NFL Women’s Summit: Condoleezza Rice Talks Diversity And Inclusion In Sports

Dr. Condoleezza Rice did not set out be the first and only female member of the CollegeFootball Playoff Selection Committee. And she did not set out to break the long-standing male-only membership tradition at Augusta National Golf Club.

Her goal has always been to follow what she loves.

NFLWMA-P20107_IN_v3.indd“I think the truth of the matter is, people who end up as ‘first’ don’t actually set out to be first. They set out to do something they love and it just so happens that they are the first to do it,” said Rice, who discussed her historic achievements in sports during her remarks at the NFL’s Women’s Summit.

“I don’t tend to think about I am the first this, or I am breaking that ceiling. What you want to do, you want simply to seek to do things you enjoy – that you think you might be good at. Then once you are there, make sure you are not the last.”

While addressing an audience of 250 influencers in sports including NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and tennis legend Billie Jean King, Rice noted that once someone has been the first, they have an obligation to make it possible for others to do what they have done.

When asked to speak about hurdles that still exist today for minorities and women in the sports industry, Rice used the example of faculty hiring at universities and filling corporate board vacancies.

She explained that there is a tendency in these sectors to look in the same places year after year for experienced candidates. Thus, employers repeatedly hire identical applicants.

“Part of the challenge of breaking through is to change traditional patterns of hiring and advancement. It is not a question of people don’t have merit or they aren’t as good, or they have to make a compromise,” said Rice.

Therefore, Rice recommends looking outside of normal channels for qualified women and minority candidates. This is why she believes the Rooney Rule, which requires teams to interview minority candidates for head coaching and senior football operations vacancies and now mandates that league-wide women must be interviewed for executive openings, is so important.

“When you are told that you have to diversify your pool, you will get remarkable candidates within that pool. Sometimes hurdles are not conscious hurdles, ” Rice said.

“People are not trying to discount or keep women or minorities out. But they keep looking in the same channels; they keep finding the same people who are overwhelmingly white and male. So, it is a reason to be creative in your hiring.”

On the other side, Rice thinks that women and minorities also need to say, “I don’t see barriers.”

She said: “There is a kind of toughness that has to come with being different and that is not going to change. It goes both ways; the opportunities have to be opened up because people have to be looking. And those of us who are minority and female have to say, ‘I am going to breakthrough. I don’t care what the numbers look like .’”

For more about the NFL Women’s Summit click here #InTheHuddle. Have something to say about this story? Comment below or share it here.

Growing Up Manning: A Look Inside Football’s First Family

eli_peyton1What are the odds of raising two children who grow up to become number one NFL draft picks, as well as Super Bowl Champions and MVPs in back-to-back seasons?

Well, my research did not uncover this statistic, but according to the NFL Players Association, “of the 100,000 high school seniors who play football every year, only 215 will make an NFL roster. That is 0.2%!” And of the 9,000 players who compete on the collegiate level each year, only 3.5% of those players receive an invitation to the NFL scouting combine.

Indeed, the odds of playing professional football on Sunday are tough, and competing against your sibling at the same time – that is even tougher.

You would think that there’s a secret to raising professional athletes. But if you ask Archie Manning, also known as the father of Peyton and Eli Manning, two of the most recognizable faces in the NFL, he will tell you that a how to guide does not exist. In fact, he shrugs off talk that suggests he planned, from day one, to raise NFL athletes.

Peyton and Eli both play the quarterback position, and have led their respective teams to the Super Bowl. In 11 playoff appearances with his former team, Indianapolis Colts, Peyton made it to the Super Bowl twice (a Super Bowl XLI win over Chicago and a Super Bowl XLIV loss to New Orleans). While younger brother, Eli, on the other hand, is hungry for a third Super Bowl ring (he has two wins over New England – Super Bowl XLII and Super Bowl XLVI). However, when it comes to sibling rivalry, Peyton leads the “Manning Bowl” series, going a perfect 3-0.

So, what was it like growing up Manning?

In the third season of ESPN Films’ SEC Storied documentary series, which kicks off tonight with The Book of Manning (Tuesday, September 24, at 8:00 p.m. ET on ESPN), that question is explored and answered.

