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1.16.18: Rick Horrow sits down with Paul Tagliabue, former NFL commissioner

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USA TODAY Sports

1.16.18: Rick Horrow sits down with Paul Tagliabue, former NFL commissioner

By Rick Horrow

Podcast editor: Tanner Simkins

Rick Horrow sits down with Paul Tagliabue, former NFL commissioner, and takes you through the biggest stories in sports business.

  • LISTEN TO THE FULL PODCAST HERE.
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    • Ahead of this weekend’s big matchups, the NFL and Intuit Inc announced that as part of their multi-year official sponsor partnership, Intuit TurboTax Live will serve as the first-ever presenting sponsor of both the AFC and NFC Championship Games. As a part of the sponsorship, TurboTax Live branding will be featured during the 2019 AFC and NFC Championship Games as well as within ancillary programming and content across league broadcast and digital media platforms. “We’re proud to have Intuit as the NFL’s first-ever presenting sponsor for both AFC and NFC Championship games,” said Renie Anderson, NFL Senior Vice President, NFL Partnerships, Sponsorship and Consumer Products. “Intuit has a longstanding reputation as a leader in the financial and accounting software industry that NFL fans recognize and trust this time of year.” Beyond the presenting sponsorship of both 2019 AFC and NFC Championship games, Intuit also becomes the NFL’s official sponsor for financial and accounting software, as well as tax preparation services.
    • This year’s Indianapolis 500 “will pay special tribute” to Mario Andretti and the 50th anniversary of his only Indy 500 win in 1969. According to the Allentown Morning Call, Andretti’s 50th anniversary celebration will include a “commemorative logo that will be used on the cover of the race program, on special merchandise and other places to celebrate the anniversary,” and the “coveted bronze badges that have long served as credentials that allow garage and pit lane access will feature Andretti.” Beginning May 1, the IMS Museum “will feature a special Andretti section devoted to his entire career.” Because Andretti is “still so involved in IndyCar Series racing,” he will “be around IMS almost all of May.” IndyCar CEO Mark Miles said that he "hopes to make a formal announcement” about a new series title sponsor next month; NTT Data reportedly is in talks as a potential replacement for Verizon. Andretti Autosport, home of rising IndyCar star Zach Veach, will obviously be front and center throughout the May celebration.
    • Thuuz Sports, using their custom designed algorithms to measure real time global event excitement, determined that the Philadelphia Eagles and New Orleans Saints were the most exciting teams throughout the NFL regular season. The Kansas City Chiefs’ record-setting game with the Los Angeles Rams was the most exciting regular season game of 2018. In terms of most exciting teams, the Eagles and Saints were the only teams to have eight games register as “GREAT” on the excitement scale. KC had seven Great Games make the list, while three non-playoff teams – Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Tampa Bay – joined the Rams with six Great Games each. The measurement scores were done on a 0 to 100 scale and take into consideration game pace, team parity, play novelty, momentum shifts, social buzz, and historical context. Coming soon: Thuuz’ evaluation of this year’s thrilling NFL post season matchups, as well as Super Bowl LIII.

Beyond the Scoreboard: Bigger-picture questions about Kevin Durant

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USA TODAY Sports

Beyond the Scoreboard: Bigger-picture questions about Kevin Durant

By Rick Horrow

Podcast Edited by Tanner Simkins

 

To listen to the full podcast, click here.

 

  • The LPGA and Group1001 have announced a new LPGA Tour event in Boca Raton. The first edition of the Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio will be held January 20-26, 2020 at Boca Rio Golf Club. “We are thrilled to support women’s professional golf and to provide a platform for the sport’s best to compete and showcase their talents,” said Dan Towriss, CEO of Group1001. “We want to thank our good friends at Group1001 and Boca Rio Golf Club for their support of the LPGA and their desire to host a world-class event in South Florida,” added LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan. The inaugural Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio will feature a 108-player field competing for a $2 million purse over 72 holes of stroke play. The new event will be one of two LPGA Tour tournaments held in Florida in January 2020. The year will kick off with the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions on January 15-19 in Lake Buena Vista, one week prior to the Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio. The Sunshine State will also bookend the LPGA Tour season, with the year culminating at the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples in November.
  • Kevin Durant will likely miss all of next season after injuring his Achilles during Game 5 of the NBA Finals, throwing NBA free agency into even more chaos. Now, as the Washington Post noted, a “bigger-picture question” has emerged, as it remains to be seen “which teams, and which star players, can afford to wait on Durant’s return to health.” It is a question that "touches nearly every corner of the league, as Durant has been linked in rumors” to the Knicks, Clippers, and Nets outside of the Warriors. What Durant decides to do will obviously impact what other players like Kyrie Irving and Kawhi Leonard decide to do. Durant can choose to opt in to the final year of his contract with the Warriors at $31.5 million and become a free agent in 2020. Durant’s other suitors now have to “calculate whether he’s still worth offering a maximum contract over four years, even if he might not play for the first year of the deal.” Durant’s future also has medical undercurrents. It will impact how other athletes manage devastating injuries like Achilles tears, companies like Embody whose mission is to treat such injuries via technology, and the global financial funds that underwrite NBA teams and medical startups alike.
  • The 2019 French Open generated more revenue for Tennis Channel’s streaming service than any tournament in the subscription platform’s five-year history. With a record high presentation of up to 12 live courts per day, Tennis Channel Plus took in more than $1 million in subscriber revenue from Roland Garros’ first day of qualifiers all the way through to championship Sunday. This marks a 25% uptick from 2018, and a more than 500% increase compared to the 2014 French Open, when the Tennis Channel Plus service first launched. Tennis Channel’s 15-day live coverage of the French Open averaged 266,000 viewers in 2019 according to Nielsen, up 42% over the 187,000 average viewers in 2018. Tournament coverage led to live tune-in growth across key demographics for Tennis Channel as well, with a 35% rise in adult viewers aged 18-49, 41% increases in adults aged 25-54 and 55% increases in adults aged 35-64. This is all terrific news for Tennis Channel CEO Ken Solomon and his staff, now gearing up for a busy summer of tennis coverage highlighted by Wimbledon and culminating in the U.S. Open in New York come August.

