USAToday: Chargers 'devastated' by ex-DB Paul Oliver's suicide at 29    League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis, will air on FRONTLINE on October 8 & 15. Check your local listings    LA Times: Deion Sanders, critic of NFL concussion suits, seeks workers' comp    FOXSports: NFL, players reach proposed $765M settlement of concussion-related lawsuits    Sean Pamphilon's United States of Football in theaters starting Aug 23rd!    Washington Post: Do no harm: Who should bear the costs of retired NFL players’ medical bills?    You can catch all the posts and videos from our recent Third Annual Football Veterans Conference - everything now posted here on Dave's Blog!

EDITOR’S NOTE: In his usual detailed manner, Evan Weiner takes a very interesting look at ESPN and its long-standing business relationship with the NFL over the years and how it resulted in ESPN’s withdrawal from their partnership with PBS Frontline. The League of Denial documentary on football concussions is now front and center in the media – not exactly what they expected when they made that decision to pull out. Posted with the express consent of Evan Weiner:
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ESPN’s Football Faux Pas, NFL Concussions League of Denial
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By Evan Weiner
August 29, 2013
SportsTalkFlorida
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Goodell_WhaaaMake no mistake; the Walt Disney Company’s ESPN cable TV networks are not set up to be journalism bastions. There were two stories recently reported in the New York Times which clearly illustrated what ESPN is all about. Disney’s sports franchise pulled out of a partnership with PBS’s Frontline to produce a two-part series on head injuries suffered by NFL players. The New York Times reported that the National Football League pressured the very company that pays them billions of dollars to get out of the “League of Denial” presentation. The New York Times on Monday carried a piece on the paper’s front page about the ESPN partnership with the University of Louisville and how the company has been a critical component of the rise of the school’s football program.
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EDITOR’S NOTE: While Evan’s most recent story looks mostly at MLB, there are obvious repercussions when you consider the upcoming HGH testing agreement between the NFL and the NFLPA. And the idea of just how much power each League has to snoop into all details of players’ lives becomes an interesting discussion. Posted with the express consent of Evan Weiner:
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“Fraudsters” and Surveillance and Sports

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THE BUSINESS AND POLITICS OF SPORTS
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BY EVAN WEINER
COMMENTARY
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The NFL is in Crisis Mode

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THE BUSINESS AND POLITICS OF SPORTS
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BY EVAN WEINER
COMMENTARY
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The NFL job audition includes making the “suicide squad” rather than the special teams squad
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May 11, 2013
Examiner
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LIFE Suicide Squad Cover 1971The National Football League is open for business again. Players are on the field showing coaches that they can indeed play football even though the season is months away. The players showcasing their talents aren’t the normal, everyday players. No – these guys on the field are young guys trying to catch the eye of a coach and make a team and it doesn’t matter if they are first round draft picks or free agents hoping to just get to a training camp in July.
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Not much is said about the long term health of these guys; they are just anxious to play football. Another one-time former football player, George Sauer, Jr. passed away at 69 years of age this week from congestive heart failure and Alzheimer’s disease. There may be some unintentional irony in Sauer’s passing from Alzheimer’s disease as he walked away from the New York Jets and the National Football League after the 1970 season because he found pro football dehumanizing and it “both glorifies and destroys bodies” as he described in a 1983 article in the New York Times.
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Sauer was a wide receiver.
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The young guys trying to impress the coaches in all likelihood never heard of George Sauer. But they probably know Tedy Bruschi who played for the New England Patriots (1996 – 2008) and is now a football commentator on ESPN.
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EDITOR’S NOTE: Evan Weiner submitted a new piece from Grenada today discussing some of the NFL’s global expansion plans to continue the growth of their lucrative franchise outside of its monopolized American markets. Evan covers many of the reasons why there may be several hurdles the game itself needs to overcome but there’s also an Unintended Consequence from expanding to other countries where the NFL way of doing business won’t work. Our comments are at the bottom of this post.
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Posted with the express consent of Evan Weiner:

THE BUSINESS AND POLITICS OF SPORTS
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BY EVAN WEINER
COMMENTARY

NFL looks to England and Olympics while struggling for global traction

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THE BUSINESS AND POLITICS OF SPORTS
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BY EVAN WEINER
COMMENTARY