In anticipation of the premiere, Archie spoke with members of the media about being the Manning patriarch, his days as a star quarterback at Ole Miss and former NFL quarterback with the New Orleans Saints, and raising three sons (Cooper, Peyton, and Eli) each with football dreams in their own right. Here are excerpts of his comments:

On recognizing Peyton and Eli’s athletic potential

Archie: I don’t know if we ever talked about it. It just evolved. People will tell you, I was always very reluctant, very slow to talk about their future.

Maybe the first Manning Bowl in ’06, I remember us sitting down and looking at each other and just saying, “What in the world is going on here?” When Peyton won his Super Bowl MVP and the next year the Giants and Eli won one. That’s when it hit us, this wasn’t a plan.

On advice about playing the quarterback position

Archie: I think the first thing that my sons will tell you, that I never tried to be their coach.  I didn’t give them as much advice as some people might think, being a former player myself and a former quarterback. If they asked, I gave them my opinion.

But I think that they would tell you this, too.  I tell the same thing to young quarterbacks. The best advice I try to give a young quarterback is, you need to know what you’re doing.  You need to know what you’re doing, because if you know where to go with the football, you can get rid of it and throw it and you won’t get hit. And that’s  advice a quarterback needs to have, especially a passing quarterback or somebody that’s going to be in the pocket.

On raising professional athletes and advice for parents

Archie: I don’t think that’s a goal that parents should have for their children, whatever sport it is, to be a professional [athlete]. As parents, we don’t need to be the ones that push that.  They have to like it and enjoy it and want to do it. And parents, we are just there to support [them]. It never was a goal to get Peyton to the NFL, and so even though he got there, it wasn’t our goal to push Eli along to get to the NFL. They were motivated to play and get better, and they had a great work ethic.  That’s why they got there.

My advice for parents is to support your children, make sure they are having fun. Support them and be there for them. Give them encouragement and make it a life lesson that along the way they are learning to make good decisions and do the right thing.

On Cooper and Peyton’s health concerns

Archie: It’s been a real blessing and maybe somewhat of a miracle what Cooper went through.  Immediately, of course, we wanted to check on Peyton and Eli and have them checked to make sure they didn’t have that same stenosis, which they didn’t.

And then, knock‑on‑wood here, they both have been so fortunate in regard to injuries in their career. So when Peyton had his first neck surgery and the second and the third and the fourth, obviously we were concerned. Football wasn’t primary on our mind, it was ‑‑ let’s try to get Peyton healthy.

The fact that all the doctors cleared him to play again, there’s no guarantee you’ll get to come back and play.  A lot of people didn’t think he would. We just didn’t know. He never took football for granted because of what happened to Cooper. But I think he always knew he was fortunate in regard to health. But he wasn’t ready for his career to be over, not like that. Not [after] four surgeries and having to leave the place where he had been so long. He just didn’t want it to end right there.

On Peyton and Eli’s NFL endorsements.

Archie: If you look at their history, the associations they have and the corporate partners they have, it’s quality. I’ve always thought if you’re going to have a relationship like that, you hope it’s not just a quick one; that it’s something meaningful, and you’re part of something within the company. The DIRECTV [Football on Your Phone] the rap video was certainly odd to me, I had a very small part. This is a 15‑year relationship our family has had with DIRECTTV. They are a wonderful company and they have great people. They are a big part of the NFL, so it’s a good tie‑in.

Last Minute Guide To Super Bowl XLVII

Super_Bowl_XLVII_logoSuper Bowl XLVII is hours away. Are you a die-hard NFL fan who has been waiting all week for the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens match-up, or maybe you just learned that both franchises are undefeated in their Super Bowl appearances (49ers 5-0, Ravens 1-0)?

Whether you are a gridiron guru or Pop Warner pupil, here are a few tips to prepare you for Super Bowl Sunday…

Tickets. If you are lucky enough to be in New Orleans and you are trying to find last minute tickets, please use common sense before handing over your 401k. Generally, the face value of Super Bowl tickets ranges from $850 to $1,250. On the secondary market, fans can expect at least a 50% markup.

