|Friday, September 27
Barristers of the ball games
By Darren Rovell
Ulice Payne replaced Wendy Selig-Prieb, Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig's daughter, this week as the Milwaukee Brewers' new president and chief executive. Payne was the managing partner of the Milwaukee branch of the law firm Foley & Lardner, where his predecessor Selig-Prieb worked from 1988 to 1990, but the firm's involvement in baseball goes far beyond the Brewers.
Foley & Lardner, which has nearly 1,000 attorneys in 16 U.S. markets, recently has represented Major League Baseball in the antitrust investigation by Florida Attorney General Bob Butterworth and in a suit filed by the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission to prevent the league from contracting the Minnesota Twins.
"Obviously the firm is going to have work from the league because before I took a job here, I was representing baseball as their outside counsel," DuPuy told ESPN.com earlier this year. DuPuy worked as Selig's personal lawyer and served as prinicipal outside counsel to the commissioner from 1992-1998. Although he has an office at the firm in Milwaukee, DuPuy, who has taught legal ethics at Marquette, Northwestern and University of Wisconsin-Madison, said he receives no money from the firm now, but uses the office space when consulting on legal ethics issues.
"The (baseball team) owners are very aware of the work the firm gets," DuPuy said. "On the annual financial statements, there is a full disclosure in a footnote that says that I am a dormant partner and that I get no compensation from the firm."
DuPuy says there is also no arrangement to compensate him for the firm's work with Major League Baseball after his tenure with the league is completed.
"The only way there would be some ethical problem would be if he and Foley & Lardner entered into a clandestine agreement where he would agree to financially sever his ties with a 'wink, wink' and then they would kick back a percentage from all the business they got from baseball," said Dan Blinka, who teaches legal ethics at Marquette Law School.
Said DuPuy: "A couple months ago, they charged me $1.65 for making copies on the copy machine."
It is common for firms of top league executives to get work.
Covington & Burling has been the outside counsel for the NFL for more than 30 years. That relationship has been solidified by the fact that NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue and Jeffrey Pash, the league's executive vice president, are former partners in the firm.
It's also not surprising that the law firm of Proskauer Rose is outside counsel for both the NBA and NHL. NBA commissioner David Stern was a partner in the firm before he left for the league. Bettman followed him there before becoming the NHL's commissioner.
Letting the donations roll in
Thanks to donations made by fans on NASCAR.com and an eBay auction for autographed Labonte items, including the helmet and driver suit he used in the race, the total donation to the foundation figures to surpass $300,000, said Dave Alpern, vice president of marketing for Joe Gibbs Racing.
"Joe said that the only way he would do this is that if nobody made a penny on it," Alpern said.
The Beamer Foundation focuses on children who lost parents on Sept. 11. Todd Beamer's phrase "Let's Roll" was overheard by a phone operator while he and other passengers tried to foil the terrorists on Flight 93, which crashed in Shanksville, Pa.
"No one at this level has ever donated all their profits," said Dave Coyle, director of marketing for the Todd Beamer Foundation. "The only level of commitment you see like this is when there's a school bake sale."
Coyle said there are no more immediate plans to use the "Let's Roll" slogan in the sports world.
Although Florida State football coach Bobby Bowden has designated the slogan as the team's slogan this year and players wear "Let's Roll" shirts under their jerseys, Florida State elected not to license anything in conjunction with the Todd Beamer Foundation.
"The university doesn't want to profit in any way from the charity, nor does it want to support any particular foundation over another," said Sherri Dye, director of trademark licensing at Florida State. A local retailer in Tallahassee, Garnet & Gold, worked out a relationship with the Beamer Foundation whereby they can use the "Let's Roll," as long as they don't put Florida State's marks on the items. Guy Moore, owner of the stores, said he sold about 2,000 "Let's Roll" T-shirts in FSU team colors.
Dye said an online site that was selling more than 20 products with the "Let's Roll" slogan in conjunction with "FSU" and the tomahawk, was notified of their infringement and was shut down immediately.
Anna Kournikova now has an officially licensed song. Two years ago, after coming back from a bad day at work, John Macom was watching SportsCenter highlights of Kournikova and Martina Hingis' doubles match in the Australian Open.
