Sports Biz with Darren Rovell

Making the Cutt?


Making the Cutt?:

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Terrell Owens had to worry about what he was wearing on his hands this past weekend in his team’s game against the New York Giants. That’s because uniform inspectors received a memo earlier in the week from league officials that said Owens and two Arizona Cardinals players --Larry Fitzgerald and Leonard Davis --were subject to game removal because of repeatedly using gloves that did not pass the NFL standards.

The gloves in question were made by Cutters, one of four brands that players are allowed to wear. As part of Reebok’s apparel deal with the league, players can wear any gloves they want -- Under Armour, Nike, Reebok or Cutters - but only Reebok has its vector on the gloves and UA, Nike and Cutters gloves must have the NFL shield on them with no corporate logos.

“There has been an alarming increase in unauthorized Cutter (sic) gloves on the field,” the memo, as obtained by, read.

The two styles in question were an all black glove that had the NFL Equipment logo in black and white instead of the supposedly required red, white and blue and the other style was cutter gloves that had white piping on it, something the league did away with before this season.

“Substantial fines will be issued to players wearing this unauthorized products,” the memo said. “Repeat offenders will be removed from the game by game officials until the infraction is corrected.”

I called Jeff Beraznik, president of Cutters Gloves, to find out his take. He told me that it was possible that some of the players were wearing last year’s model gloves with the piping, but he insisted that the NFL approved the glove with the black and white NFL Equipment logo.

Cutters doesn’t pay the NFL to be allowed to supply players with its gloves and while Beraznik says the league is “trying to stonewall his company’s progress, it isn’t working.”

Beraznik said the Giants ordered Cutters gloves for Jeremy Shockey this week, as did the Eagles for quarterback Jeff Garcia.

“The NFL’s agenda is to get us off the field,” Beraznik said. “Our goal is to get the support of the players, engage equipment managers and influencers around the league to try to reverse this.”

Where do I stand? Brands like Cutters can’t even put their logos on the gloves so I think the NFL might be micro-managing this area, something they’ve clearly been accused of doing in the past.

Did Bush Dump Ornstein?:

Much was made of New Orleans Saints running back Reggie Bush -- the most marketable rookie in the NFL -- supposedly canning his marketing agent Mike Ornstein last month. I’m not saying it didn’t happen, I’m just wondering why one of my trustworthy scouts called me to tell me that Ornstein was at one of Bush’s promotional appearances recently. Ornstein wouldn’t comment on his relationship with Bush.

Schilling Sock Stays Off The Market:

In Feb. 2005, Curt Schilling’s bloodied sock that he wore during Game 2 of the 2004 World Series was taken to the Hall of Fame. Schilling of course toughed out two ruptured tendon surgeries to get a win in the ALCS and the World Series and the sock became the symbol to some of the determination of the Red Sox players to win their first title in 86 years.

For the past couple years, I’ve personally known some well-heeled Boston Red Sox fans who were willing to pony up six figures to get their hands on that sock. At one point, there was word that Schilling would perhaps take it back from the Hall of Fame and auction it off for his charity of choice, ALS. But we’re coming to you with the official word. Schilling’s publicist Katie Leighton telling us that the sock will be on display indefinitely in Cooperstown.

“The sock represents the power of faith and teamwork to me,” Schilling said, in a statement. “Taking the mound during this difficult time was about being part of something that was far bigger than any one person, or one goal, or one vision. It was about being part of something no one would ever forget. I am happy to share it with the fans at the Hall of Fame.”

And this from Ted Spencer, the Hall’s vice president and chief curator: “Curt Schilling’s bloody sock is one of the most iconic moments in World Series history. Because of our close proximity to New England, there is a great deal of ongoing interest from fans to see it in person. We are thrilled Curt Schilling is allowing us to continue to display the treasure.”

