Archive for September, 2010

Kickoff Sunday features 13 games

The Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints kicked off the season in front of a record television audience on Thursday night.

Today marks the first Sunday of regular season action with a slate of 13 games that includes six division matchups.

Following is today’s game schedule (all times ET):

Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills 1:00 PM
Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears 1:00 PM
Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans 1:00 PM
Denver Broncos at Jacksonville Jaguars 1:00 PM
Cincinnati Bengals at New England Patriots 1:00 PM
Carolina Panthers at New York Giants 1:00 PM
Atlanta Falcons at Pittsburgh Steelers 1:00 PM
Arizona Cardinals at St. Louis Rams 1:00 PM
Cleveland Browns at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1:00 PM
Oakland Raiders at Tennessee Titans 1:00 PM
Green Bay Packers at Philadelphia Eagles 4:15 PM
San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks 4:15 PM
Dallas Cowboys at Washington Redskins 8:20 PM

Arthur Blank on Falcons fans: “I deeply appreciate the support they have given us”

Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank (left) discussed his appreciation of the team’s fans and the enhanced season in a recent Q&A with Falcons beat writer D. Orlando Ledbetter in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“I deeply appreciate the support that they have given us these last three or four years during some difficult times,” Blank said of Falcons fans. “I try to do whatever I can to recognize their support.”

The fans, Blank added, will benefit from the enhanced season.

“The enhanced season is in response to really listening to our fans,” he said. “They don’t put the kind of value on the preseason games as obviously they would a regular season game. They think four is too many. The commissioner, I think more than any other complaint, he probably hears that. We are trying to be responsive to our fans. But by the same token, we have to be sensitive to player issues and player safety and health and getting teams prepared for a longer season. We need to be sensitive to our media partners as well.”

For the complete Q&A, click here.

Commissioner Goodell: Kevin Mawae “set a standard of excellence”

Kevin Mawae, a 16-year NFL veteran who was selected to eight Pro Bowls, announced his retirement as a player today. Mawae is the president of the NFL Players Association.

Commissioner Roger Goodell issued the following statement:

“It was good to see Kevin last night on the field prior to last night’s game in New Orleans. With today’s news, I want to congratulate Kevin on behalf of the entire NFL for 16 truly outstanding years as an NFL player. As one of only two centers in league history selected to play in eight Pro Bowls, he set a standard of excellence at his position that will be difficult to match.  Kevin’s greatest legacy, however, is the inspiration he provided as a leader both of his teammates and fellow NFL players, and as a leader in the community, where he did so much great work helping other people. We salute Kevin and look forward to working with him as president of the NFL Players Association to get a Collective Bargaining Agreement that protects and enhances our great game.”

Back to Football: 2010 NFL season kicks off tonight

America’s favorite sport is back in action tonight (NBC, 8:30 PM ET) with the first game of NFL Kickoff 2010 Weekend.  This year’s contest features a rematch of last season’s NFC Championship Game as the Super Bowl XLIV champion New Orleans Saints host the NFC North champion Minnesota Vikings.

The opening-night festivities begin with “The Krewe of NFL Kickoff Parade” and “NFL Kickoff 2010 Presented by EA Sports,” a free concert open to the public in New Orleans’ Jackson Square that features Grammy Award-winning artists Dave Matthews Band and Taylor Swift.  There will be simulcast coverage of the one-hour pregame show from 7:30-8:30 PM ET on NBC and NFL Network.

For more on NFL Kickoff 2010 Weekend, click here.

MSNBC host critical of AFL-CIO leader’s support of NFLPA

MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell was critical of AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka’s support of the NFLPA in an interview on “Morning Joe” today.

“Exactly how many minutes of your day do you spend worrying about million-dollar football players?” O’Donnell said to Trumka. “Is this the biggest waste of your attention that could possibly come your way? Is it embarrassing for you to have to talk about these guys?…These are the people who the President of the AFL-CIO worries about, workers who make over $300,000 per year at a minimum?”

For more, click here.

Commissioner Goodell: CBA deal “easier to make between now and March”

Commissioner Roger Goodell on ESPN Radio’s Mike and Mike show this morning discussed a wide range of topics including negotiations for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

“There’s really a window here,” Commissioner Goodell (right) said. “This deal is going to be easier to make between now and March. Once we get to March it just becomes more complicated and more difficult. We really need to work hard in the next several months to get something that works for the players, works for the owners and works for the game.

