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Chris Silva Signs with IPZ

COLUMBIA, S.C. + WARREN, N.J., April 4, 2019 – Chris Silva, two-time First Team All-SEC and All-Defensive Team selection at the University of South Carolina, has signed with IPZ, Silva and the company announced today.

The six-foot-nine forward hails from Libreville, Gabon and his journey to America has been well-chronicled. He played high school basketball in the United States for Roselle Catholic in New Jersey and won the 2013 Tournament of Champions with the Lions.

The South Carolina Gamecocks made a historic NCAA Tournament run to the Final Four in 2017, due, in large part, to Chris Silva. As a sophomore, Silva had a breakout season: he started all 37 games and averaged 10.2 points, 6.1 rebounds, and a team-high 1.4 blocks in 21.0 minutes per game. In the matchup against top-seeded Gonzaga, in South Carolina’s first ever Final Four appearance, Silva scored 13 points and secured 13 rebounds.

Silva continued to improve as an upperclassman and was crowned SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year for the 2017-18 campaign. Additionally, he was selected to the First Team All-SEC and All-Defensive Team in back-to-back seasons.

He also led the Gamecocks in multiple categories in his junior and senior years with, in his junior year, 14.3 points per game, 8.0 rebounds per game, 1.4 blocks per game, and he shot 46.7% from the field. In his senior year, Silva’s team leading figures included averaging 15.2 points/game, 7.6 rebounds/game, 1.9 blocks/game, with a field goal percentage of 50.8%, including 50% from three-point range.

Silva was recently named to the NABC All-District Second Team for his final season as a Gamecock.

“It was clear to all those who watched South Carolina’s games this season that Chris was the emotional and physical leader of the team, and one of the best players in the SEC,” said Robert Zito, Managing Partner of IPZ. “His relationship with his coach and teammates as a student, leader, and teammate was evident.”

Silva is the only player in the history of South Carolina’s program to record at least 700 rebounds and 500 free throws in his career. He earned multiple academic honors as a student-athlete and will graduate this year with a degree in IT.

“I am so appreciative of the opportunity the coaching staffs in high school and college – and all my teammates – gave me and I look forward to the road ahead with the team at IPZ,” said Silva.

“In 34 years of coaching, I don’t think I’ve had a player work as hard as Chris Silva to get better,” said Frank Martin, Head Basketball Coach at South Carolina. “He is an unbelievable young man of tremendous character who is a really really good basketball player.”

About IPZ: IPZ represents clients in sports, media, and entertainment, providing management, contract negotiations, consulting, public relations and marketing communications support. The company, an alliance with Zito Partners, is built on the integrity of its professionals, maintains a family focus, and provides whole life solutions for its clients. For more information, visit www.ipzusa.com.

Lou Fusz Athletic To Offer Naming Rights For Complex

ST. LOUIS, March 14, 2019 – Lou Fusz Athletic (LFA) will offer the naming rights to its complex, one of the most visited athletic facilities in the Midwest, the organization announced today.

Approximately 1.2 million people visit LFA’s facilities annually and this number is continually growing. LFA is home to hundreds of teams and thousands of camp participants, between the ages of five and 18, across multiple sports, with family members of all ages in attendance to watch. LFA also hosts numerous soccer and lacrosse tournaments throughout the year which bring nearly 100,000 families from the greater St. Louis area to its facilities.

The Lou Fusz Athletic Training Center at Rams Park, the former home of the St. Louis Rams, is a 300,000 square foot facility and acts as the hub for all LFA teams, tournaments, and camps. With its state-of-the-art indoor fields, outdoor fields, and amenities, such as strength/speed/agility training rooms, a weight room, a rehab and physical therapy room, and an auditorium for presentations, the LFA Training Center receives visitors year-round.

“As a club, this facility reminds us every day of the professional nature of our approach,” said Dan Gargan, Managing Director of LFA, and a 10-year MLS veteran. “It has been home to world class athletes who showed up every day to better their craft. We connect our core values to that approach and work every day to enhance the lives of the athletes and families we serve.”