Kase Chong, the Director of Marketing at suggests, “fans [should] stick to authorized resellers like StubHub and eBay, which have safeguards to protect consumers against fraud. StubHub guarantees orders by replacing any tickets that turn out to be counterfeit or refunding the buyer’s money.”

Chong and Scambook urge fans to take the following precautions:

1. Ask yourself if it is too good to be true. Look out for red flags such as the ticket price being extremely low compared to the average price on other listings. Any elaborate, emotional story explaining why the seller cannot attend the game is another common sign.

2. Do not pay via Western Union or money order. There are no buyer protections using wire transfers or payment methods like money orders and cashier’s checks. If you send your money via Western Union, you won’t be able to get it back if the seller turns out to be a scammer.

3. Examine the tickets carefully before money changes hands. Legitimate event tickets are printed on stiff, glossy paper. Examine the barcode to see if it has been tampered with and look for other suspicious signs like ragged edges, smudged printing, official logos that do not look right, misspelled words or wrong event details.

4. Never buy e-Tickets. Similarly, never buy electronic tickets that are emailed to you or printed out. E-Tickets are easy to counterfeit, or scammers can print and sell multiple copies.

5. Do not give the seller more personal information than necessary. Someone selling tickets on Craigslist has no need to know any of your sensitive personal information.

In the end, if you cannot score tickets to the big game, stay home and watch it with 111.3 million of your closest friends.

The Owner’s Box.  At some point during Super Bowl XLVII, the cameras will pan to the owner’s box where you will find Steve Bisciotti and the DeBartolo York  family.

Bisciotti was a minority owner when the Ravens won its first Super Bowl in 2001. He bought controlling interest of the team in 2004 from the late Art Modell, and since then he has gone through the progression of rebuilding the franchise. Bisciotti is often asked whether he is a hands-on or hands-off owner. He does not view his role as an either or, but  instead a lot of both. “I’m not in the position to overrule my guys, but I am certainly in a position to question them until I am comfortable with their answers and decisions,” said Bisciotti.

The DeBartolo York family is going for their sixth Super Bowl victory. Eddie DeBartolo Jr. co-owned the 49ers from 1977-2000. In 1999, he was suspended by the NFL for one year after being found guilty of failing to report a felony arising from a gambling fraud and extrusion case. During that time, lawsuits ensued, and he ultimately traded his interest in 49ers for his sister’s, Denise DeBartolo York, real estate holdings in the DeBartolo Corporation. Today, DeBartolo York’s son, Jed York, is in his fourth season as the CEO of the 49ers. He is credited for reviving the franchise the same way his uncle built it.

The Coaches: Harbaugh vs. Harbaugh. Last season we watched the Harbaugh brothers, Ravens head coach, John Harbaugh, and 49ers head coach, Jim Harbaugh, lose the AFC and NFC Championships respectively. I can only imagine the first conversation between the brothers after the heartbreaking losses.

John: Hey Jim, it’s me John. We lost. I can’t believe I’m not going to the Super Bowl.

Jim: I hear you big bro, we lost too. I’m not going to the Super Bowl either.

John: Let’s make a pact, next season we are both coaching in Super Bowl XLVII.

Jim: I concur. By the way, I’ll be hoisting the Lombardi trophy.

John: Tell that to Ray Lewis. See ya in NOLA.

Ok, so no one knows what the Harbaugh brothers said to each other behind closed doors, but don’t we love a good old fashioned family rivalry?

Players to Watch. 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, and Ravens linebacker, Ray Lewis, are among the athletes receiving the most attention going into the Super Bowl.

Kaepernick, in his second NFL season, will be making his tenth career start. A win today means he will go down in 49ers lore with the likes of Joe Montana and Steve Young. However, keep an eye on the sidelines. If anything happens to Kaepernick, back-up quarterback, Alex Smith, will be ready to regain the starting position.

Lewis is undoubtedly the face of the Ravens. Whether it is his “I’ll fire you up” pre-game dance or “Hannibal Lecter like” facemask, believe me, you will surely know him when you see him. Off-the-field, Lewis’ past is shrouded in controversy, which means he has just as many critics as he does supporters. This week was not any easier as he was accused of using a “deer antler” performance enhancing drug. Keep your eye #52. He is headed for retirement and there’s no doubt that he will leave everything on the field.

