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Blog: Typewriter Ribbons
Created by admin on Tue 18 of Apr, 2006 [23:27 UTC]
Last modified Wed 18 of Jun, 2014 [14:22 UTC]
Description: Forging the finest print
Clippings About the 78-player UFL Lawsuit
Well, I've waited to see if the UFL actually fielded any teams for the spring of 2013, and no, they didn't. But we've got some fresh news about this slow-motion wreck. Turns out Bill Hambrecht signed personal promises to cover two of the teams (Locos and Nighthawks) that failed to pay personnel.
Now, 78 of the players stiffed by the league are naming him in a suit, in order to recoup lost wages. Both the Wall Street Journal and Forbes spent some pixel ink on covering this stage in the UFL's decline.
Mr. Hambrecht says he had wanted the UFL to launch with a broader group of investors, but the 2008 financial crisis complicated matters and the proper financing didn't materialize. Now, he says, "nobody seems to want to let this thing die."
Mr. Hambrecht says he may be able to free up funds to pay UFL players and other personnel due to a planned IPO of Sonoma County winery Truett-Hurst? Inc., in which he owns a stake. Truett-Hurst? filed IPO papers earlier this month. Mr. Hambrecht is also an investor in at least one other firm that he says is a potential IPO candidate. "I hope by next spring to be very liquid," he says.
Lawyers Andrew L. Rempfer, Esq., Walter R. Ulman, Esq. and Burt Rosenblatt, Esq. have been retained by the seventy-eight players and now seek recourse in the amount of over $1.5 million, plus attorneys’ fees and costs. ”Hambrecht signed those personal guarantees, which to me is shocking,” said Rempfer to FORBES. ”I don’t know who told him to sign these personal guarantees, and from what I understand, he still has money somewhere.”
Rempfer also filed a complaint against the UFL, Hambrecht, the Las Vegas Locomotives UFL team and Jim Fassell, in his capacity as head coach, general manager and president of the Locomotives. That complaint was filed in January on behalf of Amp Lee, Dennis Therrell, Donald Eck and Larry Mac Duff, who were all employed as football coaches by the Locomotives and claim that the defendants breached their agreements by also failing to pay them their wages owed.
It sounds to me like the attorneys representing the players ought to explore asking the court to seize Mr Hambrecht's stake in that winery he mentioned. And how about auditing his holdings for more assets? Otherwise, these players could go without compensation for a long time.
The Demise of The United Football League
In mid-October, the most predictable collapse in history finally happened. No, the United States is still limping alone. I mean the United Football League, that unwanted and unappreciated minor professional league with four teams spread far across the country.
The Examiner's Ted Fleming has a good write-up, so I need not rehash the whole story, but in case you didn't know, the UFL limped into a fourth fall season and secured a contract with the CBS Sports Network. Playing a small handful of games, despite a long list of former employees filing suit about unfulfilled payment contracts, the league abruptly suspended operations in the middle of the playing schedule, and announced an intent to finish the season in the spring.
But everyone has difficulty believing there will be a comeback. The league has simply failed to fulfill so many contracts. Unless cash is offered up-front, I don't see personnel being fooled again into suiting up. At best, we may see semi-pro outfits suit up to fulfill any last obligations the UFL has to the CBS Sports Network, if any.
As it stands, the UFL no longer has a website with updated content. They have multiple former coaches suing for back-pay. They had, according to the Las Vegas Review Journal, an attendance of 601 show up at a week two game. Unable to make rents, teams were moving from proper division 1 college stadiums to minor league baseball parks.
All around, the league had major cash-flow problems.
(I'll write an update in a minute)
OK, the day after, I'm back on this. I wanted to restate an old point about cash-flow in alternate professional leagues. The UFL was appallingly stubborn in their franchise fee. In their business model as they started, the cost of a franchise was to be $30 million. A bargain, Mark Cuban pointed out, if the league managed to be on par with the lower-tier NFL teams.
But we never saw more than five franchises, even as teams began failing to make payroll. Steep discounts on expansion teams would have brought in cash needed to service the league's obligations (all teams were majority-owned by the league).
I understand wanting to protect the really valuable real estate for that $30 mil payout, but with towns like LA, Salt Lake, and San Antonio lacking NFL franchises, there were still plenty of places for the UFL to offer discount franchises. Say, Wichita, Tulsa, Memphis, Little Rock, and so on. Sell these for a couple million, and the league-owned franchises could have met their obligations, and the league would have maintained some credibility.
Yes, all those smaller franchises would have gone bankrupt in a year or two, but at least the founding teams could protect their credibility.