“This facility offers one of the most attractive family environments in the country,” said Robert Zito, Managing Partner of IPZ, who will manage the marketing process. “There is a tremendous opportunity here for a local or national brand to build equity, as the continued growth of Lou Fusz Athletic and its exciting vision for the future of the club and facility will only add to its attractiveness.”

About Lou Fusz Athletic 

Lou Fusz Athletic (“LFA”) is a 501(c)3 youth sports club and the charitable arm of the Lou Fusz Automotive Network. LFA’s objective is to align you with unique touch-points of the club’s family of players and fans through various branding opportunities and events.

About IPZ

IPZ represents clients in sports, media, and entertainment, providing management, contract negotiations, consulting, public relations and marketing communications support. The company, an alliance with Zito Partners, is built on the integrity of its professionals, maintains a family focus, and provides whole life solutions for its clients. For more information, visit www.ipzusa.com.

Pro Agents Forms Strategic Alliance with IPZ

Baseball Agency Teams Up with Sports and Entertainment Agency

WOODBRIDGE, NJ, and WARREN, NJ, June 12, 2018Pro Agents, Inc., a full-service professional baseball agency, has formed a strategic alliance with IPZ, the companies announced today.

Pro Agents was established in 1995 by Major League Baseball (MLB) agents David Pepe and Billy Martin, Jr. Over the past 23 years, Pepe and Martin, Jr., combined, have negotiated more than $200 million in contracts. Among the players the agency has represented or currently represents are 6-time MLB All-Star Joe Nathan, former MLB pitcher Carl Pavano, current Dodgers’ pitcher Tom Koehler, and Angels’ 2016 first round pick Matt Thaiss.

Known for its expertise in sophisticated contract negotiation and shrewd off-field management, Pro Agents will receive support from IPZ with public relations and marketing opportunities for current and former baseball clients.  In addition, IPZ, through its network of coaches and sports contacts, will refer baseball players to Pro Agents for representation.  Mr. Pepe, a member of the New Jersey Bar, will also be available to assist with other contracts for IPZ athletes.

“It is an honor to work with the professionals at IPZ to help us continue to provide the best service available to all Pro Agents’ clients,” said Pro Agents’ David Pepe.

“I had the pleasure of working with Dave’s father, the great sportswriter Phil Pepe of the Daily News, and covering Billy‘s dad, the former Yankee manager, during my days as a sportswriter,” said IPZ Founder Robert Zito. “I’ve followed Dave’s career and am thrilled we will now have the opportunity to work together. Pro Agents has the same family philosophy and commitment to integrity that IPZ has. Together, we will provide a trusted resource for players and their families.”

About IPZ: IPZ represents clients in sports, media, and entertainment, providing management, contract negotiations, consulting, public relations and marketing communications support. The company, an alliance with Zito Partners, is built on the integrity of its professionals, maintains a family focus, and provides whole life solutions for its clients. For more information, visit www.ipzusa.com.

New Zealand Breakers’ New Marketing Effort Tips Off

IPZ and Zito Partners to Assist

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND and WARREN, NJ, June 5, 2018 – The New Zealand Breakers, a professional basketball team that competes in the National Basketball League (NBL), Australia’s top-league, has teamed up with IPZ and Zito Partners (ZP) to assist in its branding and marketing efforts.

The New Zealand Breakers organization was founded in 2003 and has made seven NBL playoff appearances, winning four NBL Championships (2011, 2012, 2013, 2015) in the club’s 15 seasons of existence. With its home in Auckland, the Breakers are the only non-Australian team competing in the NBL.

According to a 2016-17 study by Nielsen Sports Research, the Breakers have more than 107,000 fans with 90% being likely to attend a game.

In February 2018, former NBA player Matt Walsh and his business partners Adam Goodman, Romie Chaudhari, Dan Katz, and NBA All-Star Shawn Marion became the Breakers’ majority stakeholders.

