Tuesday, August 08, 2006

With Roger Goodell, NFL Returns To Its Sports Marketing Focus

When NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue was selected 17-years ago it was the first time the league went for a legal-head rather than a media or PR expert. Commissioner Tagliabue was a lawyer for the league and in my view, his selection was right for its time: the NFL needed a sharp legal mind to cope with the complicated issues of franchise movement, Super Bowl event price gouging problems, and more and more complex television relationships.

Paul Tagliabue ushered in the era of the lawyer in sports. But as much as he did this, Roger Goodell represents a new time, when the NFL and other sports leagues have staffs advanced enough such that one can be employed from within and to the job of commissioner.

Roger -- as I've personally referred to him for several years, and now must call him Commissioner Goodell -- was groomed for the position of NFL Commissioner. None other than ex-Oakland Raiders Executive Assistant Al LoCasale told me this over lunch in 1997, when he was teaching me NFL politics and history. "He's going to be commissioner some day," LoCasale said with great certainty.

He was right -- but then he always was.

But lets think about what it means to be "groomed." It means that Roger had a mentor -- Paul Tagliabue. It means that Roger either sat in on, or eventually ran, meetings on very important matters, from the TV contract to realignment, to collective bargaining. It means that Roger's seen every aspect of not just the operation of the NFL, but the negotiations and planning that shape the World's most successful professional sports league.

It also means that in Roger, the league not only gets continuity, but a return to its sports marketing focus. I don't expect big immediate changes in how the league does what it does, but I do look for more innovation in its new media efforts, and more expansion -- into Europe and China, but not so much that the league over extends itself.

I also expect the set of power relationships between owner and commissioner to change. The one thing I noticed was that Commissioner Tagliabue had more conversations at league parties I attended with more established NFL Owners like Pat Bolen, who owns the Denver Broncos, than with Seahawks owner Paul Allen.

Goodell will certainly alter this just a bit just by his style and orientation; I look for owners like Dallas Cowboys' head Jerry Jones to have more influence and be more of an insider given his historically aggressive push for more and greater revenues from marketing and sponsorship -- something Goodell himself has focused on.

The one question that remains is how Roger's going to handle the matter of getting a team into LA. My read is that Mike Ovitz is wrong -- Roger does want a team in LA, but under NFL terms: public money, and a renovated LA Coliseum. A newly created NFL expansion franchise is what Roger wants to see, but absent that, I'm willing to bet he'll back the Raiders return to Los Angeles, especially if the City of Oakland doesn't get it's act together.

Getting a team in LA is something I know Roger wants to do. Getting it done will be the first success in what will be a career full of them.


NFL Commissioner Search | Roger Goodell Oddsmakers Favorite To Win Job | About Roger Goodell

Goodell chosen as NFL's new commissioner

NFL.com wire reports
NORTHBROOK, Ill. (Aug. 8, 2006) -- Roger Goodell was chosen as the NFL's next commissioner Tuesday, succeeding the man who groomed him for the job, Paul Tagliabue.

The 47-year-old Goodell worked his way from a public relations intern to perhaps the most powerful job in American sports. Favored for months to get the job, he was unanimously elected by the league's 32 owners on the fifth ballot.

The son of former U.S. Sen. Charles Goodell of New York, he has been Tagliabue's top assistant, particularly on expansion and stadium construction. In 2000, he became the NFL's chief operating officer.

Goodell becomes the league's fourth commissioner since 1946.

"We've had the two greatest sports commissioners in the history of professional sports, Paul Tagliabue and Pete Rozelle, and I was fortunate to work for both of them," Goodell said. "I look forward to the challenge and thank them again for their confidence."

Tagliabue served 17 years, and during that time the league's revenues have skyrocketed. The NFL will collect about $10 billion in TV rights fees during the next six years, and enjoys labor peace with the players' association.

"Replacing Paul was not easy, and I think we've done a great job in selecting Roger," said Redskins owner Daniel Snyder. "The NFL is a complex business. Finding the right person to keep it on course was critical, and we did it."

Goodell beat four other finalists: lawyers Gregg Levy and Frederick Nance; Fidelity Investments vice chairman Robert Reynolds; and Constellation Energy chairman Mayo Shattuck III.

