Archive for June, 2010

New CBA for Canadian Football League features fixed player costs and allows league to invest in growth

The Canadian Football League and the CFL Players Association yesterday ratified a new, four-year collective bargaining agreement.

“This agreement provides for increases in salary and benefits for our players, while replacing the model for player compensation with one that establishes reasonable, fixed costs,” said Michael Copeland, chief operating officer of the CFL, according to The Canadian Press. “That represents a much stronger business model for our teams, one that lays a very strong foundation.”

“We’re moving forward together under an agreement that helps our players and helps our league,” said CFLPA president Stu Laird.

“The agreement replaces a provision that had required the league to devote at least 56 percent of defined gross revenue to players’ salaries with [one that now provides for] negotiated minimum team salary and annual increases in the salary cap,” The Canadian Press reported. “This change allows teams to retain incremental revenues as they build their franchises, and it ensures players that the salary cap will grow.”

“The league is in a position now where we can truly invest in growth,” said CFL Commissioner Mark Cohon in the Toronto Sun.

For the complete report from The Canadian Press, click here.

For the complete Toronto Sun story, click here.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Goodell places his imprint on the league”

“When Roger Goodell (left) was named the NFL’s commissioner in August of 2006,” writes D. Orlando Ledbetter in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “he told team owners he would focus on the quality of the game, fielding 32 strong teams and innovation.

“There is little doubt that in four years Goodell has firmly placed his imprint on the league while conducting it into the 21st century,” Ledbetter continues. “Virtually no area of how the league operates has been untouched.”

Among the accomplishments cited by Ledbetter: a new personal conduct policy, the new modified sudden death overtime rules for the playoffs, moving the Pro Bowl to the week prior to Super Bowl, the Fan Code of Conduct, the concept of an enhanced season, moving the NFL Draft first round into weeknight primetime, and the proposal to “strengthen the human growth hormone testing program in labor negotiations.”

For Ledbetter’s story, click here.

For Ledbetter’s list of innovations in the past four years, click here.

Commissioner Goodell speaks at NFL Rookie Symposium

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell talked with the 2010 NFL Draft class Sunday night at the Rookie Symposium in Carlsbad, CA.  Goodell noted that the Symposium is the start of working with players to transition into the NFL and beyond the NFL. He also stressed that it starts with being good men.

Following his talk with the players, Goodell spoke with the media on topics including a rookie wage scale, CBA talks, player safety, and personal conduct.

Below is a transcript of the Commissioner’s session with the media.
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New York Giants president John Mara reflects on Giants Stadium

New York Giants president John Mara (right) took his final tour of Giants Stadium in April before demolition of the stadium began, writes John Branch in today’s New York Times.

Mara recalled the first game in the stadium on October 10, 1976 and his father’s reaction to the 13-7 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.

“I remember being in the locker room with my father afterward, and how disappointed he was,” he said of Wellington Mara, who co-owned the team from 1930 (at age 14) until his death in 2005. “And I remember Marty Schottenheimer, who was our defensive coordinator, walking up to him in the locker room and saying, ‘I’m sorry we ruined your day, Mr. Mara.’ And he said, ‘Oh, you didn’t ruin it.’ But he wasn’t telling the truth.”

John Mara, wrote Branch, spent much of his final visit to the stadium in his father’s old office – which John occupied since 2006.

“I stood there for a while,” Mara told Branch. “It was tough. It was tough. We got all of his pictures out, but it was tough. Because that was his office. It wasn’t really mine. I was just borrowing it for a while.”

With the remainder of Giants Stadium being cleared in the coming weeks, Mara is ready to move on.

“I’ve spent a lot of emotion on it already,” Mara said. “Now I’m just ready for it to come down.”

For the complete story, click here.

Jacksonville Jaguars owners Wayne and Delores Barr Weaver honored by Junior Achievement

Earlier this week, Jacksonville Jaguars owners Wayne and Delores Barr Weaver (left) were honored by Junior Achievement of North Florida with the 2010 Thompson S. Baker “Solid as a Rock” Award. The award celebrates the accomplishments of individuals who have shown outstanding leadership through civic and philanthropic works that have positively influenced business and education in the Jacksonville community.

 “The Weavers have had a substantial impact on Jacksonville since the November 20, 1993 announcement of the franchise of the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jaguars are without doubt their most public accomplishment,” said Steve St. Amand, President of Junior Achievement of North Florida. “Their most important accomplishments, however, are measured in terms of lives saved, lives changed, low-income homes built, teen pregnancies prevented, equalization of the playing field for women, cancer research, and a myriad of other positives they have brought to our community.”

For the complete story, click here.

NFL-USO Coaches Tour to Persian Gulf launches in the coming weeks

Former and current NFL head coaches Jon Gruden (far left), Bill Cowher (second from left), Jeff Fisher (third from left), Tom Coughlin (third from right) and John Harbaugh (far right) pose for a photo with Vice President Joe Biden (center) and his son, Captain Beau Biden (second from right) on inaugural NFL-USO Coaches Tour in 2009.

Supporting the military is part of the fabric of the NFL.  This support takes place both abroad and at home, with NFL players and coaches traveling overseas to salute the troops, as well as teams recognizing the dedication and sacrifice of our servicemen and women around Veterans Day and throughout the year.

Four current NFL coaches will continue a tradition that started last year as they embark on an NFL-USO Coaches Tour this summer.  Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress; Panthers Head Coach John Fox; Bengals Head Coach Marvin Lewis; and Eagles Head Coach Andy Reid will travel within the coming weeks to meet and greet members of the U.S. military for several days in the Persian Gulf.

