Jeff Moorad Wows ‘Em at 76 Capital Sports Event
PHILADELPHIA – Not to be lost from a highly informative 76 Capital Sports Innovation Conference, held November 6 at the lovely and impressive Citizens Bank Ballpark, was a keynote before the keynote.
Immediately before former NBA Commissioner David Stern wowed the crowd with his sense of humor and terrific insights into the world of sportstech and investing, Jeff Moorad, the Chairman of Morgan Lewis Global Sports, sat down for a keynote of his own with ESPN’s fantasy sports guru Matthew Berry doing the honors for the 30-minute Q&A.
Moorad is widely known for his work as a bigtime sports agent, along with Leigh Steinberg (Steinberg & Moorad – 1983 to 1999) and his years in baseball with the Arizona Diamondbacks and San Diego Padres, (2004-2011). He went on to form the Family Circle Tennis Center in Charleston, SC (along with musician Darius Rucker) and to secure PrimeSport, one of the most successful and elite ticket agencies in the world which was eventually sold to On Location in 2017.
At the Philadelphia sports conference, Moorad shared a few of his views of the sports industry as they related to the assembly of entrepreneur and pitchmen (and women) in the room, citing his philosophy on how to be successful in the increasingly difficult and high-stakes sports business world.
“Over the years, I made presentations to the likes of Troy Aikman (Dallas QB), Warren Moon (Houston QB) or maybe Pat Burrell, here in Philadelphia, and hundreds of other players and pitched the idea of getting involved with them in a business context. So, if you think about that and how it involves the pitch of start-ups, new business and theories on getting involved, whether its investing or just being involved with the company, it’s the same type of sales.
“To me, what that always required was to be able to look people in the eye and to transmit a feeling of confidence but also deference and the willingness to learn.
“Now, sports is a business that thrives on confidence as it helps the athletes perform on the field. It helps the leaders lead their clubs and perform at high levels, even on the ownership side.
“No matter, you have to be able to deliver a message in a concise way and our business is not really more involved or more complicated than that. It’s about messaging. And doing it in a way people can relate to and understand and remember.
Berry asked Moorad if he could change something from his career and get a do-over, what might it be?
“If I could do it all over again, I’d go to business school rather than law school,” he said. “I teach MBA students at UCLA business school – and I think I learn more from them than they do from me. When we sold the Padres, I was asked if I was interested in teaching.
“I said, ‘I always wanted to go to business school, so I jumped at it and I’ve been teaching for about seven years. I teach only one class a year, but I get so much out of that. Every week, I take ’em to dinner. Every week, up to 10 students and we go out – it helps me miss the heavy traffic in LA – and I get to know them better, learn more about them and ask about their career aspirations.
“We had a simple mantra, ‘You’ve got to work harder than the next guy. You have to outwork people and be better deserving of the success than the next guy. If you’re trying to crack the sports industry, you have to distinguish yourself (as he noted he was speaking to the students and not the people currently and already involved in the industry).
“Whether it’s by education or work experience or a combination of the two, you have to be able to show yourself as an over-achiever. Those are the folks I interviewed everyday when I was the CEO of the Diamondbacks or the Padres in San Diego, if somebody distinguished themselves with a couple of degrees I would interview them every time.”
How does Moorad feel he’s distinguished himself at this point of his career?
“Understanding context is probably the greatest tool I have at this stage of my career. That doesn’t mean I understand everything. I don’t. But, understanding the sports industry from the players’ side, the ownership side, the investors’ standpoint and the legal standpoint, all of those things provide context for me.
“Not only do I see much better today than when I was younger, I now see it’s a close industry, a relationship industry, but the pieces of the industry rely on each other to survive.
The more and the quicker you can understand context, the better you can transact business in this industry,” concluded Moorad.
Here Now, The Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates will name former Red Sox GM Ben Cherrington as the team’s new general manager, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Friday. The former Boston executive vice president and general manager, 45, has been the Toronto Blue Jays’ senior vice president of baseball operations for just over three years. Cherington, who replaced Theo Epstein in Boston following the 2011 season, spent four seasons in his Red Sox post before Dave Dombrowski was brought aboard as the team’s president of baseball operations. Cherington was invited to remain as GM, but he left his role with the Red Sox with a year remaining on his contract. … The 2013 Red Sox won the World Series with Cherington making the personnel moves, but the team failed to reach the playoffs in his other three seasons at the helm. Cherington orchestrated the 2012 trade that sent Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez to the Los Angeles Dodgers. He also replaced manager Bobby Valentine with John Farrell before the 2013 season, and the Red Sox went on to win the title. … The Pirates fired general manager Neal Huntington last month. They also parted ways with president Frank Coonelly in October. One of Cherington’s first major moves will be to replace manager Clint Hurdle, who was fired at the end of September. … Hall of Fame catcher Mike Piazza will manage the Italian national team in the European Baseball Championship and World Baseball Classic. … Piazza made the announcement Wednesday morning, and will coach the team in the EBC in 2020 and the 2021 WBC. … “Excited to announce I have reached an agreement to manage the Italian National Baseball team,” Piazza wrote. “This will include a European Tournament next year and the 2021 @WBCBaseball Classic.” … Piazza retired from baseball in 2008 having spent a total of 16 seasons between the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets, along with brief stays with the Oakland Athletics, the then-Florida (Miami) Marlins and San Diego Padres. He won 10 Silver Slugger awards as a catcher and was a 12-time All-Star. … Inducted in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2016, Piazza has never managed or coached.
