Darren Rovell

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Friday, July 5
Updated: July 8, 11:36 AM ET
 
Brady lining up deals as camp approaches

By Darren Rovell
ESPN.com

After months of mulling over a host of national and local endorsement opportunities, Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady has done a good deal of signing on the dotted line over the last month and a half.

Tom Brady
Tom Brady picks up his MVP trophy the day after leading Patriots to 20-17 win.
In May, the Patriots quarterback agreed to a deal that will put him on the cover of 989 Sports' NFL Gameday 2003 video game. Two weeks ago, Brady signed with Dunkin' Donuts and might wind up pitching a particular product in franchises in the Northeast. And after driving away from the Super Bowl in a Cadillac Escalade as a bonus for winning the MVP, Brady now will help pitch Cadillacs for New England dealers this fall.

In addition, Brady has signed radio deals with WBCN, the Patriots' flagship station, and WEEI for weekly segments. "It wasn't all about the money here," said Stephen Dubin, Brady's agent. "We only went with companies that we were comfortable with as far as what they wanted to do with Tom."

Beyond marketing deals, Brady also has earned some nice off-season change from signing autographs. He will be doing his second private signing with Tri-Star Productions on July 9, selling 8-by-10 signed photos for $149 and signed full-size Super Bowl XXXVI helmets for $599.

Nobody Night in Charleston
Mike Veeck, son of ultimate promoter Bill Veeck, never runs out of ideas. A couple weeks ago, his St. Paul Saints gave away seat cushions with a picture of baseball commissioner Bud Selig on one side and union leader Donald Fehr on the other.

Charleston RiverDogs
If Mike Veeck has his way, the Charleston RiverDogs will become known for not attracting a crowd.
So, from the department of promotions that no other executive would dare try, the Class A Charleston Riverdogs, also partly owned by Veeck, are hosting "Nobody Night" on July 8. Although the team already has sold more than 1,000 tickets to the game, it will keep every fan outside the ballpark for the first five innings, until the game is declared official.

The idea: To break the record for the fewest fans at a baseball game (12, Chicago vs. Troy for a game in Sept. 1881).

"It's so hard to get people into the park in this business, it makes you laugh when we say, 'we don't need you fans,' " Veeck said.

Vendors Ken the Beer Man and Wade the Beer Man will walk around the ballpark for the first five innings selling to nobody, said Atom Taler, the team's public relations director. While fans picnic outside the ballpark, they can listen to the radio broadcast, although the broadcasters won't technically be in the ballpark, either. They'll be set up on a makeshift platform overlooking the park, Taler said.

But the efforts might all be for naught. A representative with the research department of the National Baseball Hall of Fame said that since attendance is gauged by tickets sold, the team would not break any attendance lows.

Early box office impact
Yao Ming
The Rockets are counting on Yao Ming to help them reach Houston's Asian community.
The Houston Rockets, whose decline in season ticket sales contributed to their anemic attendance averages of 12,648 and 11,737 fans per game over the last two seasons, are expecting a significant increase this year thanks to No. 1 overall draft pick Yao Ming.

"For five years, we've worked on getting the very significant and influential Asian community to come to our games," said George Postolos, the Rockets' chief operating officer. "But it's safe to say that we've had more progress with that community in the last 30 days that we've had in five years."

Postolos said a prominent Chinese businessman recently inquired about the cost of 500 season tickets. The Rockets sold out 176 consecutive games in the mid to late '90s.

In Chicago, where the Bulls once enjoyed a stretch of 610 consecutive sellouts, the Bulls already are seeing the effects of picking Duke point guard Jay Williams at No. 2.

"It's definitely generated hundreds of phone calls that could represent thousands of tickets," said Steve Schanwald, executive vice president of business operations for the Bulls.

Pit-crew policies
In the June 29 SunTrust Challenge IRL race at Richmond, defending champion Buddy Lazier had a large pit fire. Although the clothing of some crew members caught fire, no one was burned, thanks to their protective fire suits.

However, if a team owner wants a little extra protection from such hazards, there's pit-crew insurance. For a premium of between $12,000 and $25,000 per man per year, team owners can offer their pit crews a little peace of mind.

If a crew member becomes paralyzed on the job, he would be eligible to receive a $1 million lump sum payment, said Dennis Burns, president of Pro Financial services, who offers the insurance. A loss of limb or sight would provide them a $250,000 lump sum payment.

"It's going to become a hot item, because there are more and more incidents in the pits," Burns said.

Better than the big leagues
Through July 1, the Montreal Expos were averaging 8,008 fans per home game and the Florida Marlins 10,978. Both averages are lower that of the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats, an Oakland A's affiliate, who led the minors in attendance last year. Through July 1, the River Cats are averaging 11,227 per game.

Glory days
As part of Viagra's partnership with Major League Baseball, Pfizer's impotence drug will sponsor "The Triumphant Glory Days," a series of 19 games from July 15-28 in which teams will wear old uniforms and Pfizer will offer free medical screenings.

Among the teams participating will be the Anaheim Angels (wearing their 1982 uniforms), Atlanta Braves (1974), Florida Marlins (wearing uniforms from the 1982 Miami Marlins), Oakland A's (1972), Philadelphia Phillies (1980), New York Mets (1986) and Texas Rangers (1961).

Several jersey models worn will be available on MLB.com as well as at the team stores. There will be no Viagra presence on the uniforms, said Pfizer spokesman Geoff Cook.

Darren Rovell, who covers sports business for ESPN.com, can be reached at darren.rovell@espn.com.











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