network.

More than 23 million fans tuned in to Thursday night’s first-ever primetime kickoff of Round 1 – a 48 percent increase over last year’s first round, which had a Saturday 4:00 PM start time.

“To see the kind of extraordinary increase in viewership I think does reinforce the idea that we can put the draft on a bigger platform,” Commissioner Roger Goodell (above with Patriots second-round draft choice Rob Gronkowski) told Richard Deitsch of SI.com at the Draft on Friday night. “That’s great for everyone.”

Fans can tune in today at 10:00 AM ET (NFL Network and ESPN) for Rounds 4-7 of the 2010 NFL Draft.

For the complete SI.com story, click here.

Dolphins “draft” fans for local volunteer projects

With the 2010 NFL Draft having kicked off Thursday, the Dolphins have begun “drafting” fans to take part in community projects with the team, according to Sarah Talalay of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

“The initiative is aimed at encouraging Dolphins fans to pledge hours volunteering with the team across South Florida – and beyond,” writes Talalay.

“This is a terrific opportunity to really put volunteerism on the map,” Dolphins Senior Vice President of Public Affairs Adam Grossman told Talalay. “We want to be a resource for people.  People feel great about giving back. That’s the fundamental commitment of our organization as well. We want as many people as possible to come along for the ride.”

Dolphins chairman Stephen Ross (left), who took over the club last year, has received numerous civic and philanthropic honors for his own volunteerism. He currently devotes time to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, the Levin Institute of the State University of New York, and the World Resources Institute, which focuses on protecting the environment.

For the complete Sun-Sentinel story, click here.

For more information on the Miami Dolphins’ “Special Teams” for fans, click here.