The Commercials. Super Bowl Sunday is the ONLY time of the year that television viewers look forward to watching commercials. This year CBS charged $3.8 million to $4 million for one 30 second commercial, which is up $300,000 from last year.

Here at Forbes, SportsMoney contributor Allen St. John analyzed this year’s crop of Super Bowl spots with the help of legendary advertising executives. You can find their take here.

The Halftime Show. The much anticipated halftime performance can be summed up in one word – Beyonce. It is rumored that she will share the stage with husband Jay-Z and former group Destiny’s Child, but when asked Beyonce said that she cannot reveal any details about her performance.

My Forbes colleague, Zack O’Malley Greenburg, wrote about Beyonce’s much anticipated performance. Here’s what we do know. We know the NFL will not pay Beyonce for her performance. The league does not pay halftime acts, but rather covers all of the expenses related to the show. We know that the exposure of performing for over 100 million viewers will most certainly drive digital downloads, and the show will be a huge win for halftime sponsor, Pepsi.

And we know that she won’t be lip-syncing. Any questions?

Social Media. If you are skilled enough to watch the game and tweet at the same time, follow these twitter accounts and hashtags for up-to-date information.

National Football League (@NFL

  • Hashtags: #XLVII #SuperBowl #SB47 #HarbaughBowl #Harbowl
  • The Commissioner: Roger Goodell (@NFLCommish)

Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens)

  • Hashtags: #Ravens #SBRavens #RavensNation
  • Players: Ray Lewis (@RayLewis), Ray Rice (@RayRice27), Torrey Smith (@TorreySmithWR) Terrell Suggs (@UntouchableJay4), Anquan Boldin (@AnquanBoldin), Joe Flacco (@TeamFlacco), Michael Oher (@MichaelOher)
  • Front Office: Chad Steele, Director of Media Relations (‏@CSteele32)

San Francisco 49ers (@49ers)

  • Hashtags: #49ers #Faithful #QuestForSix
  • Players: Vernon Davis (@VernonDavis85), Colin Kaepernick (@Kaepernick7), Aldon Smith (@AldonSmith), Dashon Goldson (@thehawk38), Chris culliver (@Cullyinthehouse), Michael Crabtree (@KingCrab15)
  • Alumni: Jerry Rice (@JerryRice)
  • Front Office: Jed York (@JedYork)

Sponsors & Advertisers

  • Front Row Analytics (@FRAnalytics, #SuperBowl24Hours). It will evaluate the sponsorships and advertisements of Super Bowl XLVII in real time and deliver results exclusively on its Twitter account.

Forbes SportsMoney Staff and Contributors 

Giving Thanks For The NFL’s Detroit Lions

(This post originally appeared on 11/22/12)

Today all Americans will take a moment to pause, gather together, and collectively give thanks. No matter how rough the road ahead may seem, there is always something to be thankful for.

What are you thankful for?

As a sports fan and Michigander, today I am especially thankful for NFL in Detroit.

The last several years have been rocky in Detroit, but I do not have to tell you that. We are a blue collar town that was almost left for dead, but Detroit did not quit and neither have the Detroit Lions.

From a dreadful 0-16 season in 2008 to a whirlwind playoff appearance in 2011, the Lions remain resilient and the same can be said for Detroit.

Despite the changes and challenges in the Michigan economy Detroit has continued to soldier on – so have the Lions.

73 years of Tradition

This afternoon, the Detroit Lions, will host its 73rd Thanksgiving Day game. The tradition of the Lions playing on Thanksgiving began in 1934when then owner, George Richards, moved the team from Portsmouth, OH to the Motor City.

That same year the Lions current majority owner, William Clay Ford Sr., went to his very first Lions football game. Decades later, Ford Sr. purchased the team for $4 million. Today Forbes estimates its value at $855 million.

Over the last 49 years, Ford Sr. has been at the helm of the Lions and the Thanksgiving Day tradition has remained safely intact. However, there was a period when the beloved game was in jeopardy.

