Archive for October, 2010

Broncos-49ers in London highlights Week 8 schedule

Week 8 of the 2010 NFL season kicks off today with 12 games, including Denver vs. San Francisco in the NFL International Series at London’s Wembley Stadium.

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

Miami at Cincinnati 1:00 PM
Jacksonville at Dallas 1:00 PM
Washington at Detroit 1:00 PM
Buffalo at Kansas City 1:00 PM
Green Bay at N.Y. Jets 1:00 PM
Carolina at St. Louis 1:00 PM
Denver at San Francisco (London) 1:00 PM
Tennessee at San Diego 4:05 PM
Minnesota at New England 4:15 PM
Seattle at Oakland 4:15 PM
Tampa Bay at Arizona 4:15 PM
Pittsburgh at New Orleans 8:20 PM

Commissioner Goodell on CBA negotiations: “It’s about progress, and I would like to see more progress”

Commissioner Roger Goodell today spoke in London with United States media covering Sunday’s NFL International Series game – Denver vs. San Francisco — at Wembley Stadium (CBS, 1:00 PM ET).  Topics discussed included negotiations for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the impact of CBA uncertainty on the proposed 49ers stadium, the importance of player health and safety with stricter enforcement of rules against illegal hits, and increasing regular-season international games as part of an enhanced season.

“There are discussions going on,” Commissioner Goodell said of negotiations with the players’ union for a new CBA. “As I keep saying, it’s not just about discussions.  It’s about progress, and I would like to see more progress.  I think everyone has an interest in getting it done sooner rather than later. 

“We’ve been very clear about the fact that the longer it goes, the harder it gets,” he continued. “We’ve also made the point that revenue will start decreasing.  It probably already has in certain categories.  As that revenue decreases, it’s less money to be able to negotiate over.  So it will be harder to get a labor agreement at some point.  Plus, and I think you’re seeing it already with the decertification, they’ll pursue litigation strategies. I’ve often said this is going to be about collective bargaining.”

Commissioner Goodell noted that a new CBA is necessary to allow for investment in new stadiums.  “There has not been a stadium agreement since the 2006 CBA was signed,” the Commissioner said. “The only stadiums that have been built were on line or already on the ground – Kansas City, Dallas and the New York stadium – since 2000. Since this new CBA was put in place, it makes it even more challenging to get a stadium built, and then you add the economy on top of it.  It’s a difficult environment to get stadiums built and that is sort of the core – the investment that the ownership is making to generate revenue.”

Following is the complete transcript of the Commissioner’s session with the media:
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News from around the sports industry: NBA teams for sale

The following story ran in today’s New York Post:

NBA’s $450M score: Pistons go to Ilitch

By Josh Kosman

Mike Ilitch, owner of the Detroit Tigers and Red Wings, is the last remaining bidder for the NBA’s Detroit Pistons — and has emerged as the likely buyer of the storied 53-year-old franchise, The Post has learned.

The billionaire, who earned his fortune through the family-owned Little Caesars Pizza chain, is expected to seal the deal with a bid of more than $450 million, according to one source.

However, a second person familiar with the deal claimed the final price will be less than that, once last-minute negotiations are completed.

While the Pistons seem to have a savior, the same cannot be said of the league.

Last week NBA Commissioner David Stern floated the possibility that some teams may be folded to reduce player costs by as much as $800 million — ahead of talks for a new labor deal at season’s end.

In the past year, as many as nine teams — or about 30 percent of the league — have been put on the block.

And several of the teams have seen a less-than-rabid response from bidders. In fact, four other teams may not find buyers, sources said.
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Blackouts up 63 percent vs. 2009

Three games will blacked out in home cities this weekend bringing to 13 the number of blackouts through eight weeks this season – a 63 percent increase from the eight games that were blacked out through Week 8 in 2009.  For the complete 2009 NFL season, there were 22 blackouts. 

“I think the economy is really hurting our fans,” NFL executive vice president Eric Grubman told The Washington Post last month. “We know it. We see it. We hear it. They tell us they’re not leaving for good. They’re just staying at home.”

In 2008 there was there was one blackout through Week 8 and nine for the entire season.