Goodell wasn't certain when he will assume office, although Tagliabue planned to leave the job this month.

"I believe in continuity," said Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay. "It's a lot like with head coaches, and that's what Roger brings us."

Goodell's election was much less complicated than when Tagliabue was chosen in 1989. It took seven months to select a successor to Rozelle. Originally, the top choice appeared to be Saints president Jim Finks, who was recommended by an advisory committee. But many of the newer owners would not back Finks, the choice of most of the old-line owners.

It took 12 ballots over a seven-month period -- six ballots on Oct. 26, 1989 -- to finally elect Tagliabue.

That wasn't the case with Goodell, who was chosen Tuesday in three hours of voting.

"The process was good in that it got everyone looking ahead and not just at the circumstances in their own city," Tagliabue said.

Tagliabue simply introduced Goodell as the new commissioner Tuesday night, then stepped aside as his No. 1 aide took the podium.

"I spent my life following my passion," Goodell said. "The game of football is the most important thing. You can never forget that."


NFL- 8/7/06 BRIAN McCARTHY, NFL, 212-450-2069

Emily Golin, Arnold Communications,
617-587-8911, egolin@arn.com


BALTIMORE and NEW YORK -- The National Football League has named Under Armour, Inc. (NASDAQ: UARM), an authorized supplier of footwear, it was announced today.

The designation, part of a multi-year agreement that also includes advertising and marketing commitments with NFL Network, NFL.com and the NFL’s broadcast partners, enables Under Armour to supply NFL players with branded footwear for use during games. In addition, the company may use NFL and club logos to promote its footwear

Under Armour joins Reebok and Nike as authorized footwear suppliers of the NFL. NFL players may wear any brand of footwear during games, but must tape over company logos if the shoes are not provided by authorized NFL footwear suppliers.

“We are pleased to add Under Armour to the select group of companies that have onfield rights with the NFL,” said Roger Goodell, the NFL’s executive vice president and chief operating officer. “We look forward to working with Under Armour, which is an exciting, fast-growing company with a strong history in football.”

"This is a partnership that will officially bring Under Armour's superior technology to the prestigious main stage that is the National Football League," said Under Armour Chairman, CEO and President, Kevin Plank. "This is the pinnacle of on-field authenticity and the partnership helps accomplish our mission to deliver the very best performance products to all levels of athletes. Now we have an official presence on Sundays with the best players in the world to complement the scores of student athletes wearing our products on Saturdays and under the Friday night lights."

NFL and Under Armour

Under Armour, known as the originator of moisture wicking performance apparel worn by athletes, launched its first line of footwear—football cleats and slides--during the NFL draft this past April with a major media campaign entitled CLICK-CLACK™, a reference to the sound cleats make on concrete just before the players step on the field. NFL players from that campaign include 2006 first-round draft picks A.J. Hawk (Green Bay Packers) and Vernon Davis (San Francisco 49ers) in addition to Jeremy Bloom, the former Olympic freestyle skier drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles and veterans Julius
Jones (Dallas Cowboys) and Jonathan Vilma (New York Jets).

"We believe this partnership is the next logical chapter in the Under Armour brand story,” said Plank, a former special teams captain on the University of Maryland football team who founded Under Armour in 1996. “We're especially proud that our strong financial performance enables us to make this investment within the budgetary parameters we have previously outlined for our long-term growth."

In addition to related marketing expenditures, Under Armour has agreed to provide the NFL with the opportunity to purchase up to 480,000 shares of Under Armour's Class A Common stock in future years at a price equal to the closing price on the NASDAQ the day before the agreement was signed in August of 2006.

About Under Armour, Inc.