“Years ago there was an effort by some of the NFL owners to look at rotating the Thanksgiving game,” said Lions President Tom Lewand to

William Clay Ford Jr. stood up in an owners meeting and made a passionate plea to keep it in Detroit. It was soundly defeated, and it never came up for a vote. Since that day, there has been very little doubt that the tradition would continue here in Detroit.”

Lewand further explained that adding a third game in primetime has allowed the league to preserve the traditions established by Detroit and Dallas, as well as give other NFL cities a chance to host a game on Thanksgiving.

Significance of the Thanksgiving Day Game

“I think there is significance on a few different levels. First, for the historical tradition, and the fact that it was the first national game on Thanksgiving that was broadcast on radio,” said Lewand. “The second is that it has created a celebration of American football. It has made a national holiday into one that combines an opportunity to give thanks with an opportunity to gather with family and watch football.”

Yes, millions of Americans will be at home watching the Lions go forward down the field.

Over the last several years, the television viewing audience of the first game has steadily increased (2009: 21.9 million; 2010: 27.75 million; 2011: 30.17 million). In light of this national attention, the Lions know that they must perform at a very high level to uphold the tradition on the field as strongly as it is off the field.

“The first thing that we want people to see is good football from us and a winning performance,” said Lewand. “As great as the tradition is, and as great as the energy is in the building, that is quickly replaced and quickly forgotten if we are not playing good football. Putting a great product on the field is the foremost consideration.”

Ford Field on Thanksgiving

On Thanksgiving Day Ford Field will host roughly 65,000 fans. Many of whom will either watch the annual parade that travels down Woodward Avenue just blocks from the stadium, or beat the rush and bring their tailgate inside.

The organization does not disclose its financial information, but Lewand shared that historically the Thanksgiving games are one of the most well attended match-ups of the season.

“Not just from a sellout perspective, but from a ticket utilization and lack of no shows,” said Lewand. “People tend to come in the building earlier and stay a little bit later, especially if it is a competitive game and usually it is on Thanksgiving. That ends up meaning more activity at the concession stands and more activity in our merchandise areas.”

Once inside the stadium, fans will receive Movember (men’s health awareness) inspired rally towels from the presenting sponsor, Blue Cross Blue Shield. And this year’s United Way Halftime Show features Michigan’s own Kid Rock who will perform Detroit, Michigan off of his new album Rebel Soul.

“Our hope is that it will be extra special in terms of celebrating Detroit and celebrating the resurgence and the rebirth and what is special about Detroit,” said Elizabeth Parkinson, Senior Vice of Marketing and Partnerships to  “Kid Rock has committed to the city. For us, he epitomizes the grit, heritage, and the commitment that people have made to the city.”

Thanksgiving is a day for honoring and celebrating our family, friends, and community. These connections keep us grounded and remind us who we truly are.

So today when you are rooting for the Lions, you are cheering for the pride that is inside of State of Michigan and Detroit.

For that I am truly grateful.

Maintaining Home-Field Advantage In A Digital Age


(This post originally appeared on 11/21/12)

By a show of hands, how many of you use a smartphone or tablet to follow professional sports?

If you raised your hand, you are not alone.

According to Strategy Analytics, between 2008 and 2017 there will be more than 350 billion smartphone and tablet apps downloaded. This translates into an estimated $57 billion globally in paid downloads by 2017.

With over one billion active smartphone users worldwide and another billion forecasted by 2015, this growth in digital technology has exploded onto the professional sports landscape. More and more fans are seeking instant access to scores, highlights, and live action on their handheld devices, which has increased the blending of digital technology with live sporting events.

Earlier this month, Miami Dolphins Owner, Stephen M. Ross, andMLB Advanced Media CEO, Bob Bowman, spoke about this growing trend at the Michigan Sport Business Conference. In the conversation moderated by ESPN’s Monday Night Football announcer, Mike Tirico, Ross and Bowman discussed how professional sports teams can maintain their home-field advantage in a digital age.

Here are highlights from their conversation…

On the growth of Major League Baseball’s At Bat app:

Bowman: We started with a wireless group, and we hired five developers six years ago when we thought the world was going mobile. This year we are the number one grossing app of all time at Apple. The At Bat app was downloaded 6.5 million times by fans principally here in the US, but some oversees as well. Even more importantly, it was opened by half of the people every day. At baseball, we play every day, so we have to build our apps and our digital strategy very differently than other leagues. It has to be reliable and ready twelve hours a day, seven days a week for the entire summer.