“We couldn’t be more excited about this partnership,” said NZ Breakers’ Matt Walsh. “IPZ and Zito Partners have worked with top brands and businesses across all industries and we look forward to working closely to take the Breakers to the next level.”

“Matt and his young ownership group are bringing NBA excitement to the NBL,” said IPZ and Zito Partners’ founder Robert Zito. “This is a dynamic group of professionals who will energize Auckland, the NBL and its sponsors and fans. We’re thrilled to be part of the team.”

About New Zealand Breakers: The New Zealand Breakers are an Auckland, New Zealand-based professional basketball team that competes in the Australian National Basketball League. For more information, visit www.nzbreakers.basketball.

About IPZ: IPZ represents clients in sports, media, and entertainment, providing management, contract negotiations, consulting, public relations and marketing communications support. The company, an alliance with Zito Partners, is built on the integrity of its professionals, maintains a family focus, and provides whole life solutions for its clients. For more information, visit www.ipzusa.com.

About Zito Partners: Zito Partners builds, energizes and defends brands. A boutique firm representing a select group of clients from a range of industries, Zito Partners believes in a “ready, aim, fire” approach – understand the client…develop the appropriate strategy against the key target constituencies…and execute against the plan. And through its strategic alliance with Ketchum, Ketchum Zito Financial, Zito Partners is assisting additional clients with their financial communications needs. For more information, visit www.zitopartners.com.

NJ Biz Picks Up The Pearl

By Howard Burns

Basketball Hall of Famer and former New York Knicks star Earl “The Pearl” Monroe has signed for representation with IPZ, the management, representation and consulting company aligned with Warren-based public relations and marketing communications Zito Partners, the company announced.

The 1968 NBA Rookie of the Year and four-time All-Star has spent more than 30 years in the entertainment industry, with projects ranging from off-Broadway musicals to running his own record and publishing company. He also won the Peabody Award for producing the critically acclaimed documentary “Black Magic.” Monroe also does TV and radio commentary for the Knicks.

Additionally, Monroe is a motivational speaker and has written two books: “Earl the Pearl, My Story,” published in 2013, and “Getting Back in the Game,” a self-help book that is soon to be published.

Monroe has been a spokesperson for companies including Emblem HealthRemy MartinAmerican Heart AssociationBoehringer-Ingelheim, and most recently, Merck, where he led an award-winning campaign called “Diabetes Restaurant Month.”

“Class is the word that describes Earl,” said IPZ Managing Partner Robert Zito in a statement. “From his days on the court, to his family life, to helping his community and representing brands, ‘The Pearl’ is the class of class when it comes to ambassadors representing brands.”

View on NJ Biz.

EARL MONROE JOINS IPZ

NBA Legend Signs with IPZ for Representation

WARREN, NJ, April 24, 2018 – Earl “The Pearl” Monroe, Hall of Fame basketball player, has signed with IPZ, the company announced today.

The 1968 NBA Rookie of the Year, four-time NBA All-Star (1969, 1971, 1975, 1977), and 1973 NBA World Champion began his basketball legacy as a collegiate senior when he led Winston-Salem State College to a National Championship in 1967 while averaging 41.7 points per game. That same year, Monroe was selected second overall in the NBA Draft by the Baltimore Bullets.

“The Pearl” enjoyed a 13-year career in the NBA and played with the Bullets from 1967-1971 until he was traded to the New York Knickerbockers. Monroe joined fellow Hall of Famer Walt Frazier and the pair was named the “Rolls Royce Backcourt.” Together, Monroe and Frazier led the Knicks to victory in the 1973 NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Philly native retired from the NBA in a Knicks uniform in 1980. In 1989, Monroe was elected to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. Eight years later, Monroe was voted one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history.

Outside of basketball, Monroe has spent more than 30 years in the entertainment industry; projects have included producing off-broadway musicals to running his own record and publishing company. He also won the Peabody Award for producing the critically-acclaimed documentary Black Magic, which helped launch ESPN’s famed series 30 for 30. Monroe also does TV and radio commentary for the Knicks.