Under Armour® (NASDAQ: UARM) is a leading developer, marketer and distributor of branded performance apparel, footwear and accessories. The brand's moisture-wicking synthetic fabrications are engineered in many different designs and styles for wear in nearly every climate to provide a performance alternative to traditional natural fiber products. The Company's products are sold worldwide and worn by professional football, baseball, and soccer players, as well as athletes in major collegiate and Olympic sports. The Under Armour European headquarters is located in Amsterdam's Olympic Stadium,
and its global headquarters is located in Baltimore, MD. For further information, please visit the Company's website at www.underarmour.com
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280 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
(212) 450-2000 * FAX (212) 681-7573

Joe Browne, Executive Vice President-Communications
Greg Aiello, Vice President-Public Relations

NFL-47 8/7/06

RAY ANDERSON, one of the most highly respected executives in the National Football League, has
been named NFL senior vice president of football operations, Commissioner PAUL TAGLIABUE
announced today.

Anderson becomes the NFL's senior football executive, the position previously held by ART SHELL,
who returned to the sidelines this season as the head coach of the Oakland Raiders.
Anderson’s areas of responsibility will include all NFL football operations, including officiating and the
NFL Europe League.

The 52-year-old Anderson, a three-year football letterman at Stanford, joins the NFL after spending
the past four years as the executive vice president and chief administrative officer of the Atlanta
Falcons. He worked closely with Falcons' President RICH MC KAY and was responsible for
overseeing the team’s player contracts, the salary cap, legal matters, facilities, equipment, video,
logistic and travel functions.

Anderson joined the Falcons from the coaches division of Octagon, where he served as a sports
agent for NFL coaches and players. He represented several current NFL head coaches.
In November of 2002, Anderson was named to the NFL Committee on Workplace Diversity by
Commissioner Tagliabue. A year later he was named to Sports Illustrated’s list of the "101 Most
Influential Minorities in Sports."

A native of Los Angeles, Anderson was an all-league high school quarterback and shortstop. As a
scholarship athlete, he played both football and baseball at Stanford, earning a political science
degree in 1976. In 1979, he graduated from Harvard Law School.

Anderson began his professional career as an attorney at Kilpatrick & Cody in Atlanta, working
primarily in labor law litigation. In 1987 he launched his own sports agency, AR Sports, specializing
in the representation of NFL coaches and players, which merged with Octagon in 2001.

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Houston Texans: Founded October 6, 1999

In this video, Houston's officially awarded the 32nd franchise in the National Football League at the Fall NFL Owners Meeting, beating out Michael Ovitz bid to bring a team to Los Angeles. In light of the upcoming selection of the new commissioner of the NFL, it's worth taking a time out to see Commissioner Tagliabue at the work of awarding a new franchise to a greatful Bob McNair and the City of Houston.

NFL Commissioner Search: ESPN Thinks Goodell's a Shoe-In

Contrary to Profootballtalk.com, ESPN thinks Roger Goodell's a lock for commissioner

NORTHBROOK, Ill. -- In a meteorological stroke of good fortune, the skies over O'Hare Airport were brilliantly sunny on Monday morning and most NFL owners, convening here for the purpose of selecting a successor to retiring commissioner Paul Tagliabue, arrived on time for the start of the session.

Which could mean clear sailing for the candidacy of Roger Goodell, the first lieutenant to Tagliabue for the last several years, the man who clearly rates as an overwhelming favorite in a five-horse race.

In 1989, stormy weather and a glitch in the O'Hare radar system delayed the arrival of several owners, as they were scheduled to huddle at an airport hotel to debate the merits of New Orleans general manager and football lifer Jim Finks, the clear-cut choice to succeed Pete Rozelle as commissioner. As the flight delays lengthened, and liquor tabs at the hotel bar mounted, so did the opposition to Finks by a contingent of younger owners who felt they hadn't enjoyed much input into the process.

The more the dissident group, which came to be known as the "Chicago 11," spoke, the less chance Finks had of ever landing the position for which he was supposed to have been rubber-stamped. His candidacy essentially vanished from the radar screen that day and, four months later, after a drawn-out and pitched battle, the league elected Tagliabue, who had served as its out-of-house counsel.

There was one similarity here Monday, with owners interviewing Gregg Levy, a Washington attorney who holds the same position Tagliabue did in the Covington and Burling law firm. Levy is one of the finalists selected last week from what began with a ponderous contingent of nearly 200 commissioner wannabes. But unlike 1989, the selection doesn't figure to take four months this time.

"I think there's a chance that we'll be done [on Tuesday]," said Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney, co-chairman of the eight-man selection committee which winnowed the list. "A good chance."