After a couple minutes, Macom, who is the lead singer of the pop-rock band Binge and whose father is a nationally ranked senior by the United States Tennis Association (USTA) in the 70s age bracket, was inspired to write a song.
The band approached Kournikova's representatives at Octagon, who liked the song so much they agreed to split the profits from the song.
Binge is still looking for distribution partners for their new album appropriately entitled, "Anna Kournikova." Four of the 13 songs are versions of the Kournikova song, including the "Kournikoustic version."
Macom said the band is thinking about touring in every town that Anna plays on the WTA Tour next year.
The CD, which costs $11.98, is available on www.kournikova.com and the band's video of the song, which features previously unreleased clips from her new calendar shoot, is the most viewed video on Lycos.com.
Weird Al Davis
"In L.A., (Raiders owner) Al Davis is like Jason (Voorhees from 'Friday the 13th')," said David Carter, principal of The Sports Business Group. "He keeps coming back to wreak havoc, and every time he does it, he causes further uncertainty to this market."
In the past 22 years, Davis has been involved with eight separate lawsuits and getting the L.A. Coliseum or the Rose Bowl -- both of which are actively seeking to woo an NFL team -- to support Davis will be a tough task. But it's not only about Davis, it's about the fans as well.
"There has been discussion among some city council members here that the Raiders will not be welcome in Pasadena," said Darryl Dunn, the general manager of the Rose Bowl. "It's not like there's a deal that says they definitely can't come here, but in this neighborhood it would be tough to get by the unruly perception of Raiders fans. We want to solidify the stadium's future, but it's not at any cost."
If the Raiders win the rights to Los Angeles, they could return after the 2010 season when their current stadium lease in Oakland expires. Davis is seeking $700 million for the L.A. rights alone.
Commanding the spotlight
While his new-found popularity has not brought him the national limelight and endorsement riches afforded Michael Jordan, Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant and Vince Carter, another All-Star season could put Pierce solidly among the second tier of NBA standouts with Allen Iverson, Tracy McGrady and Kevin Garnett, who each have their own shoe models through Reebok, Adidas and And1, respectively.
"It's no secret that any great player, in order to get into the upper level in the endorsement world, has to be consistent and has to have a team that can go far into the playoffs," said Pierce's agent Jeff Schwartz, who also represents New Jersey Nets point guard Jason Kidd and Washington Wizards swingman Jerry Stackhouse. "In order to get the big national endorsement deals, people have to be able to see you on national television and that only happens when you win."
Pierce will be the cover athlete featured on Microsoft Xbox's 2003 NBA Inside Drive, which debuts in October, and he recently signed a multiyear deal with Spalding, to promote the company's Infusion basketball. Pierce, who finished 11th in the league MVP voting last season, also has local deals with Citizen's Bank and McDonald's.
"People like getting the up-and-comers as they are on their way up," said John Rodman, lead product manager for Xbox sports games. "With Paul doing what he did last year and the Celtics doing well in the playoffs, we don't think we could have gotten a better value than what we got in Paul."
Last year, Pierce's No. 34 Celtics jersey finished in the top 20 best-selling jerseys in the NBA. Sales of Pierce's jersey went up 110 percent from the previous season, according to NBA spokesman Matt Bourne. Highly graded Pierce rookie cards sell for $100 to $200.
Since 1998, when Pierce was drafted 10th by the Boston Celtics, the power forward has been a Nike endorser and recently has been featured in the apparel company's "Freestyle," "Roswell Rayguns" and "Funkship" television spots.
"He comes from an urban background (Los Angeles) and has a national following," said Eric Oberman, spokesman for Nike basketball, which extended Pierce's contract this year. "He plays in an NBA basketball city steeped in tradition and is the latest in a long list of great Celtic players and leaders."
Meanwhile, Pierce was recently named the beneficiary of a $50,000 grant -- which he will give to the charity of his choice -- for winning the NBA's "Home Team Community Service Award."
On Sunday, Pierce hosts his AT&T Broadband Celebrity Softball Challenge, which benefits his newly created charity, "The Truth Fund." The charity supports disadvantaged kids in Boston and in his hometown of Inglewood, Calif. Among the game's sponsors is Tufts New England Medical Center, where Pierce was treated for his stab wounds.
Darren Rovell, who covers sports business for ESPN.com, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org