The Subscription-based Comment Model
Years ago- I'm certain it predated his blog- David D. Friedman posted an essay online about a microscopic postage charge for e-mail. I think his post may have been so old that it was on UseNet?. Anyway, he had the goal of eliminating primarily spam, but perhaps also careless trolling, perhaps, by charging a microscopic fee for dropping mail into an inbox.
Junk e-mailers, after all, are so prolific because of the non-existent cost that comes with mailing ever address in the known universe. If it cost as little as a cent, however, the cost of mailing millions of inboxes starts adding up. Presumably, the unsolicited mail you receive would vanish, while mailers with truly something important to say to you personally will pay the cent.
Spam filters have gotten a lot better at screening malicious junk emails, but in comment sections on webpages, "trolls" are still a major problem. And it isn't just outright trolling that's a problem. Thoughtless comments still dominate most forums.
It has occurred to many that trolls would only trawl free comment sections. After all, few would find it in their best interest to pay a subscription fee at a place where a moderator would just ban you. The defiant expression a troll might take is "not one red cent!"
We have something of a Laffer Curve situation. You want the subscription fee to be just high enough to deter trolls and the thoughtless, while inexpensive enough not to deter the thoughtful group you want.
Obviously, with a Pigovian tax, you're shrinking your pool to less than everybody. But you still hope for a vibrant community.
Ricochet, the politically center-right hangout of Hoover Institute fellow Peter Robinson and National Review contributor Rob Long, decided to peg their monthly fee to the cost of a grande latte in a Seattle Starbucks, which was $3.67. Buying a year's subscription in bulk drives that down to $2.49 monthly.
At that price point, the conversations are generally intelligent and lively, but I wonder would would happen if the price became pegged to an iTunes single, or the bare threshold of what Paypal deems a micropayment (12 cents). Or what happens when that fee is yearly, rather than monthly.
What difference would it make if, for a few pennies, you had permanent posting privileges?
I recognize that dues-paying clubs attract some commitment in membership, that each member paid for his stake. I believe that dues-paying and better discourse go together. But I also believe that the higher the dues, the more you shrink the pool. There is one sign a web administrator can make to signal that he values a larger community. Mr Robinson, if you seek a more vibrant community, if you seek an expanded commonwealth and liberalized conversation, then come visit your point-of-sale. Mr Robinson, lower the barrier. That's some expensive coffee. Peg it to a cup of black coffee at Dunkin Donuts.
I propose an experiment. Somebody that posts multiple times a day, gets plenty of traffic, and doesn't already have a comment section he's attached to ought to try the micro-pay-to-comment model a try. If I could regain a following, I'd want to give it a try.
The IFL Meltdown, Another AFL Labor Setback
Terrell Owens, expected first-ballot hall-of-fame receiver, recently suffered the indignity of being cut from the Indoor Football League's Allen (TX) Wranglers, the Metroplex-based team the wide receiver actually owns (owned?) a thirty percent stake in.
The primary reason given by the club is TO's failure to make a scheduled team appearance at a children's hospital. They declared TO's contract breached, and therefore voided, and went on to confiscate the company house, Jeep Grand Cherokee, and that 30% ownership stake. The team offered just $50 in severance pay.
Terrell Owens, who afterward fired his long-time agent, insists that he was given the wrong date for the hospital visit, and has threatened to sue the team unless his severance is lifted to $160k, and he's given a public apology.
I'm not specially qualified to give a legal opinion, but the Wranglers hurt themselves by also citing TO's refusal to play in road games as a reason for cutting him. I understand, based on media reports and one of the Wranglers' own press releases, that his contract didn't obligate him to play on the road. It appears to me that the ownership must not have consulted with their lawyers before citing the reasons for dismissal publicly. Good grief.
Terrell, I realize, may have hurt his case, too, by abruptly firing his agent. It opens questions. Did he fire his agent because the hospital mix-up was really the agent's fault? If the Wranglers have good attorneys, that theory will be explored.
As messy as the Allen Wranglers' saga with Terrell Owens looks (a saga that made its way to TV's Dr Phil), it isn't as ugly as what just happened with the Arena Football League.
Friday night, the Pittsburgh Power and the Cleveland Gladiators were expected to take the field as the NFL Network's showcase game, but an abrupt labor strike led to the Gladiators forfeiting, the first forfeit in AFL history.
The league, prepared for the strike, offered a Philadelphia Soul/Milwaukee game instead for the showcase, but the NFL Network was fed-up, and severed their arrangement with the AFL. The league hurriedly managed to get the game on the Comcast Sports Network, an outlet without a national presence. Still, gotta admire the agility the league showed in putting that together.
With the loss of the NFL Network agreement and the alienation of commuting fans especially, it sure looks like the AFL took a larger hit lately than the IFL. Heck, I'll still argue that the Terrell Owens experiment helped the IFL. In the games he did play, the 38-year-old Owens did not display overwhelming superiority over the rest of the league, suggesting that the talent level is at a respectable place.