Ranchers, cattle and sports

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THE BUSINESS AND POLITICS OF SPORTS
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Saturday, 19 May 2011
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BY EVAN WEINER
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM
COMMENTARY
In 1905, United States President Theodore Roosevelt used the power of the bully pulpit by ordering the Presidents of Harvard, Yale and Princeton to the Oval Office so that the heads of the three schools would work together to clean up the game of football. There was some thought that President Roosevelt could actually ban the game although history suggests that Roosevelt liked football but was aware that new rules needed to be imposed to make football safe.
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In 1905, eighteen players died from injuries that were suffered on the field while another 149 were reported to have serious injuries. Roosevelt’s pressure produced a number of changes including the introduction of the forward pass, the distance to be gained for a first down increased from five to ten yards and all mass formations and gang tackling were banned.
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Roosevelt’s Oval Office meeting would eventually led to the formation of the National Collegiate Athletic Association and college football would grow in popularity with significant attention being paid to the college game coming in the 1920s.
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The game of football is again being scrutinized but neither the President of the United States not Congress is leading the charge. Instead more than a thousand former players are suing the National Football League claiming the league didn’t inform them of the risks of playing football and that they have suffered life altering injuries because of their service to the game.
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In some quarters the football industry looks to be under siege but it is hard to see how that is the case. Municipalities are still throwing money into building football facilities with the latest set of politicians being in St. Paul, Minnesota where the legislature and Governor Mark Dayton are willing to give the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings franchise at least a half a billion in taxpayers’ dollars to build a new stadium for the team. Cable TV networks are willing to fork over big dollars for college football and the public likes football. But there are some warning signs out there.
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“I think it is wrong to characterize it as under siege,” said Steve Hatchell, the President and CEO of the National Football Foundation. “The game has always been under siege. The whole aspect that we are talking about is that there are not hundreds but thousands of kids that are playing football that go on to have unbelievable lives of leadership, great productivity and do great things in our society.
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“The problem is that nobody really wants to listen to that. So it was as you talk about guys who played the game, guys who have been in the pros who do not have head injuries. That’s a whole separate story that needs to be addressed and needs to be juxtaposed to what you would call are the issues.
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“The issues themselves like concussions need to be addressed and it is being addressed. There are a lot of very fine people looking at that. Is it concussions, is it depression. Are there other aspects of this thing that require a great study?
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“So I think that there are a lot of ways to look at this that are far greater in their expanse than what is being looked at right now. The game has never been hotter, it has never been more than it has been accepted right now and there has never been a time where there are fantastic people playing the game who want to do great things in life.
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“We work hard to try to get that story out there, it’s just that nobody wants to listen to that.”
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In 1905, Harvard President Charles Eliot, who was no friend of Roosevelt, led the charge to ban football.
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One hundred seven years later, no one is calling for a ban on football but some people like former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman question how viable football might be in 20 years. But football’s vitality was questioned in 1905 as well.
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“It is not the same,” said Hatchell of the public debate in 1905 and the stories that are now coming out on the safety of the game from former players who were on the field in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and in the 21st century. “I think it is easy to draw it back into 1904 and say you got those issues. I think you can come up with a lot of statistics. There is football being played in a very intensive way all around the country, not just in the Ivy League where President Roosevelt had that concern. There were also other issues. Some of those kids who were in school at that time weren’t really in school or if there were there, there were basically as professional people.