Additionally, Monroe is also a motivational speaker and has written two books, Earl the Pearl, My Story was published in 2013 and Getting Back in the Game is a self-help book that is soon to be published. He holds two honorary Doctorate Degrees, one from Manhattanville College and the other from his alma mater, Winston-Salem.

Monroe has been a spokesperson for companies such as Emblem Health, Remy Martin, American Heart Association, Boehringer-Ingelheim, and most recently, Merck, where he led an award-winning campaign called “Diabetes Restaurant Month.” “The Pearl” has traveled around the country to deliver the message, to people with type 2 diabetes, of maintaining a healthy diet when eating out.

“Since retiring from the game, it has been a pleasure to assist brands I feel strongly about,” said Monroe.  “And now, developing concepts for brands, while keeping my hand in the music and film industries, has been a great “Overtime” opportunity I cherish.”

“Class is the word that describes Earl,” said IPZ Managing Partner Robert Zito. “From his days on the court…to his family life…to helping his community…and representing brands, “The Pearl” is the class of class when it comes to ambassadors representing brands.”

About IPZ: IPZ represents clients in sports, media, and entertainment, providing management, contract negotiations, consulting, public relations and marketing communications support. The company, an alliance with Zito Partners, is built on the integrity of its professionals, maintains a family focus, and provides whole life solutions for its clients. For more information, visit www.ipzusa.com.

About Zito Partners: Zito Partners builds, energizes and defends brands. A boutique firm representing a select group of clients from a range of industries, Zito Partners believes in a “ready, aim, fire” approach – understand the client…develop the appropriate strategy against the key target constituencies…and execute against the plan. And through its strategic alliance with Ketchum, Ketchum Zito Financial, Zito Partners is assisting additional clients with their financial communications needs. For more information, visit www.zitopartners.com.

OLEG PRUDIUS SIGNS WITH IPZ

Former WWE Superstar (a.k.a. Vladimir Kozlov) to be Represented by Both Combat Sports and Entertainment Divisions

WARREN, NJ, February 27, 2018 – Oleg Prudius, also known as Vladimir Kozlov from his days as a WWE Superstar, has signed with IPZ, the company announced today.

Prudius officially began his career as an entertainer in 2002 and one of his first projects was Spike Lee’s 2002 film 25th Hour in which he played a small role. The following year, Prudius appeared in multiple episodes of the HBO series The Wire.

The six-foot-three Ukrainian-American then took a short break from acting to pursue combat sports competitively. In 2005, Prudius became the USA Open Heavyweight Sambo Champion and a United States Kick-Boxing Association (USKBA) International Heavyweight Grappling Champion.

A year later, Prudius decided to combine his expertise in combat sports with his passion for entertaining and embarked on his journey as a professional wrestler. In December 2006, Prudius made an appearance as a World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) prospect on Raw under the name Vladimir Kozlov. The ring name stuck.

From 2006 to 2011, Kozlov was a mainstay on the brand’s various programs: WWE Raw, WWE SmackDown, WWE NXT, and WWE Superstars. Simultaneously, from 2007 to 2010, Kozlov also played a significant role in a show created by WWE Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon called Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW).

Prudius dove into another element of entertainment when he voiced his character Vladimir Kozlov in two video games: WWE SmackDown vs. RAW 2011 and WWE ’12.

Kozlov competed in his last WWE match on an episode of SmackDown that aired on August 5, 2011. Prudius decided to continue his professional wrestling career in Japan for the Inoki Genome Federation and assumed a somewhat new ring name, Alexander Kozlov. On October 16, 2012, Prudius retired from professional wrestling.

Since, Prudius has returned to acting in films and television shows. In 2013, he starred in 30 Cuts Deep and appeared in an episode of USA Network’s Burn Notice.

In 2016, the WWE did a Where Are They Now? feature on Prudius and it has amassed the most views of any in the series with more than 1.2 million and counting.