If that is the case, this meeting, originally scheduled by the league to last as many as three days, probably will have turned into a coronation of sorts for Goodell, the NFL's chief operating officer and a man who has played an integral role in most of its most important accomplishments in recent years. In fact, when the list of five candidates was released on July 30, some owners reacted to the absence of league insiders Jeffrey Pash and Eric Grubman as finalists by suggesting that the search committee chose the quintets with an eye toward not siphoning off potential Goodell votes with their inclusion.

Others responded with an undeniable "Who's he?" reaction to at least three of five candidates.

Everyone, of course, knows Goodell and the key role he has played with the league. Levy, who represented the NFL in the Maurice Clarett antitrust lawsuit, is familiar to most owners as well. But the three other men -- Cleveland attorney Fred Nance, Fidelity Investments chief operating officer Robert Reynolds, and Mayo A. Shattuck III, chairman of the board of Constellation Energy -- are virtual unknowns.

Or at least they were until Monday, when all five candidates were presented to the full membership.

A sixth finalist, Domino's Pizza chief executive officer David Brandon, withdrew his candidacy before his name was ever announced. Brandon had been identified by ESPN's Chris Mortensen as a finalist.

Each of the finalists had 15-20 minutes to present himself on Monday and were questioned for another 15-20 by the owners, with each man being asked the same thing. The executive search firm Korn Ferry International, which helped to both amass and whittle the initial list of candidates, presented detailed dossiers on each of the finalists. On Tuesday, the candidates will meet with owners in smaller forums, with four groups of eight owners each, and the questions are expected to be much more wide-ranging.

A vote could come as early as Tuesday afternoon. It takes the votes of two-thirds of the owners, or 22 of 32, to elect a commissioner.

"It's been a good and thorough process," said Jets owner Woody Johnson, a member of the search committee, "and that process is moving forward here today. But in matters this important, I'm not going to be drawn into making any predictions."

Most owners acknowledged that Goodell, 47, probably has the necessary votes in hand. But no one was about to say that publicly on Monday.

"I'm not going to be surprised by anything this week," Tagliabue said.

If there is anyone with a semi-legitimate chance of upsetting Goodell it is almost certainly Levy, who was described by one source as "probably the smartest guy in the room."

Said one NFC owner: "No matter how worthy or viable the rest of the candidates appear to be, I just can't fathom us putting the league in the hands of a guy we've only known for a couple hours. You can read all the reports in the world, complete all the due diligence, but the bottom line is, they're outsiders. And I don't know that it's prudent to stir the pot with a person who isn't very familiar with us, and with whom we are not all that familiar, either. So, yeah, I'd say the tea leaves look pretty good [for Goodell]."

That said, strange things often transpire when the NFL huddles to select a commissioner, as evidenced in the cases of both Rozelle and Tagliabue.

There are, it seems, two potential hurdles for Goodell, the son of former U.S. Senator Charles Goodell of New York: First, there remains a block of low-revenue owners whose dissatisfaction with the recent extension to the collective bargaining agreement, an accord with which Goodell was crucial, is still festering. But those same owners, who are concerned with the status quo, backed down when it came time to endorse the CBA extension; they tend to be more about bluster than action. Second, there is a group of general managers and other front office executives who feel the time is appropriate for a commissioner with more of a football than business background.

But the reality is that owners, not GMs, elect the commissioner. And the owners appear poised to elect Goodell as the next caretaker of their $6 billion-a-year industry.

As usual in commissioner elections, though, there remains a scintilla of intrigue -- but probably not much more than that.

Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay, whose late father, Bob, was part of the "Chicago 11" that scuttled Finks' ascension to the NFL throne in 1989, acknowledged things should be smoother this time. But, in typical Irsay fashion, he leaned on a rock analogy to sound a somewhat cautionary tone.

"You would assume it shouldn't be as fractious [as in 1989]," Irsay said, "but as the late Jim Morrison (of The Doors) said: 'The future is always uncertain but the end is always near.' So we'll see."

Senior writer Len Pasquarelli covers the NFL for ESPN.com.