On the challenge of maintaining home-field advantage in a digital world:

Ross: The biggest challenge an owner of any sports team in any league is knowing that the fan experience at home, watching it on TV, is probably a better experience today than it is going there live. Being able to have the replays and the production that you have on television is a good reason not to go to a game and it is very expensive.


As an owner, I looked at it as how do I enhance that fan experience to bring them to the stadium? Why would they want to be there? And give them everything they would have at home, and give them a better production by being there live and in-person.


This year at Dolphin Stadium we are looking to be the most technologically advanced stadium in the country. We are being wired right now with over 1500 connections for Wi-Fi. All fans will be able to tune in on their smartphones to see the replays and other games, and we hope to have that operable by the end of the year. There are so many different areas that you have to look at as an owner in enhancing that fan experience to compete with television.

On blending the digital world and the sports world:

Bowman: We live in a two screen world. The second screen is what is in everyone’s hand. They are using it right now, texting and emailing. We need to get the second screen valuable no matter where you are – at home or in the stadium. The first screen is always going to be great. But the second screen, if you have to go somewhere and give up the second screen that is when you are going to run into problems. The second screen has to be just as valuable at a live event as it is at home.

On attracting a younger demographic to in a digital age

Bowman: Twelve years ago Commissioner Selig set this company up. It talks to a younger audience; it is relevant to a younger audience. It is hard to get people to put their device down and go somewhere else. We have to be everywhere because that is where our audience is. Our effort and our assignment is to combine content with commerce. Bud Selig was just so far ahead of everybody. Whether we meant to or not, we are talking to the next generation of fans every day.  We are trying to be relevant on every device people are carrying, and not forcing them to go to any particular device.

On the challenges of maintaining the NFL as the most popular sport in the United States:

Ross: Football has been facing a lot more challenges outside their attendance and outside the games than baseball has. MLB is far advanced than the NFL from a digital media standpoint. The opportunities for football are fantastic. I think other leagues look to see what baseball is doing and react based upon that. In football, we have 16 games, as opposed to 162 games. The challenges are a little different.

They are now studying to see how do you bring technology into the stadiums; they have not really attacked it, and they don’t have the personnel to look at it the way baseball does. We are trying to create and bring connectivity to stadiums, and MLB is ahead of the NFL in regard to that. I think within a year it will be everywhere; the stadiums will be connected, and we can really start this new age of digital technology in the stadiums. Where it goes from there, I think we’ll see who is the most aggressive and creative.


NFL Breeds Second Career Franchisees

(Originally posted on 9/10/12)

Kick-off week of the 2012 NFL season opened to tremendous fan-fare. Yesterday, the priority tasks on every fans’ to-do list was watch football, check scores, and watch more football.

The NFL and its players did not disappoint.

The Robert Griffin III era in Washington started off strong;  Adrian Peterson became the Vikings’ all-time rushing yardage leader after return from a season ending ACL injury; and Petyon Manning shined as the new quarterback for the Denver Broncos.

Not bad for week one.

These moments captured our attention and put us on the edge of our seats. The NFL has mastered the art of “the moment.” Its players are trained to deliver at a moment’s notice. They go to work each Sunday with that one goal in mind – being the best today, not tomorrow.

What happens when the moment is over?

According to NFL communications, the average length of a players’ career is six years. And the while multi-million dollar contracts consistently make the headlines, the average salary is $1.9 million and the median is $770,000.

If NFL players don’t prepare for life after football, a grim future could be ahead. Despite efforts by the NFL and the NFLPA to educate players through transition programs, according to Sports Illustrated, it is estimated that two years after retiring from professional football, 78% of the former players will file for bankruptcy or suffer economic stress.

One of the biggest hurdles is explaining to 21 year olds fresh out of college who just signed multi-million dollar deals that they need to prepare for retirement now and spend only one tenth of their income. That is not an easy task when your audience is living in the moment.

