Welcome to the second of my new columns here at CheeseheadTV.com. Of course, the first was From the Press Box which will be appearing all year long on Tuesday mornings and recapping the weekend’s events.
For this other new column, I have to admit I was inspired by my cohort from Footballguys.com, Matt Waldman who has been putting together some great interviews at his site, The Rookie Scouting Portfolio. Matt is a fantastic writer and interviewer and we’ll have him in this very column for sure next Draft season if not sooner.
In this column, we’ll talk to some of the media from around the league to give you a different point of view on the league and the teams in it.
Of course, I had to start off with Sam Farmer, NFL writer for the Los Angeles Times. Don’t be fooled by the lack of a team in LA—Sam is one of the best and has his ears trained everywhere. I first met Sam back in 2008 as we covered UCLA’s Pro Day (one of the few who did as a matter of fact). We next bumped into each other at USC’s Pro Day and I have to say, we hit it off. Sam is an incredibly smart, generous guy and a hell of a writer.
I can’t be more thankful I get to kick off this new piece by allowing him to drop some knowledge on you guys.
Without further ado, here’s our Ten Questions with Sam Farmer.
1) Let’s start with a subject you’re probably already exhausted by – the Los Angeles Stadium aka Sam Farmer’s Field. Everything looks good, but you and I both have seen LA projects implode before. At this point, what do you feel the chances are for this one to make it all the way to fruition?
You’re right, we’ve seen the roadside littered with failed LA proposals over the past 16 years, all of them with really cool looking renderings. This round of concepts is a little more real, however, because the NFL climate has changed. The league wants to show the players that it can “grow the pie” under this new CBA, and the quickest way to do that is to take a team that is not reaching financial expectations in its current market and moving it to the nation’s second-largest market.
2) Los Angeles has been trying – and failing – to get a team for years. In your opinion, what has been the biggest hurdle the city has stumbled over in the past and what is different about this (or really these since there are two) project?
It’s just a very complex process, particularly with no public money, and the NFL and LA have gotten increasingly comfortable with their separate lives. What’s different about the downtown project? The LA Coliseum is finally out of the race, so the city can in good faith promote an attractive option — for once. And Roski’s project in City of Industry? It’s 600 acres of clean, fully entitled land, and not a toxic dump as was the case in Carson.
3) Several teams always come to mind when it comes to relocating a team to Los Angeles— the San Diego Chargers, the Buffalo Bills, the Jacksonville Jaguars and Minnesota Vikings among them, with the ever present shadow of Al Davis’ Oakland Raiders not far behind. Which of these teams do you think is most likely and which is the biggest pipe dream and why?
Chargers are most likely, as they have met all the requirements for relocation and can’t be sued by San Diego. I think the Vikings are a pipe dream because they’re going to get their stadium done in Minnesota and the league will do everything it can to keep them there. I think that’s a classic case of the NFL using LA to get a stadium deal done elsewhere.
4) Ed Roski is out in the City of Industry and recently pointed out to your LA Times colleague, Bill Dwyre, that while the location isn’t as ideal as downtown, you can do things like tailgating there while you probably can’t at the AEG stadium. Does the Roski plan still have real life even though it seems like the downtown stadium is all but green lit?
Roski’s plan does have life, although it won’t happen as long as the league still views downtown as viable. The NFL will never drive a stake through any potential stadium competitors. Put it this way: If you have two people bidding up the price of your house, you’re not going to tell one of those bidders to get lost just because you like the other one a bit more.
5) Getting out of Los Angeles for a minute, we’ve got ten years of Labor peace and an agreement that—while not everybody’s favorite—is fair all around. One of the biggest issues I saw behind the scenes was a big market team vs small market team battle over revenue. Do you feel that this was addressed by the owners enough to avoid problems down the road?
I think that was an even bigger deal the last time around, when the league cut a hasty deal with the players in 2006. Small market teams are better positioned this time around. I would draw the line between owners who take risks and owners who don’t, as opposed to big market/small market. Regardless, it’s never going to be a perfect balance, but it’s the best of any sports league.
I did a story a couple of years ago that there are more season-ending knee injuries in August than all other months combined. The spike I’m seeing is in Achilles’ ruptures. But I think it’s too early to say this August is markedly different from other Augusts. Maybe players were better off working out on their own. Having been to 10 or so camps already, it does feel like teams are entering into things a little more gingerly than in years past. We might see some sloppiness carry over into the the first weeks of the regular season because of it.
I don’t see the Titans paying him guaranteed money for three years that puts him in the QB stratosphere. I don’t think he’ll hold out the whole season, but it wouldn’t shock me.
I’ve worn your fingers out so let’s end with three short, though maybe not simpler, questions…
8 ) The Green Bay Packers were a tremendous team last year despite losing half their team and many key players to the IR. With everyone healthy, are they in the driver’s seat for a repeat performance?
They’re definitely up there, but history shows us that it’s incredibly tough for teams — even teams that stay together — to repeat. I think the Eagles will give them a good run this season.
There’s no way Rex’s message gets old if he gets the franchise that close in consecutive years. That’s huge — and the Jets did it on the road in the playoffs. If a team keeps knocking around like that, the door’s eventually going to break down.
I think it will be an all-green Super Bowl — Jets vs. Eagles.