There was a “sports business summit” here in New York on Tuesday, and NBA exec Adam Silver, who’ll be taking over the commissioner’s office from David Stern in February, was one of the speakers.
As you may recall, Silver is the architect of the league’s on-again/off-again uni-advertising plan, which he’s been pushing over Stern’s objections. The current status of that plan is hard to divine. It was originally slated to be implemented for the 2013-14 season (i.e., a month and a half from now), but then the league backed off of that. At first the widespread assumption was that they’d simply push the plan back one year to 2014-15, in part to get some logistical ducks in a row and in part to wait until Silver had officially replaced Stern in the commissioner’s chair. But the 2014-15 time frame was never officially announced, and there are indications that the plan is in limbo. When the league recently announced that it would allow ads on the court apron, for example, ESPN’s Darren Rovell wrote, “[The apron ads are] in lieu of putting corporate logos on jerseys, a proposal that has somewhat stalled.”
So what did Silver have to say about uni ads on Tuesday? There are several quotes from him in this article, but good luck trying to read the tea leaves — it’s a maddenly inconclusive piece. If you read it closely, Silver doesn’t say the NBA will necessarily start wearing ad patches in 2014-15, or even ever. This passage is typical:
Silver suggested that we could soon see the compromise of advertisements being installed on the court just as the NCAA and NHL do. If brands do begin to appear on jerseys, they won’t be the focal point of the design. “It’s a balance,” Silver said.
It’s not clear if the term “compromise” was used by Silver (which would be a serious indication that he’s listening to those of us who’ve protested the possibility of uni ads) or if it was just some interpretive license by the writer (which would mean nothing at all). Either way, Silver’s tone here sounds a lot less uni-aggressive than it has in the past.
Since Stern is known to oppose jersey ads, this might be a case of Silver striking a respectful tone of moderation until Stern has gone off to the glue factory. Or maybe Silver’s being intentionally low-key so as not to provoke the kind of grass-roots outrage that galvanized when he first raised the prospect of uniform ads. Or maybe the uni-advertising plan really is up in the air at the moment.
In any case, this little episode is a good wake-up call for everyone who’d gotten complacent about this issue. Zero uni-advertising tolerance! #NoUniAds
’Skins Watch: Big news yesterday, as NFL commish Roger Goodell pretty much put the writing on the wall for all to see.
As recently as late June — a mere two and a half months ago — Goodell was still putting up a good front, saying the ’Skins name was “a unifying force that stands for strength, courage, pride and respect.” But yesterday, when asked about the team’s name during an an appearance on a DC radio show, he said, “If we are offending one person, we need to be listening and making sure that we’re doing the right things to try to address that.”
That’s it, people — it’s over. That statement was basically Goodell clearing his throat before he and the other owners tell Dan Snyder that this fight isn’t worth it, that they’re not going to take the hit for Snyder’s hubris. You can bet the other owners don’t want to see protests being convened outside their stadiums every time Snyder’s team comes to town (like the one planned for this Sunday for the Packers’ home opener), and the whole league must be shuddering at the thought of the ’Skins actually making it to the Super Bowl, where all the corporate sponsors will demand Goodell’s head on a stick if their carefully orchestrated marketing schemes end up being overshadowed by two weeks of anti-’Skins activism. At this point it no longer matters whether Goodell or the other owners think the name is offensive; all that matters to the NFL is business, and the ’Skins name has become bad for business. Soon it will be downright toxic.
Do I think the team name will change this year, or next? No. But it’s going to happen, and sooner than later. When a guy like Goodell goes from “a unifying force that stands for strength” to “we need to be listening,” that means the wheels are already turning. A blind man could see it with a cane. All that’s left now is the face-saving endgame.
Meanwhile, in other ’Skins-related news: Lots of folks have been sending me this photo over the past few days — sometimes linked from Twitter, sometimes from Facebook, sometimes from assorted blogs. I haven’t posted it or said anything about it because it’s not a current photo — definitely not from this season (the Iggles hadn’t yet played the ’Skins when I first started receiving the photo), and I think not from last season either. But the mere fact that it’s apparently circulating quite a bit at the moment is noteworthy, and indicates that people are becoming more aware of how Native American mascots are inappropriate, which is good to see. … Syracuse Post-Standard columnist Bud Poliquin is the latest to call for the ’Skins name to be changed (from Mike Hurley). … Ditto for for Yorkton News Review columnist Chase Ruttig (thanks, Phil). … Back on Monday I said I’d been told that Max Kellerman, host of ESPN2’s SportsNation, was boycotting the ’Skins name, but I didn’t have any confirmation. That now comes from Christopher Falvey, who writes: “I was offhandedly watching SportsNation on Wednsday night and Max Kellerman called the Redskins ‘the professional football
team that plays in Washington.’ The clip had barely anything to do with them — they were interviewing Terell Owens about the Eagles.” … Meanwhile, a writer for an African-American site says the movement to get the team’s name changed is just “an agenda.” He’s right about that, of course — the agenda is to get the team’s name changed, simple as that (from Oscar Cullom).
A day late, but hopefully not a pint short: Yesterday was Sept. 11, so MLB teams wore American flags on their caps. As I mentioned in yesterday’s entry (and have mentioned many other times over the years), I think this is lazy pandering on the part of MLB and an inappropriate gesture on a day of mourning. Several of you sent me emails taking issue with that point. For the most part, we agreed to disagree, but one reader, who prefers to remain anonymous, said, “Instead of criticizing MLB, why not suggest something constructive for 9/11?”