“Since my son has enlisted in the Marine Corps, I have learned a new appreciation for the freedoms we all enjoy and take for granted,” said Childress. “Our armed forces are the most highly-skilled, best-trained men and women in the world. Their character is on display on a daily basis because they’re an all-volunteer force. We all owe them a debt of gratitude and this trip is a small way of saying thank you.”

The NFL and USO have organized overseas morale-building visits for more than 40 years. In 1966, the NFL teamed with the USO and became the first sports organization to send a group of players to Vietnam and other parts of Asia to demonstrate the league’s support for America’s troops.

In 2008, Commissioner Roger Goodell became the first sports commissioner to participate in a USO tour.  The first NFL-USO tour of 2010, held in March, featured four Pro Bowl players – San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis, Cleveland Browns tackle Joe Thomas, Houston Texans defensive end Mario Williams, and Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten. The group’s nine-day trip took them to Afghanistan and Qatar.

For the complete story, click here.

Hines Ward: Active and retired players get “great opportunity” at NFL Broadcast Boot Camp

Twenty five current and former NFL players are getting an immersion course in the broadcasting business in the four-day NFL Broadcast Boot Camp, which concludes today at NFL Films in Mt. Laurel, NJ.

“A lot of guys want to explore the avenues of life after football so it’s a great opportunity,” Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Hines Ward (above) said in an interview with the Philadelphia Daily News. “You still want to be a part of the game. This is the best way to do it and also get compensated for it.”

Free agent linebacker Jeremiah Trotter, who has played 11 NFL seasons, told the Daily News that he appreciates the education.

“We are getting a lot of information from top-name guys and we’re learning a lot,” Trotter said of the faculty that includes CBS’ James Brown, ESPN’s Ron Jaworski and FOX’s Curt Menefee. “We are getting the opportunity to build our resume, put some tapes up and learn a lot. They are teaching us all aspects of broadcasting.”

For the complete story, click here.

South Florida Super Bowl Host Committee releases economic impact study

A study released Monday by the South Florida Super Bowl Host Committee found that Super Bowl XLIV and the 2010 Pro Bowl in South Florida generated $333 million for local businesses.  The study was conducted by the West Palm Beach-based Sport Management Research Institute

“Every major city in America wishes they had a Pro Bowl and Super Bowl on their books for February 2010. We were fortunate to have that kind of business,” South Florida Host Committee Chairman Rodney Barreto said.

South Florida is hoping to attract future Super Bowls and Pro Bowls to the area and has unveiled renderings of potential upgrades to Sun Life Stadium in order to do so.

Dolphins CEO Mike Dee said the team, which spent $300 million on stadium upgrades in the past five years, cannot make the investment in stadium renovations by itself.

“There has to be a public-private component to this. There has to be some participation if we’re going to finish the job,” Dee said, adding the team is studying funding options and expects to present its ideas in September. “All those ideas are going to need to be under the category of the community wanting to do this.”

For the complete story, click here.

Washington Post: NFL Officials Meet With WADA

NFL officials met last week with representatives of the World Anti-Doping Agency at the WADA offices in Montreal, writes Mark Maske of the Washington Post.  A wide range of topics were discussed, including testing for human growth hormone and the implications of the “StarCaps” case.

“This was part of an ongoing effort to strengthen our relationship with WADA and find ways we can work together,” said Adolpho Birch, NFL vice president of labor policy and player development. “We’ve done it before.”

“First and foremost, we want to maintain a strong and effective policy that has the full support of our players and our union,” Birch said about the two decade old NFL-run steroid-testing program in cooperation with the players’ union that has been praised by Capitol Hill lawmakers as being the best in professional sports. “That is our primary goal. We’ve had some issues in that respect, and we are looking at every opportunity to ensure our policy is meaningful. But our first priority is certainly to come to an agreement with the union.”

In regards to blood-testing of players for HGH, Birch said meetings with WADA left him convinced that such a process could be implemented effectively.

“I am increasingly comfortable it could be done in a way in which any difficulties would not be too onerous,” Birch said. “It could be done.”

For the complete story, click here.

Below is a complete transcript of Adolpho Birch’s interview with Mark Maske.
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Does This Make $ense?

CBA Special Master Stephen Burbank ruled over the weekend that the forfeiture provisions in the CBA barred enforcement of contract promises by two rookie free agents in 2009 to repay their signing bonuses if they failed to perform.

Both players – Miami Dolphins rookie free agents Jared Bronson of Central Washington and SirVincent Rogers of Houston – quit last summer after signing their rookie contracts. Bronson, a tight end who received an $8,000 signing bonus, did not even report to camp. Rogers, a tackle who received a $7,000 signing bonus, quit after five days, saying he did not want to play football. In this proceeding, as in the past, the union sought to nullify the players’ promises to repay their signing bonuses if they failed to perform.

The CBA provisions on which the union relied are essentially the same as those involved in the Michael Vick and Plaxico Burress cases. Professor Burbank ruled in favor of the NFL in the Vick case, but Judge David Doty overturned the decision. Judge Doty maintains oversight under the terms of the 1993 settlement that resulted in the current CBA system. In this most recent case, the Special Master ruled for the union based on prior interpretations of the CBA, refusing to enforce the players’ contract promises that they freely negotiated.

“The CBA was never intended to allow players who violate their contracts, commit crimes, or quit on their teams to keep bonus money paid to them in good faith by the clubs, whether it’s $7,000 or much more,” said NFL Executive Vice President Jeff Pash.  “This is money that should be available to rookies and veterans who actually perform, but the union has continually sought rulings that allow players who breach their contracts to take the money and run. The illogical and unintended consequences of these rulings are one of the many reasons why the current CBA needs to be changed. We are committed to addressing this issue in our negotiations with the NFLPA and reaching a CBA that prevents these kinds of results in the future.”