Tiger Woods Signs With Nike:

OK, I know that was probably the most obviously headline you’ve seen, but it’s actually not that ridiculous. Let me tell you why. In 1996, Woods signed a five-year deal with Nike worth a reported $40 million. In 2000, Woods signed another five-year deal with the company worth a reported $100 million. So, at the beginning of this year, I called my people at Nike and asked what Tiger’s status was. If we were to believe everything we heard, that would mean that he wasn’t under contract. It wasn’t as if I ever thought that they’d let him go. He’s their most important athletic icon besides Jordan. But I wanted to know if they had reached a new deal. I didn’t hear anything for a while and I saw him pitching that Sasquatch on nearly every network -- including two interviews he did with CNBC. It was only this week that Nike officials confirmed that they signed Tiger to a new deal. No details other than the signature, but suffice it to say he’s very likely making more than $20 million a year. And to think that in 1996 many said $8 million a year was too much.

Nike Owns The Bowls:

We don’t know if Ohio State or Florida will win the BCS National Championship yet, but we do know that -- for the eighth consecutive year -- the national champion of college football will be wearing Nike. The shoe and apparel giant has made it their business to “swooshify” the NCAA.

Big Money At Stake:

It’s not Rutgers, which started the season at 400-1, but Florida was still a bit of a longshot to win the BCS National Championship when the season kicked off. Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, for example, opened up the Gators as the 10th most probable winner at 18-to-1 odds. Ohio State was the favorite at 6-to-1.

Retail Update:

Over the past four weeks, sales of college merchandise is selling ahead of last year by close to 45 percent as compared to the same time period last year, according to Neil Schwartz of marketing tracking firm SportsOneSource.

Schwartz says that’s the single largest increase in sales for any of the major sports licensing organization. Here are the top selling college teams over the past weeks: Ohio State, Michigan, Texas, Georgia, Notre Dame, North Carolina, Michigan State, Oklahoma, Kentucky and Alabama.

Delta Knows How To Make Money:

Delta might be in bankruptcy, but they certainly aren't too bad at trying to make money off the BCS championship game. The geniuses at Delta are offering two non-stop flights from Gainesville and Columbus (the home cities of Florida and Ohio State) to Phoenix on Jan. 6 and two non-stop flights each from Phoenix to Gainesville and Columbus on Jan. 9, the day after the game is played. We're told that the flights will be operated using a combination of Boeing 757 and Boeing 737-800 aircraft, seating 183 and 150 passengers, respectively. As a service to Ohio State and Florida fans, I'm posting the flights here. I guarantee you, they will not last the weekend. By the way, the flights will cost anywhere from $1,100 to $1,400 per roundtrip.

Gainesville to Phoenix Flights:

Jan. 6, 2007

Flight #9691 Leaves Gainesville at 5 p.m. Arrives in Phoenix at 7:30 p.m.
Flight #9693 Leaves Gainesville at 7:45 p.m. Phoenix at 10:15 p.m.

Jan. 9, 2007

Flight #9690 Leaves Phoenix at 10:30 a.m. Arrives in Gainesville at 4:20 p.m.
Flight #9692 Leaves Phoenix at 1:45 p.m. Arrives in Gainesville at 7:35 p.m.

Columbus to Phoenix Flights:

Jan. 6, 2007

Flight #9695 Leaves Columbus at 8:15 p.m. Arrives in Phoenix at 10:30 p.m.
Flight #9697 Leaves Columbus at 8:45 p.m. Arrives in Phoenix at 11 p.m.

Jan. 9, 2007

Flight #9694 Leaves Phoenix at 9:30 a.m. Arrives in Columbus at 3:10 p.m.
Flight #9696 Leaves Phoenix at 3 p.m. Arrives Columbus at 8:40 p.m.

Bringing Tony Romo Home:

If you want to meet Tony Romo and then take home his autograph, you’ll have to pony up. Romo had a private signing on Tuesday with GT Sports Marketing, which inked him to a memorabilia deal, that will be the Dallas Cowboys quarterback’s only signing for 2006. Romo’s first public autograph session will be on March 18th in San Jose, Calif., where he’ll join Reggie Bush, Matt Leinart, Marcus Allen, Joe Montana, Steve Young and more than 30 other San Francisco 49ers. Here are the prices, but GTSM warns us that (probably if Romo blows up even more) that “prices are subject to change.”

Autograph on flat item: $99
Autograph on mini helmet: $119
Autograph on football: $129
Autograph on helmet/jersey: $149
Inscription: $39

Questions?  Comments?