“You get into when you don’t have a system and potentially you start getting a loss of revenues,” the Commissioner continued. “When you have a loss of revenues, there’s less money for us to negotiate over. That’s always a harder situation for anyone to negotiate in. We think that opportunity is now between here and the March period.”

Following is a transcript of the complete interview:
Read more

Jets owner Woody Johnson to be honored tonight by 9/11 Memorial group

New York Jets owner and CEO Woody Johnson (left) tonight will be honored before approximately 1,000 guests by the 9/11 Memorial organization at a Wall Street event to benefit the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.

Johnson is being recognized for “Distinction in Corporate Citizenship.” New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is the Chairman of the 9/11 Memorial and will host tonight’s benefit which is expected to raise $3 million.

The National September 11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center is scheduled to open September 11, 2012 and Museum officials expect it to draw seven million visitors a year. It will bear witness to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and February 26, 1993. The Museum will honor the nearly 3,000 victims of these attacks and all those who risked their lives to save others.

For more information on the 9/11 Memorial, click here.

Sports Business Journal: NFL’s focus on improving game experience “a credit to teams and the league”

“An opinion piece in the September 6 issue of Sports Business Journal is written under the header “NFL’s focus is on the fan.”

“At a roundtable of NFL team and league executives,” the editorial begins, “a listener easily could have wondered whether he had wandered into a forum on improving customer service. Welcome to the NFL, circa 2010. While there are many challenges to increasing market share and revenue, one element of the conversation clearly stood out: ‘We had better treat our fans better, offer them more, smile and say thank you, or else …’”

“So the emphasis this season from those in the room is on improving the game experience,” the story continued.

“It’s a credit to teams and the league that they are thinking this way,” the editorial concluded, “because a property as successful as the NFL could easily be taking things for granted.”

For the complete story, click here.

Hall of Famers to take part in Buffalo Bills Alumni weekend

The Buffalo Bills Alumni Foundation will host 17 Pro Football Hall of Famers – 16 players and one owner – as part of its three-day Kickoff Weekend events, Jay Skurksi of the Buffalo News reports.

“The alumni weekend is traditionally the foundation’s marquee fundraiser,” Skurksi writes. “In the past 20 years, the group has raised more than $1 million for numerous local charities.”

Bills owner Ralph Wilson (Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2009) is expected to attend and will be joined by Bills Hall of Famers Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, Billy Shaw and Joe DeLamielleure.

“The Bills have been great in supporting this, and I think Mr. Wilson (above right, with Thurman Thomas) is excited to see some of the guys,” said alumni weekend coordinator Charley Ferguson, who played four seasons at receiver for the Bills in the 1960s and serves as treasurer for the Bills Alumni Foundation.

The three-day event features a VIP gala on Saturday, a tailgate party before the Bills’ home opener against Miami on Sunday and the alumni foundation’s annual Celebrity Charity Golf Classic next Monday. The Hall of Famers will be introduced to the crowd at Ralph Wilson Stadium prior to kickoff.

Buffalo Prep, a charitable organization that prepares motivated, economically disadvantaged minority students for success in high school and college, will be the major beneficiary of the weekend’s events.

For the complete story, click here.

Boston Globe: Patriots owner Robert Kraft “pushing mutual interest in labor issues”

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, right, shakes hands with former player Sam Cunningham as Cunningham is inducted into the team's hall of fame during a preseason ceremony

Boston Globe national NFL writer Albert Breer discusses labor issues with New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft in today’s issue under the headline “Kraft pushing mutual interest in labor issues.”

“Things are different in America today,” Kraft told Breer. “I know the fan base is hurting financially, and that’s why we have to continue to give them real value for their money. The trick of success is adding value to your product, and we’re trying to continuously do that.”

“We know we have something special. We’re not trying to take advantage of [the union], or get an edge,” Kraft continued. “We’re trying to make it right so we can continue to grow revenue. If one side has an edge, this isn’t going to work.’’

“It’s about mutual education and understanding, and if both sides act in good faith, we can get something done,” Kraft concludes. “The stakes are too high. We can’t be playing chicken with one another. We have something so good, so unique. In these economic times, with so many businesses fading or cutting back, we have the opportunity to grow. We want to take advantage of that.’’