The NFL in London could work with a little compromise

This coming Sunday, the Dallas Cowboys and Jacksonville Jaguars will play the third and final game of this NFL season’s International Series at Wembley Stadium in London, England.

The series began as an experiment in 2007 by the National Football League to gauge interest of the sport in the European marketplace.

And although the second largest media market in this country – Los Angeles – is on the verge of landing not one but possibly two NFL teams as soon as maybe next season after being without a team for 20 years, the League is still hell-bent on putting a team across the pond in London by 2022.

Commissioned by the NFL and a London marketing agency, the accounting firm DeLoitte released its findings last week from their study that said an NFL franchise based in London could generate more than $255 million for Britain annually.

In British pounds, we’re talking 165 million.

Pounds. Dollars. No matter what currency you reference, that’s a whole lot of coin the 32 team owners can’t ignore.

So, what about the fans both in the States and the British Isles?

A majority of NFL fans here don’t like the idea of putting a team in London because of travel logistics and the idea that it would be similar to out-sourcing American jobs to foreign countries.

Tom Bateman, president of Bring Back the Los Angeles Rams, traveled to London in 2012 to watch the St. Louis Rams play the New England Patriots. courtesy: Tom Bateman
Tom Bateman, director of Bring Back the Los Angeles Rams, traveled to London in 2012 to watch the St. Louis Rams play the New England Patriots.
courtesy: Tom Bateman

As for the Brits, L.A. native Tom Bateman, the director of Bring Back the Los Angeles Rams, traveled to merry old England for a week in October of 2012 to watch the St. Louis Rams take on the New England Patriots.

While there, Bateman spoke with British fans he discovered enjoy American football immensely but think the idea of putting a team in London permanently is a silly one.

I agree with the Brits. If a team is moved or an expansion team is awarded to London, would the league’s name be changed to the International Football League?

“Part of the appeal to the Brits is that each (International Series) game showcases different teams” said Bateman who added, “The NFL in the UK is a spectacle as much as it is a sport. Probably more so.”

British tailgaters at the 2012 NFL International Series Game between the St. Louis Rams and New England Patriots played at Wembley Stadium in London. courtesy: Tom Bateman
British tailgaters “dressed to kilt” at the 2012 NFL International Series Game between the St. Louis Rams and New England Patriots played at Wembley Stadium in London.
courtesy: Tom Bateman

He also discovered an NFL game represents everything the British love about America.

According to Bateman the Brits love the fact that we’re a show off nation.

Really, no sport or league shows off more than the NFL.

“It’s flashy, spectacular, the uniforms, the helmets, the cheerleaders, the endzone celebrations, the sack dances, all of that.” Said Bateman continuing, “But as a sport, to the Brits it can’t hold a candle to soccer or as they refer to it, real football.”

Also on the NFL’s agenda, sooner rather than later, is reducing the pre-season schedule from four games to two while expanding the regular season from its current 16-game schedule to 18.

An 18-game schedule is something the Players’ Union isn’t too keen on for player safety and the extra two games don’t increase the players’ salaries.

What about a little compromise for all parties involved so the 32 team owners, the players and Britain’s annual economy can capitalize on the projected $255 million the NFL stands to generate should it have a permanent presence in London.

Since the Brits enjoy seeing different teams play each International Series game and the logistics of having a permanent team call London home seem a bit difficult to iron out, let’s give the Brits what they want.

America's Game - NFL Football - celebrated at Wembley Stadium in London. courtesy: Tom Bateman
America’s Game – NFL Football – celebrated at Wembley Stadium in London.
courtesy: Tom Bateman

At the same time, let’s expand the regular season from 16 to 17 regular season games with the extra game for each team played each week at Wembley Stadium in London.

So what if it’s an odd number schedule. Only thing affected is a team finishing .500 which isn’t a huge deal in the grand playoff scheme of things.

This way, only teams with winning records would qualify for the postseason.