Commissioner Goodell: “Restructured season would allow for more international games”

Commissioner Goodell spoke this morning at the Global Sport Summit in London which is one of the many special events leading up to Sunday’s International Series game — Denver vs. San Francisco — at Wembley Stadium (CBS, 1 PM ET).

The Commissioner was asked about the possibility of multiple international games in future seasons.

“It’s all part of a greater strategy, but we evaluated very closely whether we’d play multiple games here in the UK, starting this season,” Commissioner Goodell said. “We didn’t because of where we are in terms of our Collective Bargaining Agreement with our players, which expires at the end of this season.  We felt that we had to fix that priority before we engaged in multiple games here, but it is very much our intent to be playing multiple games here.”

“That’s one of the reasons we’re looking at the restructured season that would allow us to add two more regular season games, which would be beneficial in expanding our regular season International Series,” the Commissioner added.  “Then it’s just a question of the growth in the marketplace, and that’s why we believe playing multiple games will demonstrate that there is a strong foundation here for American football.  Fans want to see it.  Partners that will support it – including our media partners and sponsors and licensees – when you can get to that point, I think you’ve given yourself a great deal of confidence that a franchise here would be successful. We’re moving right on down that paradigm.”

Following is a transcript of Commissioner Goodell’s comments at this morning’s discussion.
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Pittsburgh Tribune-Review on NFL action with stricter enforcement against illegal hits: “It only got better”

Columnist Joe Starkey writes in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review of the exciting Week 7 action, noting that the games “only got better” after Commissioner Roger Goodell announced stricter enforcement of the current rules against illegal hits.

“That was the NFL’s miracle last weekend,” Starkey writes. “Instead of serving up a softer, weaker product — which many feared in the wake of threatened suspensions for head shots — the league proved why it is king of American sport and why that isn’t going to change anytime soon, lockout or no lockout. It only got better.

“The NFL had produced its highest-scoring weekend since 1983, spiced with a slew of nail-biting finishes,” Starkey continued. “And not a single player went over the line far enough to draw a hefty fine, never mind a suspension.”

Steelers’ linebacker James Farrior (above) and safety Ryan Clark both discussed the issue.

“No doubt about it,” Farrior said. “You just have to play within the rules and know what the refs are looking for.”

Clark spoke of a sideline tackle he made in Sunday’s game. “I did make sure I lowered my aiming point to not hit him in the head, but it was still a good tackle,” Clark said in an interview with 93.7 The Fan radio. “(In other areas of the field), you definitely have to make sure there’s no possible way you have helmet-to-helmet contact, not only for the safety of the game but also for your team.”

Concluded Starkey: “And if it so happens that helmet-to-helmet contact is unavoidable, or precipitated by the receiver, and a player is unjustly fined, so be it. The Steelers will survive. The NFL will flourish. It might even get better.”

For the complete story, click here.

Ravens president Dick Cass on CBA negotiations: “There’s a great deal of work ahead, but I think we’ll get it done”

Baltimore Ravens president Dick Cass yesterday discussed a wide range of topics on Baltimore’s WBAL-Radio, including the labor negotiations and player health and safety.

“We’re working hard with the Players Association to reach an agreement,” Cass said in the interview, as reported by the Baltimore Sun. “There’s a great deal of work to get done, but I think we’ll get it done.”

Cass (at left in photo with Navy head football coach Ken Niumatalolo), in speaking about the potential enhanced season, noted that the league will review the 12-month NFL calendar and take “steps to make sure the practices are safer. … In the end, players have to agree [for] an 18-game season [to be adopted]. It is subject to collective bargaining. The players and the union have to be satisfied this can be done safely.”

For the complete Baltimore Sun story on the interview, click here.

Commissioner Goodell speech on protecting youth athletes from concussions sent nationwide by CDC

 “WE CAN MAKE SPORTS SAFER THAN THEY ARE TODAY”

 

Commissioner Roger Goodell spoke at the “Keep Youth Sports Safe” conference at the Seattle Seahawks’ offices earlier this month. At the conference, Commissioner Goodell met Zack Lystedt and his family and announced that the Lystedt Law, which protects young athletes from returning to play too soon after a concussion, is a league priority.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) this week has circulated video of the Commissioner’s speech (above) to its member organizations and their thousands of participants.