And for the athletes who listen to the advice and try to plan for the future, what is missing for them are specific action steps that the players can successfully implement. That’s where organizations like the Professional Athlete Franchise Initiative (PAFI) come into play.

Founded in 2010 by Michael Stone, a retired NFL player (New England Patriots, Arizona Cardinals, and New York Giants), PAFI connects professional athletes to the franchise industry.

Before retiring from the NFL, Stone saw a trend where a number of players were entering retirement and trying to figure out what was next and how to transition.

It wasn’t until a meeting with former NBA player and franchisee, Junior Bridgeman, when Stone recognized the need for PAFI. Bridgeman owns roughly 200 franchise units and is one of the largest franchisees in America. During their conversation Stone learned the merits of franchising, from an athlete’s perspective.

Franchising has a game plan is already in place, which parallels the execution side in of sports. It allows athletes to fulfill their entrepreneurial spirit without starting a business from scratch, which is the area where Stone sees athletes losing the most money. Moreover, franchising offers statistical information, marketing support and brand recognition.

PAFI’s goal is to educate athletes about opportunities, such as franchising, that are a fit for an athlete when they retire. Stone notes that the franchise industry provides the same kind of support that sport offers an athlete when they’re playing the game.

You would think that PAFI’s goal is to create as many franchise opportunities as possible. In actuality, Stone says they are happy if an athlete goes through their education and decides not to become a franchisee. PAFI strives to manage expectations and protect those athletes who would look at franchising as an easy money making opportunity.

Roughly 150 athletes have completed PAFI’s education. Currently, the initiative is full partners with the National Basketball Retired Players Association, and they are bridging relationships with the NBAPA and NFLPA.

PAFI is supported by franchisors who are their charter members. The brands support the initiative and benefit when the athletes, who they might work with in the future, are educated. Current charter members include: Zip’s Dry Cleaner, Jamba Juice, Carl’s Jr. / Hardees, Happy’s Pizza, Gold’s Gym, and Dunkin’ Donuts (Here’s a complete list).

Over the next several years, PAFI’s goal is to connect every league to their organization and expose all athletes to their education. Stone thinks all athletes are in a similar situation; they make a good amount of money when they’re young and retire young searching for something to leverage in their next career.

Good Night Sports Fans,


For Super Bowl Owners, More Than One Way To Win

Do you remember Super Bowl XLII?

It was the most-watched Super Bowl in NFL history. More than 91 million viewers tuned in to see if Tom Brady and the New England Patriots could complete a perfect season by defeating Eli Manning and the New York Giants. The Giants entered the game as a 12 point underdog and won three road games in order to advance to the Super Bowl.

Ultimately, the Giants won the Super Bowl XLII on a pass from Manning to Plaxico Burress with less than one minute to go. The victory brought joy to Giants fans who last celebrated a championship in 1991 (Super Bowl XXV). As for Patriots fans, there’s no doubt that the loss still stings today.

Fast forward to 2012, the Giants and Patriots survived the NFL lockout and they are back in the Super Bowl to face each other in a much anticipated rematch.

Super Bowl XLVI is the clash of the owner titans. Kraft vs. Mara and Tisch – Winner Takes All.

Here’s the Tale of the Tape…

Mara and Tisch Families

If you had the chance to invest $500 ($6165 inflation adjustment) in a risky business and after 87 years of blood, sweat, and tears it would be worth $1.3 billion, would you do it? Yes, of course. That’s the story of the Tim Mara and the New York Giants.

In 1925, he took a chance and purchased the team when football operated in the shadow of other sports, and the United States was on the verge of its first economic meltdown: The Great Depression.

Mara probably had no idea that his investment would grow exponentially, and today his grandson, John Mara, is fulfilling the family legacy by serving as the President and CEO of the franchise. He’s joined by co-owners, Jonathan Tisch and Steve Tisch, who stepped into the Treasure and Chairman & Executive Vice President roles respectively in 2005 (Their father Preston Robert Tisch purchased 50% of the team in 1991).