Make the 17th game match ups interconference games – AFC vs. NFC – with the match ups chosen with ping pong ball machines much like the ones used to choose the World Cup soccer groups or the NBA Draft Lottery and do it during Super Bowl Week for games in the upcoming regular season. Cut the pre-season to just two games.

You’ve added a game while having an entire regular season schedule – 16 weeks – in London with the Brits seeing all 32 NFL teams in different match ups each game and year.

It becomes a “pseudo Super Bowl” each week in London because the logistics time wise of having the Super Bowl in London – which has been discussed – just won’t work for NFL fans in the States who want to see the biggest game and spectacle on U.S. soil and rightfully so.

After all, it is America’s Game. Somewhere all 32 teams need to always call home.

L.A. KISS coach WANTS YOU! after getting “Shocked” by Spokane, 70-21

ANAHEIM, CA – Last time I was at a professional football game in Anaheim on a Sunday afternoon was sometime in December of 1994. The last pro game the Rams played at the “Bigger A” was Christmas Eve of ’94 which was a Saturday.

The Rams lost to Washington, 24-21 then headed to St. Louis.

I was, rudely, welcomed back with another disappointing performance on the field by the home team.

The LA KISS got shocked losing to Spokane, 70-21.
The LA KISS got shocked losing to Spokane, 70-21.

On this Sunday – May 4th 2014 – just short of 20 years later, I’m sitting in the Honda Center hockey press box, not to watch the Anaheim Ducks, but the Arena Football League’s newest franchise – the LA KISS, owned by Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley of the legendary rock group, KISS – take on the Spokane Shock with 10,552 fans in the building and a National TV audience on ESPN2.

The "WOW" factor isn't on the field but above it at all LAKISS football games.
The “WOW” factor isn’t on the field but above it at all LAKISS football games.

How can you not like an indoor football game with go-go dancers in cages high atop each back corner of both end zones?

I’ll tell you how. When the home team – the KISS – embarrasses itself with a 70-21 drubbing at the hands of the Spokane Shock.

The beating was so bad that during his post game press conference KISS head coach Bob McMillen asked for tapes and resumes from anyone who could play football. I was there to catch it of course so take a look at my video report at the end of this article.

Before the KISS could get anything going and thanks to two turnovers – one an interception by QB J.J. Raterink, who had three in the game, and then a muffed kickoff off the end zone crossbar A.J. Cruz couldn’t recover – they found themselves down 28-0 early in the second quarter.

Spokane QB Erik Meyer threw for two scores completing 10 of 17 passes for 89 yards and ran for two more before being sacked by L.A. LB Beau Bell on his throwing shoulder sending him to the bench for good with an unspecified collarbone injury.

The KISS threatened to make a game of it scoring twice in the last three minutes of the first half. J.J Raterink (9 of 30, 101 yards 2 TD’s, 3 INT’s, 2 sacks) found Samie Parker for a four-yard touchdown making the score 28-7.

More than 10,000 fans saw the LA KISS lose, 70-21.
More than 10,000 fans saw the LA KISS lose, 70-21.

On the Shock’s ensuing drive that stalled, kicker Taylor Rowan missed a 33-yard field goal attempt that was taken off the end zone cage by Cruz and returned 50-yards for another KISS score cutting the lead in half, 28-14. Looked as if it was going to be a party all night long, and it was………for the Shock.

Taking over the QB duties for the Shock was wide receiver – yes, I said wide receiver – Rashaad Carter who looked like he was meant to play quarterback. He completed 4 of 7 passes for 73 yards and two touchdowns both coming in the last 31 seconds of the second quarter.

The first on a 45 yard bomb to Brandon Thompkins who finished with seven catches for 89yards. Then Adron Tennell got into the act after one of the KISS turnovers – L.A. had five in the game – catching one of his three TD scores from 13 yards out.