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“It’s one of the reasons that the NCAA rule book is as big as it is. It is because of the rules that were violated or things that weren’t been done by Ivy League schools back in the early 1900s. I think now we are better equipped to take on the issues. I think we are better equipped to examine them than ever before. We will in a negative society where things are wrong and then you got to prove it backwards. We don’t tilt at that. We don’t think it is anywhere near where it was in 1904. There is better coverage on it right now of everything that goes on than what was ever before. So the negative find a good voice where the positives don’t find a voice at all. So I don’t think it is a fair comparison to go back to that span of time because it was very different and it is very different right now.
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“But the game now isn’t like it was then. We put a guy in the (College Football) Hall of Fame (William Lewis) from the late 1800s from Harvard who had already played at several different schools. He created the neutral zone. There were things like neutral zones or – this was a different kind of a game – it was very, very violent. The game is violent now and it has always been violent.
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“You don’t have to play the game of football if you don’t want to play it. Our whole point is, if you are going to examine the people who are playing the game who have the problems now, you also have to examine the guys who are playing the games now or in the past that didn’t have any issues. You got to have balance and there isn’t that balance out there right now.”
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So far, only former NFL players are threatening football’s structure and they are a fraction of the number of players who have been on the football field since the first college game between Princeton and Rutgers in 1869. On the horizon though is the potential for an onslaught of lawsuits from former players who performed on just the high school level or on the high school and college level. There is no question that public education in the United States is under attack from various interest groups and that school budgets have been slashed with music and the arts being eliminated. It could be that an expensive sport like football or hockey may face severe cuts because of higher insurance premiums and the fear of catastrophic injuries. Around the country, high school football is king but will it remain that way?
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“Oh sure, I think you have to look at all of those,” said Hatchell talking about the future of high school football in the United States. “But there have already made that decision in a lot of places to do away with band, anything that happens to be after school, not just football. Football is an easy one to target because there are a lot of expenses involved and you make up the rule that it is too dangerous or you are not getting the right coaching. It’s pretty convenient as opposed to how do how do you make it really work?
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“We (Hatchell) live in the state of Texas and high school football is not dropping off in the state of Texas. It has never been bigger. It has never been more significant than it is before. I think to say expenses are the way or the reasons to do away with things is wrong. Money is incredibly tight but we are talking about education and the other half of education that the High School Federation talks about. You got what you are doing in school and what you are doing after school and I think we need to have both in this society and I think they both have to be promoted. There are ways to get that done and we (the National football Foundation) work carefully with a lot of school districts around the country that try to keep football alive and well. It takes a lot of work.
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“Football is still awfully strong whether you are in Seattle or Washington or New Jersey football is pretty good football right now. I think there are great outposts of it around the country. Our whole point is this: Yes, let’s highlight what is negative and what needs to be repaired but on the other hand let’s highlight as well with the same passion, the good things that are happening in the game and the benefits that the kids have about going to colleges and doing a lot of other things. I think we can take advantage of that.”
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Football is a collision sport and not a contact sport. But that may not be the underlying problem for the future of football.
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“I think the bigger threat isn’t cost or injuries or anything to football,” said Hatchell. “I think it is the varied interests that kids have today. One of the burgeoning sports in the state of Texas today is lacrosse. Now it is a very big sport in the state of Texas. I think because of coverage and the coaching, there are a whole lot of other sports that are going to be emphasized greatly, the kids are going to have, they will not be limited to three of sports like when we were growing up. I think in 20 years (if football’s popularity wanes) it would be due to a general lack of interest as opposed to anything that has to be with injuries and other things. I think interests change and people move on.”
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Evan Weiner, the winner of the United States Sports Academy’s 2010 Ronald Reagan Media Award, is an author, radio-TV commentator and speaker on “The Politics of Sports Business.” His book, “The Business and Politics of Sports, Second Edition” is available at www.bickley.com or amazonkindle. He can be reached at evanjweiner@yahoo.com
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Posted with the express consent of Evan Weiner:

THE BUSINESS AND POLITICS OF SPORTS
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Wednesday, 9 May 2011
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BY EVAN WEINER
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM
COMMENTARY
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It is that time of the year when school boards have to get budgets in place for the new school calendar and the 2012-13 school year. The people who do the budgets and the people who vote on the budgets probably aren’t too worried about the 2012 high school football season but there will come a time when school districts will have to evaluate the value of fielding junior high and high school football teams.
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There is evidence that football is causing major health problems for former players later on in life. Some National Football League players have been quite vocal about post-career problems, which include depression, thoughts of suicide, family problems, bankruptcy, homelessness and for some – like Dave Duerson and Junior Seau – suicide.
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Following Seau’s death, a few former players went public with their post football plight on Dave Pear’s Blog. Pear has been fighting for years for the NFL to get medical benefits to pay for the injuries he says he suffered during his career. The injuries were numerous.
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The comments should be noted by school boards and others with a passing interest in watching football whether it is Friday night high school contests or Monday Night Football featuring two NFL teams.
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One-time Pittsburgh Steelers player Reggie Harrison, now known as Kamal Ali Salaam-El wrote, “Since we don’t have a crystal ball, we may never know what was going through Junior Seau’s mind. I have yet to entertain the thought of taking my life, but I can relate to the pain that a lot of us are going through. I take 10 methadone, 4 oxycodone and 2 ml of liquid oxycodone daily, and sometimes the pain still overtakes me. I just pray that I can hold on and lean on my fellow alumni if I feel that I can’t go on. My heart goes out to Junior and his family and I hope he has found Peace. I sure haven’t found it.”
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Former Los Angeles Rams player Rick Hayes responded to the former Steelers by writing, “Kamal, I believe we played against each other in the L.A. Coliseum during our Rookie Year in 1974 Pre-Season. I, too, have been in pain today following the news of Junior Seau, and I find myself wondering about the possibility of CTE being the cause. For the last month, I have missed two Brain Scans and MRIs because of fear and pain. Several months ago, I finally detoxed from a daily dose of over 1000 mg of oxycodone via the Subuxone method. I think of suicide almost daily. There were other pills too. I feel much better now but still question the pain and sleep disturbances.
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“In your note, I found the realization that these medications treat and cover our emotional traumas as much as our physical pain. And eventually, they stop working due to our Opioid Tolerance. I wish you, our fellow Former Players, and myself, a path through all this confusion. We are all one, but unfortunately the NFLPA is failing in providing us guidance and assistance. They are aware of our PAIN and ADDICTIONS. Now they are having SUICIDES thrown in their faces. When will they act truthfully and completely? The BLOOD is on the OWNERS and NFLPA’s hands.”
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Janet McCoy speaking on behalf of her husband Mike, who played for Green Bay, responded with a different viewpoint: the position of a wife with a suffering husband. She said, “I received a call from my husband yesterday when he received the news of another player’s death. Since Mike is in assisted living for his dementia, all he could do was weep when I answered the phone. I knew why he was crying even before he spoke. How many tears do the players, wives and families have to shed before the NFL takes notice? I would like to suggest that the NFL have a plan payment for mental health therapy after this. Most men are not able to express themselves when this tragic diagnosis is received. Blessings to all our families.”
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Former NFL players who have been broken down and left on the curb have a place to vent frustrations. The awful truth for the former players who are suffering is that the National Football league owners never let them down; their own Players Association is the culprit. The National Football League Players Association was so focused on just getting money that there were not secondary concerns about players’ safety or post career medical and insurance benefits. The owners and players collectively bargained agreements, and whether it was 1974, 1982 or 1987, the players’ negotiators — and in turn the players’ agents — wanted liberal free agency rules and money.
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That was a mistake for about 97 percent of the players. The owners legally are not bound to give players extended medical benefits. That should have been a collectively bargained issue. Broken down players are living in the government safety net of Social Security Disability Insurance and Medicare.
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It may be those are some of the lucky players who survived the funnel and made it into the National Football League. There are probably hundreds of thousands of players from the college, high school and semi-pro ranks who have suffered severe injuries and didn’t have a players association – albeit a weak group like the NFLPA – who never got a football pension or a partial medical plan and now are depending on government assistance for life-altering injuries.
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But there really isn’t much about the plight of high school players who are suffering from football injuries that is documented.
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High school football remains king in certain sections of the country but what would happen if former high school players suffering from devastating injuries started suing schools? Would school boards who are either self-insured or pay a huge premium keep the games going?
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That is a difficult question but that question may come an awful lot sooner than anyone thinks. The National Football League, along with a helmet manufacturer, is being sued by hundreds of former players who contend that the league didn’t look after players’ health during careers and in post-career life. The lawsuit involves just the NFL and former players at this point.
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Many people play football from the youth level on up to the pros. Many of those players will never have an opportunity to sue school boards even though the life-altering injuries took place on some high school football field.
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Football has always been a brutally tough sport.
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It seems the issue of players’ safety was settled in 1905 after President Theodore Roosevelt pressured a few college presidents into cleaning up the game after the deaths of 18 players in college games and the maiming of others.
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But did President Roosevelt and the college presidents really clean up the game or was the game “properly” sanitized, with the injuries swept under the rug?
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Until 2010, players’ safety didn’t seem to have been much of a priority on any level, whether it was high school, college or the National Football League. The NFL was very slow to get into the players’ safety issue, and the league finally started addressing head issues 105 years after President Roosevelt made the issue of player safety part of his presidency.
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The NFL is urging all 50 states to take a very close look at head injuries suffered in high school and other football programs for children. Whether it is lip service or not, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell sent out 44 letters to states urging them to enforce strict surveillance of head injuries. The league is continuing to beef up head injury protocol, but that is for future generations.
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The league is not taking responsibility for past injuries.
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But there is now a lawsuit and even though the players have directed their complaints against the National Football League, all of football is really on trial. That includes youth level, junior high school, high school, and college football. If the NFL and a helmet manufacturer lose this case, the whole structure of football will be shaken from the NFL down to kids’ football. The NFL depends on kids’ football as a feeder system into junior high school, then high school and colleges. The NFL gets ready-made players with years of experience. That could all change because school districts may decide running a football program is too costly in terms of insurance premiums and safety.
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If the school boards get rid of football, Troy Aikman’s words last February, looking at the NFL’s future, may be prophetic: “The long-term viability, to me anyway, is somewhat in question as far as what this game is going to look like 20 years from now.”
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Evan Weiner

