A spicy NFL owners October surprise while leagues eyes a bigger stake in Thanksgiving weekend; changes at the Chicago Fire and Premier League eye U.S. exposure
A big NBA opening night, as you had the Golden State Warriors celebrate their championship before the season opener against the Los Angeles Lakers at Chase Center. The Warriors unveiled their fourth championship banner in the past eight seasons. Incredible. Each player greeted NBA Commissioner Adam Silver before getting their ring from Warriors owners, Joe Lacob and Peter Guber. Meanwhile, in Boston, you had the Celtics present a touching and powerful tribute to the late Bill Russell during their opening seasoning win against the Philadelphia 76ers. So, the NBA season now in full swing. And this is your Morning Buzzcast for Wednesday, October 19th. Good morning. I'm Abe Madkour. Thanks for listening to the Buzzcast. While we started with the NBA, the Buzzcast will be dominated by, yes, the NFL. We know NFL owners don't love to make controversial news at their owners' meetings, but Tuesday's meeting in New York had some spice to them.
First, Colts owner, Jim Irsay, became the first owner to publicly suggest he'd support the removal of Commanders owner, Dan Snyder, from the league. He told reporters he believed there was "merit to removing him as owner." He said, "Fellow owners have to review the evidence and the situation, and Snyder's removal has to be given 'serious consideration.'" He said he believes there potentially could be the 24 votes needed to remove the Commanders owner.
Now, Dan Snyder was not present at the meetings. His wife and co-owner, Tanya, was inside during the time when Irsay spoke, but bottom line, it's very, very rare for one owner to speak out against another so publicly in front of so many reports, and while Jim Irsay beats to his own drum, he does have some standing. Do recall he was suspended and fined in 2014 for driving under the influence of pain killers, but these statements by Jim Irsay will continue to raise the specter that owners are tiring of Dan Snyder and may just try to take matters into their own hands in terms of his future, but, remember, we are still awaiting the outcome of two active investigations into Snyder's personal behavior and workplace culture, and those investigations and the outcome of those investigations could determine how owners act next, but big news from Jim Irsay.
Staying with the NFL, get ready for the NFL on Black Friday. We know that more and more sports properties are making that Thanksgiving weekend a priority, and now the NFL and Prime Video will feature a Black Friday game streaming on Amazon Prime starting next year, 2023. Now, Amazon sees this day as a perfect match between sports viewing and eCommerce shopping. Now, terms were not disclosed, but in April, NBC Sports' Peter King said, "The price Amazon would pay for the Friday game was anywhere between 70 to 100 million dollars for that one game on top of its existing one billion dollar deal per year for Thursday night football." Now, the game on Black Friday should draw very strong viewership, and it gives the NFL another flag in the ground that weekend. Remember, there are already three NFL games on Thanksgiving day. Those traditionally rank among the most viewed games of the regular season. Now, historically, Thanksgiving Friday has featured some college football games, but NFL season opening, and when they see an opening, they will take it, and they took it with a primetime Black Friday matchup.
Staying with the NFL, we talked yesterday on the Buzzcast about this issue, but at the end of the day, it came down to NFL team owners approving a measure that will see Rams owner, Stan Kroenke, pay the remaining 571 million dollars that is owed to the city of St. Louis over the Rams relocation to Los Angeles. Now, NFL teams have already contributed 219 million dollars of that settlement that was reached with St. Louis last year. Under yesterday's resolution, Stan Kroenke is responsible for paying the remainder of that fee. Now, NFL teams didn't think they would pay any money towards this, but in May, the NFL deducted 7.5 million from each team's revenue sharing payment to help, uh, pay for or contribute to the settlement. Teams expected Stan Kroenke to pay the entire fee, but he said he wouldn't do that earlier this year, and it became a very controversial and divisive issue among owners, but, now, Stan Kroenke will be forced to pay the rest of the settlement to the tune of 571 million dollars.
And, finally, more spice from the meetings. While the NFL owners voted 31 to one to authorize the NFL's compensation committee to begin negotiating a new deal with Commission Roger Goodell, there was one familiar opponent to the move. That is Jerry Jones, who was the lone dissenter, and Jerry Jones' frustration apparently boiled over and caused him to spew a profanity in the vein of, "Don't mess with me," directed at Patriots owner, Robert Kraft, who is chair of the compensation committee. So, this story will get legs because, remember, in 2017, Jerry Jones tried to block Roger Goodell from getting a new deal. At that time, it turned into a very public spat. It's not that Jerry Jones is against Roger Goodell as a leader. I don't think that's the case, but he does have issues with the process, the compensation, the key performance metrics that assess Goodell's performance, and some other areas of the review of Goodell's performance, but this story will clearly be one to watch going forward.
Let's move on to some other sports. If you watched the great Alabama/Tennessee game on Saturday, well, let's just say you were not alone, as that game drew the biggest, largest college football audience of the season with CBS drawing more than 11.5 million viewers during that 3:30 window. That figure is just over a million more viewers than the Alabama/Texas game, which was in week two, and that was the previous season high. The game peaked at nearly 17 million viewers, very strong numbers. Meanwhile, Tennessee's win led the Vols to be the top selling college football team for Fanatics over the weekend. So, yes, the top selling item was a game-themed, orange T-shirt with the final 52 to 49 score. That was the top selling item on Fanatics over the weekend. So, some big, exhilarating days in Knoxville.
And let's end the Buzzcast around soccer. First, the Chicago Fire are embarking on a front office re-org, as Ishwara Glassman Chrein is leaving her position as president of business operations. Now, Glassman Chrein, well known to the sports business, is a SBJ Forty under 40 honoree in 2020. She joined the Chicago Fire in 2021. So, she departs. Uh, she definitely expanded the club's front office relationships with Chicago's corporate and, and business communities during her time, but the team still has an issue of where to play its home games for the long term, as most do not feel that Soldier Field is that longterm solution.
It also seems clear that Fire owner, Joe Mansueto, is comfortable with the influence and leadership of sporting director, Georg Heitz, the Swiss hockey leader, who clearly has garnered more power and authority within the organization, which could be seen as a surprise because of the team's poor performance on the pitch, but to that point, the team yesterday exercised its option for Heitz and technical director, Sebastian Peltzer. Meanwhile, they brought in FC Lugano CEO, Martin Blaser as interim president of business operations. So, again, Ishwara Glassman Chrein leaving the Chicago Fire after nearly two years.
And look for more Premier League coming to the United States as the league is looking at staging a new preseason tournament in the US. It would be over the summer. It would feature six Premier League clubs, playing in several US cities, similar to what the EPL does in Asia with an Asian tour. Now, if they move forward with this, this could create a very valuable and lucrative new television and ticketing package of inventory, but they would have to balance this new effort with some clubs' current efforts to play preseason friendly matches in the US. Many of them already do so during the summer. So, they would have to somehow reconcile individual club efforts with a more concerted effort by the Premier League to bring six clubs over in a more organized preseason tournament, but that could be a very valuable new piece of inventory in the United States.
So, that is your morning Buzzcast for Wednesday, October 19th. I'm Abe Madkour. Thank you for listening to the Buzzcast. Stay healthy. Be good to each other. I'll speak to you on Thursday.