“We will share our medical expertise broadly to benefit athletes in every single sport,” Commissioner Goodell said in the speech.  “I have made it a league priority to keep this effort going until all 50 states pass Zackery’s law or find a way to do something just as significant. The NFL believes we can make sports safer than they are today.”

The video concludes with Zackery Lystedt, who was permitted to play in a game following a concussion and suffered life-threatening injuries, noting the importance of the effort. “It means the world to me,” Zackery said.

A poster created by the NFL and the CDC to educate young athletes on concussions was unveiled at the conference in Seattle and is available through the CDC.

To order the free poster and to learn how you can get involved to help keep kids and teens safe from concussion, visit www.cdc.gov/Concussion or contact CDC by email (CDC-INFO@cdc.gov) or toll-free at 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636).

Players agree with stricter enforcement of rules against illegal hits

On the first Sunday after Commissioner Roger Goodell announced stricter enforcement of the current rules against illegal hits, there were no penalties for illegal hits to the head.

“I’ve seen a change in behavior in one week,” NFL vice president of officiating Carl Johnson told Peter King in his SI.com Monday Morning Quarterback column.

Added NFL executive vice president of football operations Ray Anderson in an interview with The Associated Press, “We’re off to a good start in terms of the new emphasis and the recognition that we are going to play aggressively but well within the rules.”

Over the past few days a number of current and former players spoke out on the issue, many in support of more strictly enforcing the rules.  Below are some of those comments.

“I applaud the NFL in looking for ways to eliminate those unnecessary, malicious hits. I don’t think they really have a place in the game.” – Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers (NBC’s Football Night in America, 10/24)

“I leave it up to the NFL to make the rules that they need to make.  Now, I will do my job.  I have kids to take care of.  I respect the fact that guys are giving their opinions, but at the end of the day, if your boss tells you that you can still do your job but you have to tweak things a little bit, then you change and you do your job.  I’m tired of guys crying and complaining that the game is going to flag football.” – New York Jets defensive tackle Kris Jenkins (CBS’ The NFL Today, 10/24)

“If our players are playing within the rules and for the Commissioner and for the NFL to say that they are going to increase fines because hits seem to be vicious or violent I think it’s ridiculous and I think the skirts need to be taken off in the NFL offices.” – Former center and NFLPA president Kevin Mawae (ESPN Radio-Los Angeles, 10/22)

“I understand what the league is doing and I agree with it.  There is a right way to hit someone and a wrong way. The league has to walk a fine line to make that distinction but still allow the game to be football…  It’s not my job to monitor how justice is done, but I’m glad something was done.” – Baltimore tight end Todd Heap on stricter enforcement of rules and the resulting fine issued for the hit to the head he suffered in Week 6 (New York Times, 10/25)

“Guys have to change their mentality. We’ve got to really start taking care of each other. There’s got to be something in your mind that says, ‘I shouldn’t be hitting this guy in his head and leading with my head.’” – New York Giants defensive end Justin Tuck (New York Times, 10/24)

 “I think something needs to be done. It’s getting kind of out of hand.” – New York Giants tight end Kevin Boss (New York Times, 10/24)

“When they took away hitting the quarterback below the knees or in the head, it was an easy adjustment for us. The rules have changed, so adjust and if not, get out of the game. It is very simple. If you are going to go home so fast, then go home, but we cannot have players laid out on the field. It is something that we don’t want to see.” – Former defensive tackle and NFL Network analyst Warren Sapp (NFL Network’s NFL GameDay Morning, 10/24)

Week 7 kicks off with 13 Sunday games

Week 7 of the 2010 NFL season kicks off today with 13 games.

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

Cincinnati at Atlanta 1:00 PM
Buffalo at Baltimore 1:00 PM
San Francisco at Carolina 1:00 PM
Washington at Chicago 1:00 PM
Jacksonville at Kansas City 1:00 PM
Pittsburgh at Miami 1:00 PM
Cleveland at New Orleans 1:00 PM
St. Louis at Tampa Bay 1:00 PM
Philadelphia at Tennessee 1:00 PM
Arizona at Seattle 4:05 PM
New England at San Diego 4:15 PM
Oakland at Denver 4:15 PM
Minnesota at Green Bay 8:20 PM