NFL Commissioner Search: Procedure For Electing A Commissioner - ESPN

ESPN's Len Pasquarelli reported on this newly adopted resolution...

By a unanimous 32-0 vote, NFL owners on Monday adopted the following resolution, which establishes the procedure for electing a commissioner, with balloting possibly beginning as early as Tuesday afternoon:

Whereas, the ability of the league's membership to reach a decision to select the next commissioner may be enhanced with specified procedures, be it resolved that:

1. The initial rounds of voting will be conducted by secret ballot;
2. If no candidate receives the necessary 22 votes on any of the first three ballots, those three ballots, at a minimum, will include all five candidates nominated by the search committee;
3. During the voting process, it may become evident that additional voting procedures should be implemented in order to reach a membership consensus; and
4. The commissioner, in consultation with the search committee, will weigh membership views and determine whether to follow procedures such as (for example) the following:
a) dropping the candidate(s) with the fewest votes from one or more subsequent ballots;
b) implementing an open roll-call vote;
c) having the full membership rank the candidates in order of preference; and
d) other similar procedural steps.

-- Len Pasquarelli

Roger Goodell - Some Owners Opposed To Him Because of Process - Profootballtalk.com

This came from Profootballtalk.com


As the 32 owners meet in Chicago on a so-called "one per club" basis (i.e., the room will have only 32 chairs), we're hearing that there very well could be a move by owners against the installation of Roger Goodell as the successor to Paul Tagliabue.

While some teams, we're told, are opposed to Goodell on the merits of whether he's the best candidate, a larger number of teams are miffed about the process. Andrea Kremer of NBC reported last night that one owner expressed concern regarding the "transparency" of the effort that, by all appearances, has set the table for Goodell.

As we hear it, there's a growing perception that the process has not been "fair, open, or above board."

The thinking is that Tagliabue helped steer the eight-member selection committee toward a list of five finalists from which Goodell would be the obvious choice. But even though Tagliabue has tried his best to put Goodell in position to get the job, we're also told that some league insiders believe that NFL outside counsel Gregg Levy was added to the list of five finalists in order to give Tagliabue a fallback candidate if Goodell can't win the support of 22 of 32 teams. Under this scenario, if Goodell can't get the votes, then Levy would acquire Tags' support, since Tagliabue's primary objective (we hear) is to get a new Commissioner in place, so that he can then ride off into the sunset.

We're hearing that there has been "a lot of chatter" about Levy over the past couple of weeks, and that he could indeed emerge as a compromise candidate.

Whether a compromise candidate is even necessary depends on whether enough owners mount an open charge against Goodell. Though there has been no overt lobbying for another candidate in the run up to the meeting, the undercurrent of frustration regarding the process, which as we hear it includes consternation as to the perception that the owners are limited by the list of hand-picked finalists, could bubble over.

If that happens, then the question becomes whether anyone can muster 22 votes in a three-day meeting. The owners proved in March that they can reach a consensus when the chips are down; however, this time around they have the luxury of time. Sure, Tagliabue might not like it if they can't git 'r done by Wednesday.

But what's he gonna do, vacate the office?

We're also told that there's another candidate who opted out of placement on the list of finalists because he didn't want to publicly make it to the last cut and then fail. We're trying to find out who the sixth finalist is, since there's a chance that he could end up right back in the mix if none of the five who are currently under consideration get the job.

Finally, we're told that the voting by the owners will occur on a "to be determined ad hoc basis" involving a combination of open voting and secret ballot. To the extent that secret ballots will be used, one of the Big 4 accounting firms is on hand to verify the results.

Stay tuned.

Chicago Bears Training Camp - Rex Grossman

Bears Training Camp 51.jpg, originally uploaded by Wahooo.

This is a photo from the Chicago Bears training camp scrimage and taken by "Wahooo!" on Flickr. It shows Bears starting QB Rex Grossman ready to pick up where he left off before being injured in a preseason game against the St. Louis Rams last year. Purdue Rookie Kyle Orton took over for most of the year.

The video features a pitch to the running back Adrian Peterson from Grossman. But watch how the lineman rise to tell Grossman something before the play. Is that something we will see more of in the NFL, and without a call for false-start?