NASCAR at Sonoma: everything you need to know about racing this weekend

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Stan Szeto/USA Today Sports

NASCAR at Sonoma: everything you need to know about racing this weekend

Who's ready to turn left and right?

This weekend, NASCAR makes their annual trip to Wine Country and Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California for the Toyota Save-Mart 350, the 16th race of the 2019 NASCAR Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season. Martin Truex Jr. is looking to defend his win from last season and earn his fourth checkered flag of the season.

Here's what we're watching for on Sunday afternoon in the Toyota Save-Mart 350 (Sundat, 3:30 p.m. EDT on Fox Sports 1).

WEEKEND SCHEDULE

SONOMA RACEWAY (Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series)

Friday, June 21

First practice: 2:40 p.m. ET (tape delayed at 3 ET on FS1)

Final practice: 5:40 p.m. ET (FS1)

Saturday, June 22

Qualifying: 3:10 p.m. ET (FS1)

Sunday, June 23

Toyota/Save Mart 350 (FS1)

WORLD WIDE TECHNOLOGY RACEWAY AT GATEWAY (Gander Outdoors Truck Series)

Saturday, June 22

First practice: 11:35 a.m. ET (no TV)

Final practice: 1:35 p.m. ET (no TV)

Qualifying: 6:35 p.m. ET (8:30 ET, tape delay on FS2)

CarShield 200 presented by CK Power: 10 p.m. ET (FS1)

SONOMA STATISTICS

Sonoma Raceway: 2.52-mile, 12-turn road course

Race information: 90 laps, 226.8 miles

Stage lengths: 20 laps, 20 laps, 50 laps

Defending winner: Martin Truex Jr.

Most wins: Jeff Gordon (5)

The Return of "The Carousel"

The first of three road course events on the year, the California circuit will feature the 2.52-mile, 12-turn layout for the first time since 1997.

In celebration of Sonoma’s 50th year, the track and Speedway Motorsports Incorporated (SMI) opted to switch the track layout from its familiar 11-turn, 1.99-mile arrangement for the original 12-turn one that was used from 1968-1997.

The NTT IndyCar Series uses “The Carousel” in their annual pilgrimage to Sonoma, but zero current Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers competing in Sunday’s event have run the new layout.

The Big ... Two?

Odds are if you drive for Joe Gibbs Racing or Team Penske, you’re feeling good about your speed in your race car thus far this season.

Those two organizations have won 14 of the 15 races thus far in 2019, with six different drivers from gracing Victory Lane (Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports won at Talladega). With the new aerodynamic package in play for 2019, it’s clear that JGR and Penske are ahead of the pack.

Heck, at this point last season, Stewart-Haas Racing had seven victories, Kevin Harvick grabbing five of them. So far this season, Harvick has zero victories and a best finish of fourth (five times). With Clint Bowyer and Daniel Suarez having contracts up at the end of the year, a couple seats may be getting a bit warmer in the SHR camp.

Summer Stretch Begins Now

Sonoma marks the first of nine consecutive races into mid-August to kick off NASCAR’s summer stretch. On the heels of a rare off weekend, drivers and teams are gearing up for the summer stretch that’ll travel to Sonoma, Chicago, Kentucky, New Hampshire, Pocono, Watkins Glen, Michigan and Bristol.

With only six drivers having won a race thus far, the summer stretch seems to be the perfect proving ground for new drivers to win in 2019 and jumpstart their season.

One Last Boogity, Boogity, Boogity

After 18 years in the FOX Sports broadcast booth, Jaws is calling it a career.

Darrell Waltrip will call his last NASCAR race as a broadcaster on Sunday afternoon, alongside Mike Joy and Jeff Gordon. Waltrip, an 84-time Cup Series winner, three-time champion and NASCAR Hall of Famer, has been in NASCAR for the last 47 years, dating back to his first career start in 1972.

Waltrip does not have any big plans in his next chapter of what has been an iconic career. Kicking off FOX’s coverage in the 2001 Daytona 500, a race that saw his younger brother Michael Waltrip win for the first time and Dale Earnhardt tragically pass away in a crash, Waltrip has been there for almost the last 20 years of NASCAR racing.

From its height to the low points, Waltrip has remained a fixture of NASCAR races on television and in the FOX Sports booth. From all of us here at NBC, we tip our cap to you, DW.

Thanks for the memories. It’s been an incredible ride.

2019 NASCAR STANDINGS

1. Joey Logano (2 wins)

2. Kyle Busch, -9, (4 wins)

3. Brad Keselowski, -73 (3 wins)

4. Kevin Harvick, -75 (0 wins)

5. Chase Elliott, -83 (1 win)

6. Martin Truex Jr., -115 (3 wins)

7. Denny Hamlin, -123 (2 wins)

8. Kurt Busch, -129 (0 wins)

9. Ryan Blaney, -180 (0 wins)

10. Alex Bowman, -181 (0 wins)

Next week, NASCAR returns to the NBC family of networks at Chicagoland Speedway for the Camping World 400 on Sunday, June 30 at 3 p.m. EDT.