The Giants have the second-longest tenured family in the NFL, and they have won one Super Bowl under the current Mara and Tisch ownership team. Together they constructed the $1.4 billion MetLife Stadium and weathered the “seat license” storm; groomed a QB who is no longer known as “Peyton’s little brother”; stood by their head coach countless times when fans wanted him out; and worked long hours to ensure that football would be played this season.

Robert Kraft

How do you become a sports legend without stepping foot on the field? Figure out how to turn a bad team into a good one, and save it from being moved out of town.

When Robert Kraft purchased the Patriots in 1994, he paid a record $172 million. What was once a brave business move, has transformed into a sound business investment as the team is now valued at $1.4 billion.

Since buying the Patriots, Kraft built a 68,756 capacity stadium with a $325 million price tag; hired one of the smartest and toughest coaches in the league; advanced to five Super Bowls and won three (2002, 2004, 2005); signed a 199th draft  QB who turned out to ; and helped end the 4 ½ month lockout with class and integrity.

And The Winner Is…

It’s estimated that the NFL is a $10 billion-a-year business, and 110 million viewers will watch the game on Sunday. Just looking at those numbers alone, it’s clear that both owners will certainly win this weekend. However, we all know that professional sports isn’t just about business, there are glorious wins and defeating losses. The battle will be settled on the field Super Bowl Sunday.

The New England Patriots and SI Jinx?

This week New England Patriots owner, Robert Kraft, is featured as the cover story for sports illustrated. (Last week Tom Brady, Patriots QB, was on the cover with the headline Rematch.)  

Peter King, wrote a great piece about Kraft and his bold leadership, which transformed the Patriots from the laughingstock of the league into a model franchise.

Generally, I’m not superstitious but you can’t deny the fact that after gracing the cover of sports illustrated many athletes and teams have fallen victim to the SI Jinx.

We all know that the Patriots are one of hardest working franchises in the NFL (if not all of professional sports), and they deserve the cover story and all of the accolades that come with it. Here’s hoping that the SI Jinx doesn’t spoil Super Bowl XLVI for the Patriots.

NFL Wildcard Weekend – Seahawks vs. Saints

Game 1 of the Wildcard weekend is officially in the records books. The 7-9 Seahawks not only managed to make it to the playoffs, but they had a home game. Seattle won the NFC West division with a losing record. They took down the defending Super Bowl champs – their defense just looked horrible today especially on the 67 yard touchdown by Marshawn Lynch. Eight different Saints touched him, but they still couldn’t take him down. I’m sure Saints owner, Tom Benson, is going to want some answers about this loss.

Check this video out just in case you missed it.

It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game

 I’m a little very concerned about how sports are being played lately. Recently, accusations of cheating and direct evidence of cheating have hit the NFL. Along with that we’ve seen unsportsmanlike conduct and just horrible unprofessional behavior.

The New York Jets organization has struggled with this lately and it just can’t seem to get out of the spotlight. Over the summer, Jets head coach Rex Ryan was criticized by Tony Dungy, former head coach for the Indianapolis Colts, for his repeated use of profanity. Initially, I shrugged my shoulders to the entire incident. Personally, I don’t use profanity but I know others do. I understand that in a sport like football you have guys that need a little more than just a pat on the back. Plus these are grown men out there, not little boys. Right? Wrong.

Yesterday in the Dolphins-Jets game, Nolan Carroll, Dolphins Rookie CB, was tripped as he was running down the sideline by, Sal Alosi, Jets strength and conditioning coach. I know what you’re thinking. Isn’t that school yard behavior? Yup, it is and certainly should not be happening in “pro” sports. The actions NFL fans witnessed yesterday was one of a string of incidents that have occurred within the Jets organization. During training camp we saw the Ines Sainz cat call controversy. That was followed by the Brett Favre Jenn Sterger alleged cell phone scandal. And tucked into between all of that was Braylon Edwards’ drunk driving arrest.

Where’s the integrity and professionalism? Where are the true sportsmen? And whatever happened to “it’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game?”

Needless to say everyone is responsible for what’s happening in sports — the fans, players, coaches, front office staff, and the owners.

Now I see why Tony Dungy was so critical of Rex Ryan. If you get the little things right, you won’t get the big things wrong.  I hear you coach. It is time to bring civility and honor back into the game.

Good night sports fans,