That made the halftime score, 42-14 and all the crowd had to look forward to – aside from the go-go dancers in their cages at each far corner of both end zones – was the concert by Flashback Heart Attack appropriately covering Flock of Seagulls “I Ran (So Far Away).”

Did I mention the KISS Go-Go Dancers above each far corner of both end zones?
Did I mention the KISS Go-Go Dancers above each far corner of both end zones?

The KISS opened the second half with a 15 yard score from Raterink to Donovan Morgan making the score 42-21. The wouldn’t get any closer as turnovers inside L.A.’s own one yard line helped Spokane score the next four unanswered touchdowns.

The KISS fall to 2-5 on the season losing their third straight. They head to Cleveland on Saturday to take on the Gladiators who started L.A. on its losing streak with a 40-20 win last month at Honda Center.

Rams owner “Silent Stan” Kroenke finally raises his voice

Rams owner Stan Kroenke purchased 60 acres of land between the Fabulous forum and Hollywood Park. Thanx: AP
Rams owner Stan Kroenke purchased 60 acres of land between the Fabulous forum and Hollywood Park.
Thanx: AP

According to unnamed sources, St. Louis Rams owner Stanley Enos Kroenke – the native of St. Louis named after Cardinals baseball legends Stan “the Man” Musial and Enos Slaughter – has purchased 60 acres of land in Inglewood sitting between the Fabulous Forum and Hollywood Park.

Just enough land to build a top tier football stadium.

Also known as “Silent Stan” for staying out of the media spotlight and rarely speaking publicly when it comes to his business ventures and pro sports franchises, it seems “Silent Stan” opened his office window and, like the TV news anchor in the 1976 movie NETWORK,  yelled to St. Louis,

“I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”

As I wrote in an article earlier this week, St. Louis’ sports media and fans have to be worried about the Los Angeles Rams.

The St. Louis media and football fans said L.A. wasn’t a factor going all-in on the outright lie that L.A. was a failure when it came to supporting an NFL team when in actuality L.A. supported the Rams 49 years prior to their move to the Midwest.

The St. Louis media said it was “in the know” about behind-the-scenes negotiations between the Rams and St. Louis for a new stadium.

Stan Kroenke wants a top tier stadium for his Rams. Thanx: L.A. Times
Stan Kroenke wants a top tier stadium for his Rams.
Thanx: L.A. Times

They said “Silent Stan” would build his own stadium in St. Louis.

It seems they were half right. He might build his own stadium.

In Los Angeles. Not St. Louis.

The Rams – and Raiders – move out of Los Angeles was all about stadium issues. Specifically, the lack of modern NFL ready facilities in the greater Los Angeles/Orange County areas.

If you’re still not convinced L.A. supported an NFL team, listen to ex-Los Angeles Rams stars Jack Youngblood and Bob Klein in interviews I did with each about two years ago.

Adding Hollywood Park to the shovel-ready Farmers Field site in Downtown L.A., it appears the Rams moving back to Los Angeles is seriously in play.

If St. Louis wasn’t worried about the Los Angeles Rams before, you can bet they are now.

This purchase gives Stanley Enos Kroenke amazing tourque with much leverage in his pursuit of a top tier stadium for his Rams in St. Louis or anywhere.

Ex-Rams GM John Shaw negotiated the "sweetheart lease" that moved the Rams to St Louis in 1995. Thanx: AP
Ex-Rams GM John Shaw negotiated the “sweetheart lease” that moved the Rams to St Louis in 1995.
Thanx: AP

That “sweetheart lease” negotiated by then Los Angeles Rams GM John Shaw moving the team to St. Louis for the 1995 season has stipulations in it calling for the Edward Jones Dome – formerly known as the Trans World Dome – to be in the top 25% of all NFL stadiums 10 and 20 years into the lease, or the Rams are free to go year-to-year in the Gateway City or move on to greener pastures.

Vilified by Rams fans in Los Angeles and Orange County for orchestrating the move of THEIR team to St. Louis in the mid-90s, it seems John Shaw could end up being a hero for negotiating that “sweetheart lease.”

