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Activists call for female CEOs to speak out against NFL

Several female activists, including former CEO of the Women’s Sports Federation Donna Lopiano, are pushing for female chief executive officers of some of the National Football League’s biggest sponsors to speak out against Commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFL over their mishandling of Ray Rice’s domestic abuse case, according to a new report from Bloomberg.

Activists are calling for PepsiCo’s Indra Nooyi, GM’s Mary Barra and Campbell’s Denise Morrison, three big sponsors that pay hundreds of millions annually for the right to attach their brands to the NFL, to speak out, saying that have a special responsibility as women to do so.

“It’s a tremendous opportunity for women’s leadership to demonstrate and differentiate itself in an arena where values have come second to money,” Lopiano said. “You would hope.”

Other sponsors of the NFL, including Anheuser-Busch, McDonalds and Nike, already have reacted to both the Ray Rice case and the Adrian Peterson child abuse case. Nike recently pulled all Peterson gear from its inventory, and Anheuser-Busch said in a statement Tuesday that it is disappointed and “increasingly concerned by the recent incidents that have overshadowed this NFL season.”

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ESPN’s Driessen is Woman of Year

ESPN’s executive vice president and chief financial officer Christine Driessen was honored Monday by the Women in Cable Telecommunications as its Woman of the Year, according to a release from ESPN.

Driessen, who joined the company in 1985, oversees worldwide financial operations at the sports media giant. She played a large role in launching espnW, ESPN’s project towards serving female athletes and fans, and was instrumental in the award-winning Global Sports Mentorship Program. She also founded ESPN’s Executive Women’s Forum, a group dedicated to helping women executives succeed in business.

“Christine stands tall as a forceful champion for women in sports,” said espnW’s Vice President Laura Gentile. “She’s become a mentor to many of us. Somebody we can rely on, somebody we can share our personal and professional challenges and she’ll give us an honest perspective. She’s been there. She’s walked in our shoes and can help us forge our own path.”

Driessen was honored at the 2014 WICT Touchstones luncheon in New York City and was presented the award by president of ESPN Inc. and co-chairman of Disney Media Networks John Skipper.

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Francesca challenges CBS Radio’s take on simulcast problems

Mike Francesa has never been one to hold back his voice, though it seems there is one thing that holds some power over his opining; losing money. Newsday’s Neil Best reports that since Francesa’s return from vacation Sept. 2, the outspoken host has been engaged in a dispute with his employer stemming from the show’s continuing simulcast problems. Fox Sports 1 and 2 have routinely bumped Francesa’s program for international soccer matches.

Francesa has been with CBS-owned New York City radio station WFAN since 1987, but his show has been broadcast nationally only since March 2014 on Fox Sports 1. The opinionated sexagenarian has taken issue with his new foray into the world of national television being continually pre-empted.

“There was a letter handed to me which basically said, cease, otherwise you will be responsible for all the money if the deal blows up and that is what is known in the trade as a way of threatening your talent. If they’re saying I didn’t receive a letter that’s a lie. I did.”

CBS Sports has responded by saying that there has been no talk of a lawsuit.


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Brandon Marshall: ESPN ‘lied’

Chicago Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall lashed out in a series of tweets, suggesting that he was lied to by ESPN and Lisa Salters during the making of a documentary for the network’s “E:60″ program. The Chicago Tribune’s Dan Wiederer ran six of Marshall’s tweets from Sept. 16.

In 2012, ESPN’s documentary program “E:60″ profiled Marshall and his roller coaster history. Then on Monday, the network opted to re-air that profile done by Lisa Salters with just a sprinkling of new content.

That rehashing of old news with barely any present-day context clearly irked Marshall, who laid into the network from his Twitter account.

Marshall clearly took offense to ESPN’s attempt to turn him into a relevant part of the current domestic violence issues plaguing the NFL. The 30-year-old wideout has a checkered past littered with several arrests involving domestic incidents.

Marshall was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder in 2011, though he has had no off-field issues arise since his 2012 arrival in Chicago.

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Nike latest to distance itself from Peterson

In the wake of disturbing allegations of child abuse, Minnesota Vikings All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson has found himself and his previously pristine reputation in a precipitous tailspin. At 1 a.m. Sept. 17, after a day of intense scrutiny and mounting public pressure to make a meaningful move, the Vikings suspended Peterson from all team-related activities until his legal proceedings run their course.

Yahoo Sports’ Eric Edholm reports that Nike followed the Vikings course by pulling all Peterson merchandise from their Twin Cities location just one day after Radisson suspended its sponsorship of the team.

We’ve said all along through the NFL’s darkest week — plus a few days now — that the league will really start to realize there’s a problem when the dollars grow wings. We’re not there yet with all the major sponsors, but when the beer folks start issuing stern statements, such as Budweiser (via CNBC), it’s a shot across the league’s bow.

Shortly after that report, ESPN’s Darren Rovell tweeted that Nike further distanced itself from the situation by suspending its contract with Peterson.


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DirecTV’s takeover of CSN Houston would eliminate 75 jobs

The disheartening trend of layoffs decimating countless sports media organizations around the nation has made its way to Houston. The Houston Chronicle’s David Barron has reported DirecTV and AT&T as beneficiaries of a plan backed by the Houston Astros and Rockets to sell Comcast SportsNet Houston.

Since the network’s ill-fated launch October 2012, CSN Houston has been a financial disaster. Should the bankruptcy judge approve the proposed plan, 75 of the 115 employees will lose their jobs, including 12 on-air personalities.

Isgur is scheduled to decide Oct. 2 whether to approve the plan, which is opposed by Comcast. If the reorganization is not approved, the Astros-Rockets-Comcast partnership will be liquidated and all jobs eliminated.

Should Judge Isgur back the plan, 40 current CSN Houston employees will remain with the network in its new incarnation as Root Sports Houston.




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Agovino: Football’s loss could be soccer’s gain

The National Football League’s multi-billion dollar shadow looms over our nation in a way that no other sports league, past or present, has been able to match. Even baseball, during its heyday as the “national pastime,” never fully capitzlized on the capital-producing capabilities of the sports industry in such a way.

Many argue the NFL is the unsinkable ship, but Huffington Post’s Michael Agovino writes that the water this massive vessel is taking on could provide a boon for soccer.

Football, after all, the American kind, was brutal, violent, and rotten to its core, my friends all agreed, and now, slowly it was being exposed. Our beloved sport, on the other hand, until very recently the butt of jokes and relegated to third-class status in this country, was on the rise.

Despite the prime opportunity for soccer to seize jaded football fans from the sports market, Agovino warns that those expecting an immediate change must temper their expectations.

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The Buzz

Sep 12, 2014Tim Tebow joins ‘Good Morning America’

The SEC Network analyst and former quarterback will now also contribute to ABC’s “Good Morning America.” [For The Win]

Sep 8, 2014Levenson to sell Hawks’ stake over racially charged email

Atlanta Hawks owner Bruce Levenson will sell his stake in the team after an internal investigation uncovered a questionable email. [ESPN]

Sep 8, 2014Ray Rice video emerges

Video of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice striking his then-fiancee surfaces. The NFL suspended him for two games. [The Big Lead]

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