In 2017, Prudius had roles in three films, all hits in the box office. He appeared in John Wick: Chapter 2 and the eighth installment of the famed Fast & Furious franchise, The Fate of the Furious. The third and most recent film he acted in is the second highest-grossing film of all-time in a single market. Wolf Warrior 2 grossed more than $874 million in the Chinese box office and it became the only non-Hollywood film ever to be included in the list of 100 all-time highest-grossing films worldwide. Prudius played the role of Bear, the muscle of the villains.

“For an athlete, pro-wrestler, actor and producer like me, the notion of a brand or product with recognizable quality is paramount,” said Prudius. “I have achieved the highest accolades in combat sports, built a recognizable name in the WWE and the entertainment industry, but I always strive to get to the next level – to create a name brand like Michael Jordan or Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Bob Zito, managing partner of IPZ, has an impeccable reputation, experience and understanding of business, a wide network of contacts across various industries ranging from entertainment and sports to pharmaceuticals and finance. I like the fact that Bob was able to put together a young team of dedicated people that have vision, knowledge, a worldwide reach and all the other necessary tools to produce great results and benefits for everyone involved. This is why being represented by IPZ is a sensible choice for me.”

“I’m happy to announce that we, at IPZ, have added Oleg to our Combat Sports and Media + Entertainment groups,” said Alec Savitsky, IPZ’s director of combat sports. “As a champion fighter, former WWE superstar, and accomplished actor, Oleg has built a brand recognized worldwide. We are excited to explore new opportunities with Oleg and help him continue to expand in all facets of his career.”

“Oleg has always attacked everything he does in life with passion, and that will be welcomed by brands,” said Robert Zito, IPZ managing partner. “He also works his butt off, never looking for star treatment. He’s got a blue collar attitude that I personally love.”

About IPZ: IPZ represents clients in sports, media, and entertainment, providing management, contract negotiations, consulting, public relations and marketing communications support. The company, an alliance with Zito Partners, is built on the integrity of its professionals, maintains a family focus, and provides whole life solutions for its clients. For more information, visit www.ipzusa.com.

About Zito Partners: Zito Partners builds, energizes and defends brands. A boutique firm representing a select group of clients from a range of industries, Zito Partners believes in a “ready, aim, fire” approach – understand the client…develop the appropriate strategy against the key target constituencies…and execute against the plan. And through its strategic alliance with Ketchum, Ketchum Zito Financial, Zito Partners is assisting additional clients with their financial communications needs. For more information, visit www.zitopartners.com.

ALEXEY OLEYNIK CHOOSES IPZ

UFC Fighter Signs with Sports and Entertainment Agency

WARREN, NJ, February 27, 2018 – Alexey Oleynik, a UFC fighter in the heavyweight division, has signed with IPZ, the company announced today.

“The Boa Constrictor” as Oleynik is also known, is a Ukrainian-Russian who stands at six-foot-one and weighs 241 pounds. Oleynik began his combat sports career in 1997 and has competed in grappling, Ju-Jitsu, combat sambo, and mixed martial arts events.

Since kicking off his professional career nearly 21 years ago, Oleynik has posted an overall record of 55-11-1. This spans across all leagues and competitions he’s participated in which include the UFC, Bellator, M-1 Global, KSW, YAMMA Pit Fighting, and many more.

In November 2013, The Boa Constrictor announced that he signed a contract with the UFC. Oleynik made his debut against Anthony Hamilton on June 28, 2014 at UFC Fight Night 44. He won the fight early in the first round.

A few months later, Oleynik competed in and won his second UFC fight against Jared Rosholt on November 22.

After a short stint away, due to injury, Oleynik returned to the octagon on July 13, 2016, and has been competing on a consistent basis since. He holds a 4-2 record in the UFC and has taken home Performance of the Night bonuses twice.

As of July 2017, Oleynik is ranked #11 overall in the official UFC heavyweight rankings.

Oleynik is set to take on Junior Albini in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on May 12, 2018 for his next UFC bout.