It’s still too early to really tell what “Silent Stan” will do.

By now you know the story.

Arbiters ruled the Rams’ request for $700 million in upgrades to the EJD were approved while St. Louis’ plan for a $120 million upgrade isn’t an upgrade at all.

The Edward Jones Dome needs a $700 million face-lift St. Louis can't afford. Thanx: AP
The Edward Jones Dome needs a $700 million face-lift St. Louis can’t afford.
Thanx: AP

St. Louis can’t afford $700 million for a football stadium.

So, now we wait until the end of the upcoming season. That’s when that top-tier stipulation hits year 20 making the Rams free agents to play where they want.

What we do know is “Silent Stan’s” purchase of 60 acres of land at Hollywood Park has St. Louis hearing him loud and clear.

It seems the Los Angeles Rams 20-year road trip might be coming to an end.

Hope you’re still enjoying that “sweetheart lease,” St. Louis!

No Disrespect. L.A. is the pLAce for the NFL

Downtown Los Angeles skyline at dusk.

Let me immediately debunk a serious cliché, untruth and down-right lie in regards to WE Angelenos.

It states, “WE WON’T SUPPORT and NEVER HAVE SUPPORTED an NFL team in Los Angeles because there are just too many other things to do here on a Sunday afternoon.”

Well, the part about plenty of things to do on a Sunday afternoon is spot-on. But, that’s what makes the City of Angels one of the greatest cities in the world.

The part about WE WON’T SUPPORT and NEVER HAVE SUPPORTED an NFL team is the biggest bunch of absolute garbage I’ve ever heard or read.

This clichéd rhetoric is old, tired, ignorant and completely false.

It’s a complete insult to all of US Angelenos.

Seriously!

Looking at L.A. from atop the Hollywood Sign.

Los Angeles, the second largest market in the country, home to Hollywood, a pair of MLB teams (Dodgers & Angels), a pair of NBA teams (Lakers & Clippers…and maybe the Anaheim Royals soon.), a pair of NHL teams (Kings & Ducks) a pair of major division one universities (USC & UCLA) and a pair of  MLS teams (Galaxy & Chivas USA) isn’t called the entertainment capital of the world for nothing. And although a sport, football, which includes the NFL variety, is one of the greatest forms of entertainment known to man, woman and child.

All I have to do is cite the Los Angeles Rams, the gold-standard among many pro football teams that have called L.A. home, as my example of WE Angelenos SUPPORTING an NFL team.

The L.A. Coliseum opened on May 1st 1923.

Beginning in 1946, after their move from Cleveland because they couldn’t compete with the Browns, the Los Angeles Rams called Southern California home for 49 years. The first 34 at the 100,000 seat L.A. Memorial Coliseum and the last 15 at Anaheim Stadium before moving to the Midwest in 1995.

49 YEARS!

Had the Rams not been supported by WE Angelenos throughout that half-century, you figure they would have left after year five.

The Rams called the Coliseum home from 1946 to '79.

During a 13 year period in the modern Super Bowl era from 1967 to 1979, the Rams won nine division titles, seven of those in consecutive seasons, played in seven conference championship games and one Super Bowl all the while attracting crowds at the Coliseum in excess of 65,000 to over 70,000 every Sunday afternoon.

In my interview with Hall-of-Fame defensive end Jack Youngblood and tight end Bob Klein, stars for the Rams during those years, both told me they fed off the energy of those Coliseum crowds. Fans that are still devoted to them today.

The Rams averaged just under 60,000 fans per regular season game in the 34 years they played at the Coliseum including three of the top-ten all-time league attendance single-game records exceeding 100,000 fans in the stands.

Rams called Anaheim Stadium home from 1980-'94.

The  first 12 seasons in Anaheim, they averaged about 57,000 fans. The years 1992-94 saw a significant drop-off due to rumors of a potential move first to Baltimore and, later, St. Louis. The Rams averaged about 45,000 fans those final three seasons.