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THE BUSINESS AND POLITICS OF SPORTS
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Wednesday, 2 May 2011
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BY EVAN WEINER
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM
COMMENTARY
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I didn’t know Junior Seau although I met him on the day he was drafted into the National Football League in 1990 and probably interviewed him after a football game a few times more. From all accounts, he was a fearsome presence on the football field; a killer who at times could control a game defensively.
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But Junior Seau didn’t live to be a ripe old age and until an autopsy is performed and a police investigation is complete, there is no need to speculate about the circumstances surrounding Seau’s death other than he was found dead of a shotgun wound on the morning of May 2, 2012 about 22 years after the San Diego Chargers football team called his name at the annual National Football League event.
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The gun wound should strike a nerve among former players. It seems that is becoming a way of life and death among NFL alum suffering from life altering injuries that probably came from years and years of absorbing hits on the football field. People do hear about former NFL players but there seems to be no tracking of high school and college players who years after their football careers ended killed themselves.
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THE BUSINESS AND POLITICS OF SPORTS
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NFL and NFLPA’s labor woes may not be over yet

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Tuesday, 02 August 2011
BY EVAN WEINER
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM
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The National Football League owners have a labor agreement with the present members of the reconstituted National Football League Players Association but it appears that the league still has problems with the players association’s stance on not helping out former players with their medical needs years after their last game in the league. The league apparently informed Carl Eller’s legal team on Friday that the-then decertified National Football League Players Association decided not to take a $500 million offer over ten-years to get retirees life football medical benefits and an uptick in pensions as part of the recently completed collective bargaining agreement.
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THE BUSINESS AND POLITICS OF SPORTS
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Handouts to NFL owners have been an absolute failure