Excellent point. So here’s a story: After the towers fell 12 years ago yesterday, there was a big call for blood donors. I’d never donated blood before, but it seemed like a good idea, so I did it. It felt good to be helping out, even if only by sitting there with a needle in my arm. As it turned out, they didn’t need extra blood after all, because there were no survivors at the towers — only victims. But the hospital system always needs blood anyway, and I was surprised by how good it felt to donate, so I went back and did it again two months later (the minimum time they allow between donations). On that second visit, they had me fill out the paperwork to get a donor’s card, which you see above.
With a couple of exceptions, I’ve continued to give blood every two months for the past dozen years. Every single time, I’ve thought about Sept. 11, and how if my blood ends up helping even one person, then at least a little good will have come out of the tragedy. And if what I’ve written here persuades any of you to donate blood as well, then so much the better.
I should have posted this yesterday, not today. Thanks for your patience, and doubleplusthanks to the reader who suggested the more proactive approach.
Baseball News: In addition to all the other MLB teams wearing flag-clad caps, the Mets wore first responder caps during batting practice last night. They used to wear those caps during games on Sept. 11, but that’s no longer allowed, because it’s a violation of MLB’s licensing agreement with New Era. Douchebags. … Here’s an assessment of the top 10 minor league logos. … Lots of Yankees go high-cuffed, but who was the last Yank to wear stirrups? Not sure, but I’m assuming the next Yankee to wear ’rups will be newly acquired infielder Brendan Ryan, who has often gone stirrups-clad with the Cardinals and Mariners. Looking forward to seeing how he suits up with the Bronx Bombers. … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: Here’s a video of Hawk Harrelson talking about, among other things, how he helped pioneer the use of batting gloves (from Keith Adelsberger). … While looking for something else, I stumbled upon this absolutely magnificent 1953 Cardinals scorecard cover design. Yowza! … Indians pitcher Rich Hill didn’t have a squatchee yesterday (good spot by Kevin Bresnahan). … Good slideshow on the Red Sox’s beards. … Jose Fernandez and a Marlins bench coach were wearing different uni combos during last night’s game (from Alex Argenio).
NFL News: Throwbacks on tap this Sunday for the Bears (thanks, Phil). … Bad job on my part, as my Monday NFL wrap-up from earlier this week didn’t include the news that the Rams debuted their Deacon Jones memorial decal. Mea culpa. … Repeated from yesterday’s comments: The NFL now says it shouldn’t have told Robert Griffin III to cover up his knee brace. … The Bengals will be wearing solid black next Monday (thanks, Phil). … White-out on tap this weekend for the Texans. It’s worth remembering that the Texans originally unveiled white helmets prior to their first season but then changed to blue. Those white ones would look good this weekend, no? … Key passage from this Jets article: “The Jets will not wear throwbacks in 2013. After donning white jerseys in their Week 1 win over the Bucs, the Jets will wear their green jerseys for the rest of their home schedule — starting in Week 3 against the Bills. Green will be team’s jersey color in Miami on Dec. 29, but the Jets will be white for the first seven road contests. As far as pants, the Jets will wear white for at least the first month of the season and then it becomes a weekly decision” (big thanks, Phil). … This is completely fascinating: The Seahawks will have undercover cops wearing opposing teams’ jerseys to
entrap nail unruly fans (Phil yet again).
College Football News: Here’s what Wyoming will be wearing this weekend (thanks, Phil). … Also from Phil: Flag-desecration helmets on tap for for UNC and Wingate, and a Sept. 11 memorial decal for TCU. … Interesting analysis of why helmets keep flying off. … In case you hadn’t heard, those new lightweight pants don’t leave much to the imagination (Phil yet again). … A couple of high schools — not sure where — are using Navy’s old helmet template. “Seems pretty fancy for a high school to me,” says Will Hodge.
Hockey News: Check out this cover design from a 1975 edition of Toronto Star’s weekend entertainment guide. The team shown on the left is the Toronto Toros of the WHA. “The 1975-76 season would be their last year in Toronto,” says Terry Proctor. “They moved to Birmingham the next season and became the Bulls. The Toros had great uniforms though. Love the serif-top ‘A.'” … Here are the jeseys for the All-American Prospects Game (thanks, Phil). … The Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL) will unveil a full-scale makeover on Sept. 20. They’ve been running teaser images here (from Cody Schmidt).
Grab Bag: Pascagoula High School in Mississippi honored two deceased players with helmet decals and — here’s the unusual part — by blacking out the yard markers corresponding to their uni numbers (from Chris Forehand). … A Virginia school district may sell the naming rights to its high school football stadium (from Tommy Turner). … “One of my friends is about to graduate from the Florida Highway Patrol Academy,” says Frank Manganello. “Interesting that they chose a window decal that was clearly made to look like an embroidered patch.” … Note to Seattle readers: Membership card designer Scott M.X. Turner’s band, RebelMart, will be playing on Tuesday, Sept. 24, at the Comet. … Retro unis on tap for the Santa Cruz Warriors of the D-League. ‘The image on the jersey is of the Giant Dipper roller coaster,” explains Michael Goodman.