“My partnership with IPZ feels very natural to me,” said Oleynik. “IPZ’s goal is to position its clients in the best light to secure sponsorships and a successful post-athletic career. As a seasoned athlete, the possibility of retirement is always looming. The nature of combat sports is extremely unpredictable due to the injuries that can end fighter’s career at any moment. The uncertain reality of combat sports constantly forces me to think about life beyond competition, my future earnings, and my ability to continue to do what I love. IPZ recognizes the value in me by being a well-known athlete, especially in my native country Russia, and within the Mixed Martial Arts community around the world. As a current top UFC heavyweight fighter and one of the best grappling technicians in the world, I want to share my knowledge and experience of competing at the highest level with as many people as I can. IPZ presented me with a plan that addressed my concerns and will open a new and exciting chapter in my life. I am confident that with IPZ’s worldwide network, I will be able to maximize my exposure to my fans, MMA practitioners, and continue building my legacy.”

“We are thrilled to have an outstanding athlete in Alexey join the IPZ family,” said Director of Combat Sports Alec Savitsky. “Alexey is a top UFC heavyweight fighter and one of the best submission fighters in the world. With his upcoming – seventh career – UFC fight in Rio and beyond, we look forward to tapping into the possibilities of growing Alexey’s brand around the world.”

“Humble and kind. No, not the Tim McGraw song. That’s how I would describe Alexey,” said IPZ Managing Partner Robert Zito. “First impressions mean a lot. When Alexey walked into our meeting, I was taken by how humble he was. Here is a man who has not just excelled in his field for decades, but he has trained nine world champions. That is simply amazing.”

About IPZ: IPZ represents clients in sports, media, and entertainment, providing management, contract negotiations, consulting, public relations and marketing communications support. The company, an alliance with Zito Partners, is built on the integrity of its professionals, maintains a family focus, and provides whole life solutions for its clients. For more information, visit www.ipzusa.com.

About Zito Partners: Zito Partners builds, energizes and defends brands. A boutique firm representing a select group of clients from a range of industries, Zito Partners believes in a “ready, aim, fire” approach – understand the client…develop the appropriate strategy against the key target constituencies…and execute against the plan. And through its strategic alliance with Ketchum, Ketchum Zito Financial, Zito Partners is assisting additional clients with their financial communications needs. For more information, visit www.zitopartners.com.

Eli Manning and a Lesson in Leadership

(and why 57 years of rooting for this franchise just imploded)

Class Act.

Important description in any commentary.

Eli Manning is a Class Act.

No, he’s not the best quarterback; probably far from it.

Yes, he’s had some great games…and been the quarterback on two Super Bowl winning teams.

But he was the first to admit those wins were a team effort – and while he had some great games in those playoff runs, he realized he was on teams with great defenses, which put him in a position to be that winning quarterback.

Class Act.

As does every NFL team, Giants’ fans know Eli is not mobile. And today’s NFL mandates a quarterback is.

That doesn’t mean a Fran Tarkenton scrambler; it simply means someone who can move in the pocket…avoid pressure…and run for the important first down or touchdown when the offensive line collapses, or the defense simply hands you the yardage. Or to give defenses one more thing to think about.

So the Giants go into this season knowing they have an aging, immobile quarterback who needs some protection to get the ball to a supposedly talented corps of receivers.

And the “brilliant” GM never decides to upgrade the offensive line.

Eli never complains.

Class Act.

It’s a lesson in leadership for every manager. Never blame the troops. Be a team player. And when ownership agrees with the “brilliant” GM (and clueless head coach) to have you walk the plank, say while you don’t like the decision, you’ll do everything you can to help the new guy.

Class Act.

Great lesson.

 

Bloomberg Looks at NFL Controversy

NFL’s $205 Million Man Is Hated by Everyone But Those Who Matter

By Felix Gillette

If you’re going to sign your outfit’s top executive to a long-term compensation deal worth tens of millions of dollars, you want to be absolutely confident he can handle any crisis, shut down the pitchforks, snuff out the torches and restore order.