It will be up to the IFL front office to prevent sudden wildcat strikes from ruining their league. They once again have the chance to leapfrog over the AFL to become the premiere indoor league.
Actual USFL News, And Bissinger On Banning College Football
Buzz Bissinger, author of Friday Night Lights, recently penned an editorial in the Wall Street Journal that called for the end of college football. The arguments in the article probably aren't any anyone casually following the topic aren't anything new, but the arguments are made as well in this article as by anyone, but I think it's really the weight of his reputation that makes the article matter more than if it were written by the common journalist.
It's short, so I won't excerpt any, but read the whole thing. Also see the slideshow that accompanies the article, and the embedded audio of WSJ's 'The Daily Wrap' with host Michael Castner interviewing Bissinger on the article.
For intelligent comments to the article, I'll link the thread started by Ricochet's Peter Robinson's reaction to the article. I consider Ricochet's comment section to be the best in the blogosphere, so whenever I link a provocative article, I should also link to a Ricochet thread about it, so that you can quickly find intelligent perspectives on it.
I see no permalink available, but here's a good one from Paul Rahe:
At a Rhodes Scholarship interview, I once asked a senior from Oklahoma State University what an OSU degree was worth. When he responded with an honorable defense of his alma mater, I drew his attention to a recent graduate — then employed by the Washington Redskins — who was being touted as a model for American youth because he had announced that he was learning how to read."
Football at Dartmouth may not be a problem. At the big state schools, it is. When I pressed the OSU senior, asking him what should be done about the problem, he suggested that the players be paid what their efforts are worth. To that I would not object.
In Bissinger's article, he claims that 43% of Division I football programs are unprofitable. There are 120 such programs, meaning that of the 57 percent that are in the black, we have 68.4 programs. Round that down to 68.
I propose that the esteemed universities housing these 68 programs spin them off into publicly-traded ventures. I further propose that, while converting these college programs into professional clubs, that the idea of offering free classes and board not be abandoned.
Meanwhile, the Associated Press picked up what I've been talking about for some time, that a new ownership group holds the rights to the USFL, and plans to launch next year.
It has been my understanding that a couple of years ago, a fellow named Mike Dwyer picked up the rights with the sincere goal of relaunching the 1980s spring league in full revival. I don't believe he was ultimately successful in attracting start-up capital, and recently sold rights to something called EndZone? Sports Management, which, we're left with the impression, has more resources to actually put teams on the field.
This site claims that Dwyer held on to the rights to put a club in Los Angeles. A good move, since no NFL, arena, or indoor team plays in America's second largest metropolitan area.
The new league website, in it's FAQ, says the league will be a single-entity outfit. I wouldn't know how long they could hold for that. Operating a whole league can be expensive, as start-up costs inevitably mean the first few years will be in the red. Ask Vince McMahon? about how expensive one year of the XFL was.
Link To A USFL Radio Show
Sports Media Watchdog on BlogTalkRadio? has a great interview with Michael Damergis, author of The Rebel League (the USFL book, not the WHL book) about the United States Football League, that springtime outfit from the 1980s that so fascinates me. (Interview here)
It's not nostalgia for the league that interests me. It's how close they apparently came to founding a lasting off-season league. The host and Damergis talked about the several teams based in NFL cities that managed better attendance number than their NFL counterpart.
Also interesting is their observation, which I've noticed, that the annual spring practice scrimmages of the major universities- they cite the University of Michigan gaining 100k spectators- draw full-capacity crowds. Think about it, two units of one college scrimmaging against each other drawing such crowds! It tells you that the thirst for off-season football is still there.
And wherever the demand exist, somebody must be trying to produce the supply.
Bristol Palin: I'm Not Living With My Boyfriend!
I didn't know she had a blog, but she has been, and she's using it to extinguish rumors:
In fact, you may have even recently heard rumors I’m living with my boyfriend. As that gossip spread a couple of weeks ago, people all over America were applauding me for –finally! – coming to my senses and abandoning my no-sex-until-marriage policy. Others are saying that me shacking up with my boyfriend is the height of hypocrisy.
Here’s the thing. It’s not true. As I mentioned before, I recently bought a home across the lake from my parents’ house. While it’s under renovation, I’m actually living in an apartment on their property. Rest assured — there’s no way on earth my mom and dad would allow a guy to spend the night here with me.
Ugly people like Joy Behar are responsible for spreading the rumor. It's shameful that ABC hasn't cancelled The View. Aren't Behar and Whoopie Goldberg the worst people ever?
Also in Bristol news, I saw that her son Tripp went on his first hunting trip!
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