Sports Biz with Darren Rovell

Guess This Autograph, Kickball Lawsuits & More Sports Fun


Guess This Signature

I was opening up my packs of Donruss' Score Select and I pulled this card. I was excited about who the player was, but I was really angry when I looked at this signature.

I guess about 10 years ago, card companies started inserting signature cards in packs, but I have to tell you over the past couple years, the signatures have gotten worse and worse. I don't blame the card companies. They send these athletes a sheet of stickers to sign and in the end, the athletes just get lazy.

If I spent money on this pack and this guy was my favorite player, I would not be happy. Scroll down to the bottom of this post to see whose signature this is.

Kickball Lawsuit Rages On

My second favorite ongoing sports lawsuit apparently still is going on. Basically, the biggest kickball organization -- the World Adult Kickball Association -- sued a founder named Carter Rabasa, who started his own kickball organization, stole their rules and alleged that he defamed them when he told the Washington City Paper that they were "the Microsoft of kickball."

They filed this lawsuit on Valentine's Day of last year and asked for $356,000 in compensatory damages. The DCist reports that Rabasa started a legal defense fund, which is now up to $2,606. Rabasa notes on his Web site that a law firm is working for him pro bono, but a "vigorous defense" could cost more than $50,000.

Meanwhile, Michael McCann of the Sports Law Blog suggests that Rabasa should fight, saying it's hard to legally prove that someone owns the rights to the mechanical rules of a sport.

I know most of you are wondering what my favorite ongoing lawsuit is. Well, it's actually been going on for years now. Turns out the equivalent of Barney in Italy, Gabibbo, might actually be a copy of Big Red, Western Kentucky's mascot, and the school has sued Gabibbo's people.

What's great is, if this happened in the U.S., it would be a slam-dunk case (just look at the eyebrows, people!) and western Kentucky would get hundreds of millions of dollars. Unfortunately, it's in Italy, and there's been no major action in more than four years.

Conley Sr. Signs with BDA Sports

After shopping himself around to sports management agencies, Mike Conley Sr. -- agent of Greg Oden, most likely his son Mike Conley Jr. and another Ohio State player, Daequan Cook -- has landed at BDA Sports. Rookie contracts are slotted and any person can do that.

Marketing deals are a little bit more intricate, and I do believe that if Conley Sr. tried to do Oden's shoe deal by himself, he'd leave at least tens of thousands of dollars on the table. Under the deal, all athletes recruited by Conley will be managed by Conley and will fall under the BDA umbrella.

Sources say Conley shopped himself around on the terms that he would get a yearly guarantee as well as a cut of the action. BDA Sports CEO Bill Duffy would not disclose the nature of the financial relationship. "Players salaries are for public consumption," Duffy said. "What I pay my employees is absolutely private."

It's clear that the money is in the marketing dollars, not in a rookie contract that can't be negotiated. So how marketable is Oden? He'll probably get a $1-million-a-year shoe deal, the standard signature deals and a couple of local deals.

Conley partnering up with Oden is certainly an interesting alliance because it continues the battle between Duffy and his former partner Aaron Goodwin. Goodwin now represents Kevin Durant, who could also go No. 1 this year, and the two have battled over representing the top picks in recent years.

Goodwin represents Dwight Howard (No. 1, 2004) and used to represent LeBron James (No. 1, 2003), while Duffy's BDA Sports represents Yao Ming (No. 1, 2002) and Michael Olowokandi (No. 1, 1998).

On another note, sources are telling me that my initial guess of "no more than $6 million a year" for Durant's shoe contract might be a little bit low. Despite the fact that Reebok is now owned by Adidas (taking out one competitor), Adidas and Nike -- which both gave their presentations to Durant -- believe he's the real deal. While shoe deals are normally done the week of the draft lottery, we're told the pressure is on for Durant to make a decision by next week.

The Derby, a Ratings Winner

While we wait for the Pay-Per-View numbers to be tallied for Saturday night's fight (how long does that take anyway?), the numbers are in from the Kentucky Derby. The NBC (CNBC's sister company under GE) telecast scored an 8.8 rating -- up 7 percent from last year's race.

The race consistently did better than an 8.8 rating from 1973 through 1990 -- the peak coming with an 18.9 rating in 1975, but hasn't earned a rating that high since Lil E. Tee won the race in 1992.

And now here's an excuse for you to watch Secretariat in the 1973 Belmont, which I consider the greatest sporting achievement of all time. The Rudy music really helps to bring out the goose bumps.

The Derby, the Advertisers

Yum Brands -- owners of A&W, KFC, Long John Silver's, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell -- received $4.59 million worth of exposure in Saturday's NBC broadcast, according to Joyce Julius & Associates, a sponsorship evaluation firm.

The Yum logo appeared on the screen for six minutes and 42 seconds, and was mentioned by the network's announcers on 16 occasions, the firm said. At least one of those occasions was when announcer Tom Hammond bashed the company for offering a $1 million bonus to the horse that could beat Barbaro's six-and-half-length victory.

I give a great amount of credit to Hammond, who like many critics said that it wasn't best for the welfare of the horses to aim to beat Barbaro.

Heelys Tanks

Heelys had an excellent quarter that beat the Street and things have been looking up for the rolling shoes, except that yesterday, they announced they were having a second public offering and that their largest shareholder, Southwest Capital Ventures, was selling more than half its shares.

Yikes! This is absolutely the worst thing that could happen with a company like Heelys. They were labeled as a fad stock and the abrupt pullout is in a way what people were waiting for. That's why the stock is tanking today.

Bring Pacman Back
Anyone who wants to buy advertising on has a chance to get a banner for 60 days on eBay. Bidding starts at $7.50. The site of course refers to Adam "Pacman" Jones, who was recently suspended for a season by the NFL for his transgressions.

Guess This Signature (Answer)

Guess This Signature

It's LaDainian Tomlinson. The funny thing is, I thought that was bad until I saw this. Wow. If you've received a bad autograph, either in person or on a card, email it to me at and I'll feature it. We have to rid the world of bad autographs.