Roger Goodell, the National Football League commissioner, will probably be just fine anyway.

The ruckus over whether players should — or should be allowed to — protest racial injustice during the national anthem is, without question, dragging on at an awkward time for Goodell. His contract with the NFL, which paid him more than $205 million between 2008 and 2015 (the last year that was made public), expires in 2019. A proposed five-year extension is before league officials. They’re discussing it against furious background noise and a lot of people calling for the commissioner’s head. He hasn’t managed to tamp it down.

Fans have burned jerseys and boycotted games. The media have been relentless, with Townhall.com Editor Katie Pavlich blasting Goodell as a “coward,” Breitbart News labeling him a “protester PR hack” and Fox Business anchor Lou Dobbs referring to him as “gutless Goodell.” League officials and Goodell didn’t respond to requests for comment.

The commissioner, though, isn’t beholden to pundits or the droves of angry people on Twitter, even the one who lives in the White House. The faith of team owners is all that really matters. This has long been a fact of widespread misunderstanding. As Fay Vincent, the former head of Major League Baseball, once explained to Bloomberg News, “The great myth that you have to deal with is that the commissioner is a public servant.”

With the exception of the Green Bay Packers, the NFL is a collection of private businesses, run by a small pack of billionaires. And since becoming commissioner in 2006, Goodell had made them gobs of money.

“Even people who may disagree with how some social issues are being handled, he is still their guy,” said Marc Ganis, president of the influential consulting firm Sportscorp Ltd., after members of the NFL’s compensation committee met in New York last week. Based on his conversations with them, Ganis said, Goodell’s contract extension is “pretty much done — there was no expression of wanting to go in a different direction.”

This season, the NFL will bring in some $14 billion in revenue, according to SportsBusiness Journal, an increase of more than $900 million over last season and a huge jump from the roughly $6.6 billion it made in 2006. The lavish growth has hardly sated Goodell’s ambitions to make his bosses even richer. He has said that by 2027, he’d like to see the NFL pull in $25 billion.

The commissioner has also helped the league slalom through a minefield of potentially ruinous hazards. For years, no matter what horror has arrived on the doorstep — injured brains, battered spouses, deflated footballs, softening ratings, scab referees, — Goodell has always dutifully answered the doorbell, draped in his boxy, pin-striped suit of armor, flashing his tight-lipped smile and calmly repeating a rote paean to the unwavering, greatness of the game.

Along the way, he has emerged as a favorite target for bloodthirsty fans. In that, too, he performs a valuable service, effectively drawing anger away from press-averse owners.

His skills were on display at a news conference last week where he expressed his hope that all players would stand for the anthem but reiterated the NFL wouldn’t force anybody to do so. Moving forward, he said, the league would work with players to support their social-justice goals off the field. “We’re not looking to get into politics,” Goodell said. “What we’re looking to do is to continue to get people focused on football.”

The performance did nothing to placate President Donald Trump, and left plenty of others fuming. But with the audience that matters most, it went over well. “Nobody wants the protests to continue because it has had an effect on business and it has provoked a huge emotional response from our fans,” New York Giants co-owner John Mara told reporters. “But I think all of us, or just about all of us, are in agreement that we need to continue to have this dialogue with the players.”

There’s no doubt Goodell will continue to face harsh scrutiny, along with the NFL, as long as the anthem issue grabs headlines. Protests continued during week seven of the season, including before the game Sunday between the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers. All the Cowboys remained upright, though defensive end David Irving briefly raised his fist at the end of the song, while several 49ers kneeled. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who recently vowed to bench any team member who didn’t stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner,” told reporters the league was being hurt by players taking the knee, as it’s called.

The matter “has been allowed to fester,” said Bob Zito, founder of Zito Partners, a crisis management firm. “Goodell has to be able to find the best solution to get this off the front-page, as soon as possible.” That’s important for the league, not necessarily his contract negotiations.

View online: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-10-23/nfl-s-205-million-man-is-hated-by-everyone-but-those-who-matter