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THE BUSINESS AND POLITICS OF SPORTS
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Former New York Jets great Marty Lyons says retired players need health benefits now
Thursday, 19 May 2011
BY EVAN WEINER
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM
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THE BUSINESS AND POLITICS OF SPORTS
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lyonsMarty0518111_optNEW YORK. N.Y. — In October 1987, New York Jets defensive lineman Marty Lyons decided to cross a picket line and play football because he didn’t like the way National Football League Players Association Executive Director Gene Upshaw was conducting the association’s business. The NFLPA went on strike looking for a liberalized form of free agency and more money. The NFLPA didn’t bother asking for after-career lifetime health benefits.
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Lyons has never looked back at his decision to cross the picket line and in hindsight thinks the 1987 four-week strike was a waste of time.
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“I don’t worry about it, I got more important things to do than worry about a labor dispute, worry about a lockout” said Lyons on Tuesday at the announcement that he was elected into the College Football Hall of Fame. “I got four kids, I try to be the best father, best husband that I can to them. Whatever happens in this dispute, they will settle it.
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THE BUSINESS AND POLITICS OF SPORTS
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Fans don’t matter in sports
Monday, 16 May 2011
BY EVAN WEINER
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM
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THE BUSINESS AND POLITICS OF SPORTS
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And so the National Football League lockout has become a version of the People’s Court. The good guys, the National Football League Players Association, are fighting for workers’ rights and are begging “fans” to help them lift the lockout. The owners, the bad guys, want to take away the players ability to make truckloads of money and are threatening their long term health care. Wait, the players have done such a great job in past collective bargaining agreements that former players lose health benefits five years after their playing careers are done and only if a player has three years in the league.
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The “People’s Court” is now playing in Minneapolis, Minnesota where United States District Judge David Doty is figuring out of the owners owe the players money over how the league managed to negotiate TV contracts to protect that side if in the event of a 2011 lockout. The players are seeking $707 million in damages. The fans will get ZERO if Judge Doty gives the players a monetary award even through a good chunk of that TV money comes from the cable TV subscriber-based ESPN and the satellite pay service DirecTV. In fact a good many people who never watch an NFL game on either ESPN or DirecTV are subsidizing the billions of dollars that ESPN and DirecTV pays the NFL.
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The chances are that Judge David Doty will not address relief for subscribers are great. Fans are not a part of the lockout equation. Cable TV subscribers never received a rebate in 1994 and 1995 when Major League Baseball shutdown the 1994 season and the National Hockey League’s lockout did not end until January leaving cable TV subscribers without a product from mid-September 1994 through January 1995. An awful lot of teams had local cable TV deals in 1994 and 1995 and subscribers were playing for something that they didn’t get. Programming in terms of games which they were charged for. In 1998-99, the National Basketball Association locked out the league players for about 30 games. Not one cable TV subscriber received a penny back for missed games. Interestingly enough the owner of the Golden State Warriors, Chris Cohan, tried to stiff the Oakland Alameda Coliseum Authority and not pay rent at the Oakland Arena during the NBA lockout.
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THE BUSINESS AND POLITICS OF SPORTS
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Covenant between fans and sports is a facade
Thursday, 12 May 2011
BY EVAN WEINER
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM
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NFL Smoke & Mirrors

It is almost laughable to hear sports owners and employees (coaches, front office executives and players) talk about their concerns for the fan, the mythical covenant that National Basketball Association Commissioner David Stern uses in biblical terms to explain the bond and trust that sports and fans have. It is a mere fantasy. Sports is a big business with cutthroats all about and the fan is the last to know.
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Sy Syms used to use a tag line in his television commercials in the New York market and other points in selling his clothes store saying that “an educated consumer is our best customer.” If that axiom was applied to the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League or big time college sports, anyone with any inkling of how the sports industry works would walk away before they were fleeced.
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Sports fans have online petitions, Facebook groups trying to show their muscle in an effort to put an end to the NFL lockout. They should devote their energies to other pursuits. Neither the owners nor the players care about sports fans except to lift money out of their pockets to pay for the debt service on a municipally built facility or for an autograph at some show.
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THE BUSINESS AND POLITICS OF SPORTS
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Two decades later, sports is out of whack
Tuesday, 3 May 2011
BY EVAN WEINER
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM
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About two decades ago, a tall man with an identifiable nasal twang was holding court at Gallagher’s Steak House one afternoon as he lifted a martini with a shaking hand to his mouth. The septuagenarian with a bad wig was standing near the slabs of meat that were hanging at the steak house and in a crescendo was complaining about the world of sports. The empty room began filling up as the man droned.
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“Sports is out of whack,” said the man with the familiar voice in a loudish way as he fumbled to take a sip of his martini. He was disgusted with the industry that he first entered in the 1950s as Willie Mays’ advisor.
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Last week was yet another week of vindication for the man who was despised by sportswriters for telling it like it is.
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The three — make that about five — events of the week of April 25-April 30, had nothing to do with actual games. There was the draft in a locked-out-then-open-for-business-then-locked-out National Football League.
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There was Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson moving as much earth as he could to try and keep the city’s National Basketball Association team in team in town despite the fact that the unemployment level had hit 12 percent in his region. At the same time he was rounding up $10 million in marketing partnership for the owners of the NBA Kings, the Maloof brothers, Johnson was cutting workers at the city’s police and fire departments and school administrators were trying to figure out whether they can keep sports going in Sacramento public schools.
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