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Posts from January 2024.

Welcome back to the Spotlight! As we prepare for the NFL Conference Championships this upcoming weekend, the fan bases of the Green Bay Packers and Buffalo Bills are still looking back to their losses last weekend, reflecting about what could have been.  In both teams’ losses, their field goal kickers missed a field goal at crucial moments in their respective games. As a lawyer frequently under similar pressure-packed circumstances, it’s hard not to empathize with them. Aside from the obvious similarities in being unparalleled Adonis-like physical specimens, when things are going as they should (kicks made, deals closed) you seldom hear about a kicker’s or lawyer’s performance. But when things go wide-left, wide-right, short or off the uprights, kickers (like lawyers) are the first ones to be blamed – even when there were other opportunities to prevent things from getting to that point. To err is human, so the best of the best and most dependable still make mistakes, but with the help of teammates and the occasional support of fans, are able to make adjustments and prepare themselves for the next time to grab a hint of glory or at least avoid the negative spotlight.

    • Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s career comes full circle as the former WWE wrestler finds himself on the board of directors for WWE’s holding company, TKO Group. As part of the arrangement, Johnson is finally getting full IP rights to his nickname—provided all board proposals are to be introduced with “if you smell what The Rock is cooking…”

    • Country legend Dolly Parton rolls out a co-branded line of breakfast baking mixes. No fat-free or sugar-free options are offered so far so those looking to Jo—(err… go) lean need to look elsewhere. 

    • Based on trademark filings leading up to Tiger Woods’ and Nike’s agreement to part ways, golf equipment and apparel brand Taylor Made seems to be a likely partner – presumably in a joint venture -- for Woods’ next move. Woods’ golf bag is already filled with Taylor Made clubs, so the potential tie-up is…well…(too easy).  

If there’s one thing that the docuseries and (as of Monday night) winner of four Emmy Awards “Welcome to Wrexham” highlights, it is never to underestimate the power of storytelling through sports.  In the case of “Welcome to Wrexham,” authentic, compelling and feel-good storytelling about a humble Welsh town and its humble football club has vaulted both into the collective consciousness.  Other feel good storytelling came on successive days last week as both the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles were eliminated from the NFL playoffs. Yes, my New York Giants did not make the playoffs, BUT they got a better draft pick a head start on their trip to Cancun – so you tell me who came out on top.
However, the stories that sports can tell are not always rosy. Last week, Israeli footballer Sagiv Jehezkel was suspended by Turkish football club Antalyaspor for a goal celebration in which he paid tribute to the people taken hostage in Israel 100 days earlier. He was, by the way, arrested and deported by Turkish authorities for the same act --  but that’s neither here nor there.  Just a few days before that, South Africa’s U-19 World Cup Cricket team stripped one of its top players, David Teeger (who is Jewish) of his captaincy out of fear that protests could be inflamed during the tournament. That said, in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, in which the Jews were banned from competition by Nazi Germany, Jesse Owens—a black man—took home four gold medals for the U.S., in what many viewed as an affront to the Nazi regime. So perhaps amongst the dearth of courage and surplus of antisemitism, perhaps there is still an inspiring story to come…

    • The NFL’s decision to put the AFC Wild Card matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and Miami Dolphins behind a paywall on NBC’s streaming service Peacock, ruffled some rainbow-colored feathers. But in the end, 23 million people tuned in to watch Taylor Swift watch a football game.

    • Recently convicted actor Jonathan Majors, who had already had his deal with Marvel Studios terminated, was also axed from playing the lead role in an upcoming film about NBA Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman’s infamous trip to Las Vegas during the 1998 NBA Finals. You know you’re in a bad way when your conduct keeps you from playing Dennis Rodman.

    • Former Heavyweight champion boxer Mike Tyson brings his cannabis brand back to his roots in New York state – even in retirement, he keeps adding to his list of knockouts.

    • NCAA president Charlie Baker testifies before Congress on the state of college athletics and name, image and likeness regulations—which would be the clearest sign that federal legislation is on the horizon—if not for the fact that, you know—it’s Congress.

Welcome back to the Spotlight!  We’re barely into the New Year and it has been an eventful one already. First, (and you would be forgiven for not knowing this, but…) the Golden Globes took place this past Sunday.  The theme of the night seemed to be “bombs” and not much else, as Christopher Nolan’s biopic thriller Oppenheimer swept the major film categories, meanwhile the evening’s host, comedian Jo Koy had a rough go of it with his jokes. The next night a quarterback took a beating--not in the College Football National Championship (my sympathies to my Washington Huskies colleagues)—but rather at the hands of a more skilled J.K. comedian, as (J)immy (K)immel addressed the war of words between he and Aaron Rodgers arising from Rodgers’ implying that Kimmel’s name would appear on the list of Jeffrey Epstein’s associates. Of course, that turned out to be false (paging defamation litigators…) but that’s neither here nor there. Meanwhile four prominent sports fixtures (3 of whom being football coaches, and 1 of whom being Tiger Woods) have turned pages on respective decades of history. University of Alabama coach Nick Saban, Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick have each retired or simply moved on from their respective teams’ sidelines after remarkable careers, while Tiger Woods has ended his 27 year relationship with NIKE Golf.  What awaits them this year and beyond is anyone’s guess. What awaits you is even more Spotlight.

    • An AI-generated, deepfake ad of Taylor Swift purportedly endorsing French cookware brand Le Creuset (which is French for “The Creuset”) highlights the need of brands and celebrities alike to be vigilant, place more of a premium on authenticity—in real ads. It’s little wonder that Congress is setting its sights on the issue.

    • The trend of original sports content marches on, with LeBron James, Jayson Tatum, Jimmy Butler and other NBA stars signing on to participate in a Netflix docuseries (produced by James’ SpringHill Company, Peyton Manning’s Omaha Productions and Barack Obama’s Higher Ground Productions) similar to Netflix and Omaha Productions’ “Quarterback” series. Unfortunately, the market for original sports lawyer content does not seem as robust.

    • KETO-friendly snack and cereal company, Catalina Crunch unveils its endorsement relationship with New York Knicks point guard Jalen Brunson. As a lifelong Knicks fan, this seems like a great fit – both Catalina Crunch and the Knicks can help you lose parts of yourself.

Happy New Year, and welcome back to the Spotlight! If your New Year’s resolution is to get up to speed on the latest in the sports and entertainment business, while also getting the occasional chuckle, you have come to the right place. Skeptical? You have nothing to lose—and I’m far less expensive than that impossible-to-cancel gym membership that you’re never going to use anyway. That being said, if you're trying to cut back on the amount of cheese you consume, then you're out of luck. As we roll into 2024, maybe you’re energized by a clean slate for the year ahead or (like me) propelled forward with a fantasy football championship

    • At the stroke of midnight on January 1, 2024, the copyrights in the original "Steamboat Willie" character on which Mickey Mouse was based fell into the public domain and opened up the door to no shortage of gory horror films (“we’ve got fears, say ”’cheers!’”) featuring the aforementioned mouse. This is great news to those of us who thought parenting wasn't hard enough these days.

    • New York Jets Quarterback Aaron Rodgers strongly implied that late night talk show host and comedian Jimmy Kimmel’s name would appear on a list of associates of convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.  With good reason, Kimmel took exception to the jab (apparently motivated by Rodgers’ animus towards Kimmel’s jokes about him), threatening legal action against Rodgers. You might call Rodgers’ grudges his Achilles.

    • In an effort to bring in a new audience for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, NBCUniversal is enlisting the services of Snoop Dogg, who may be utterly disappointed to find out what it means to pass the torch.

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