Kaepernick Update: Quarterback Colin Kaepernick had NFL teams scrambling again Saturday when he changed the time and location of his workout and opened it up to the media without getting the league’s OK. Backed by his representatives, Kaepernick changed the time of the 3 p.m. ET workout, which was moved to Charles Drew High School in Riverdale, Ga., some 60 miles from the Atlanta Falcons’ training complex in Flowery Branch, where the session for 25 teams was originally scheduled to take place. … Apparently, the change in venue didn’t affect Kaepernick’s performance. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that an NFL executive at the session told him Kaepernick’s arm is “elite” and that he threw the ball well. Prior to the showcase, Kaepernicks’s representatives expressed that they had issues with a liability waiver the league provided the QB to sign, and wanted members of the media to be able to see the workout and also videotape it. … On behalf of Kaepernick, representatives Ben Meiselas and Jeff Nalley issued an official statement to provide reasons for their decision: … “Because of recent decisions made by the NFL, the workout for Colin Kaepernick will be changing to an alternate location in Atlanta which will now start at 4 p.m. All representatives from clubs are invited to attend and will be provided the location. Further, all media will be invited to attend and upon request will be provided with the location. From the outset, Mr. Kaepernick requested a legitimate process and from the outset the NFL league office has not provided one. Most recently, the NFL has demanded that as a precondition to the workout, Mr. Kaepernick sign an unusual liability waiver that addresses employment-related issues and rejected the standard liability waiver from physical injury proposed by Mr. Kaepernick’s representatives. Additionally, Mr. Kaepernick requested all media be allowed into the workout to observe and film it and for an independent film crew to be there to ensure transparency. The NFL denied this request. Based on the prior conduct by the NFL league office, Mr. Kaepernick simply asks for a transparent and open process which is why a new location has been selected for today. Mr. Kaepernick looks forward to seeing the representatives from the clubs today.” … Former Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson, with the help of former Miami Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin, were set to direct the original session.
The NFL on Saturday also released a statement that read in part: “We are disappointed that Colin did not appear for his workout. He informed us of that decision at 2:30 p.m. today along with the public. … Today’s session was designed to give Colin what he has consistently said he wants — an opportunity to show his football readiness and desire to return to the NFL. Twenty-five (25) clubs were present for the workout, and all 32 clubs, their head coaches, general managers, and other personnel executives would have received video footage of the interview and workout, shot by the Atlanta Falcons video crew. … We heard for the first time last night, around the same time we heard from Nike, that Colin wanted to bring his own video crew. We heard for the first time this afternoon that Colin wanted to open the event to all media.” … The lengthy statement ended with, “Colin’s decision has no effect on his status in the League. He remains an unrestricted free agent eligible to sign with any club.” … Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who began kneeling on the sideline during the national anthem to bring attention to social injustice, has not played since the 2016 season.
The GOAT: Former Boston Celtics great Bill Russell announced Friday he accepted his Hall of Fame ring 44 years after his induction. Widely considered one of the NBA’s all-time great centers, Russell did not attend his 1975 induction ceremony in Springfield, Mass., saying via Twitter that he didn’t deserve to be the first black player inducted. … “I felt others before me should have that honor,” he tweeted Friday. … One of those players was Chuck Cooper, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in September. In 1950, the former Boston Celtics forward became the first African-American player to play in the NBA. … Russell said he received the ring in a private ceremony that was attended by fellow Hall of Famers Ann Meyers, Alonzo Mourning and Bill Walton. … Russell was a five-time league Most Valuable Player and led the Celtics to 11 NBA titles — including eight consecutive — between 1956-69. He also was a two-time Olympic gold medalist and led the University of San Francisco to two NCAA championships.
Digital Sports Desk posts a once-a-week Sunday Notes column, entitled: “While We’re Young Ideas.” It’s a throwback of sorts to the days when sportswriting and the baseball beat were the best jobs in the entire sports industry, maybe the entire world. One of those sportswriters was named Dick Young and he wrote “Young Ideas” with a “Diamond Dust” section for notes and quotes. … We welcome feedback and suggestions (psst, they call ’em pitches) for mentions within “While We’re Young Ideas” or Digital Sports Desk. Please follow and encourage (at least) another person or two to plug into (@DigSportsDesk) (@WhileYoungIdeas) and (@terrylyons).