Most team owners in any professional sport relocate because they can’t get the city they call home to ante up, via public funding, for a brand new arena with all the modern amenities to maximize revenue for them and their team.

Ex-Rams owner Carroll Rosenbloom with a model of the Football-enclosed Anaheim Stadium.

Former L.A. Rams owner Carroll Rosenbloom left L.A. for Anaheim in ’79 because the Coliseum Commission and L.A. politicians wouldn’t fork over taxpayer dollars to upgrade the Coliseum. Anaheim DID enclosing the Big “A” without its then-primary tenant, the California Angels, reaping any benefits whatsoever, so it could gain elite status as a city that an NFL team called home.

That changed in the early 90s when Georgia Frontiere wanted upgrades to the Big A via public funding. Anaheim said not this time. Off the Rams went to St. Louis.

St. Louis city officials and the state of Missouri gave the Rams everything they wanted and more including a new stadium in 1995 to return the Gateway City to elite NFL status after the Cardinals bolted a few years earlier for Arizona.

The 17 year old Edward Jones Dome is already obsolete by NFL standards.

The tables have now turned for the Gateway City. The Edwards Jones Dome needs upgrades the Rams negotiated in their original contract. St. Louis wants the Rams to pay more than half with taxpayers footing the rest of the bill.

Currently the Rams, Minnesota Vikings, Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers, Jacksonville Jaguars and Buffalo Bills are the NFL franchises looking to upgrade their stadium situations and join the 21st Century NFL.

It’s why Al Davis moved the Raiders to L.A. from Oakland in 1982 and then back to Oakland in ‘95. ‘84 when Bob Irsay moved the Colts from Baltimore for Indianapolis. ‘87 when Bill Bidwell moved the Cardinals from St. Louis to Phoenix. ’95 when Frontiere moved the Rams to St. Louis from Anaheim. ‘96 when Art Modell moved the Browns from Cleveland to Baltimore. ’97 when Bud Adams moved the Oilers to Tennessee from Houston.

These owners didn’t pack up their teams and leave their former cities because of the lack of fan support. It always has been and will be about stadium upgrade issues.

PERIOD.

San Diego's Qualcomm Stadium is one of the 3 most outdated stadiums in the NFL.

Not coincidentally, the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders are on the possible relocation list because they play in two of the three most outdated stadiums in the NFL. The San Francisco 49ers were on the list playing in the third.

The 49ers new stadium in Santa Clara is scheduled to open in 2014.

The 49ers will be playing in a brand new $1.2 billion facility within the next couple of years in Santa Clara. A building privately funded with the 49ers borrowing $400 million. The Santa Clara Stadium Authority borrowing $450 million. $150 million from the league’s stadium fund. $40 million from the Santa Clara City Redevelopment Agency with the final $35 million coming from a hotel tax paid by tourists and visitors to the city.

I bring these three teams up because, if you include the L.A. Coliseum and Pasadena Rose Bowl, California has the five most archaic “NFL-ready” stadiums. Anaheim Stadium’s out of play because it’s now a baseball-only stadium if you don’t count a high school gridiron clash or two.

California’s citizens and its government entities won’t consider stadium plans of any sort to be publicly-funded using taxpayer dollars. Especially in these tough economic times. We’re absolutely right not to.

That’s why the state is home to the five most archaic “NFL-ready” stadiums in the country.

This is the ONLY reason why Los Angeles hasn’t been a part of the NFL for 17 seasons and counting.

AEG is targeting a 2017 grand opening of Farmers Field in Los Angeles.

This “extended road-trip” Los Angeles has endured could be coming to an end soon with not just one, but possibly two teams, from the list relocating here.

"Tailgating L.A. Style." An artist's rendition of Chick Hearn Court on Game-Day Sunday. Nokia Theatre and restaurants on the right. Staples Center in the left foreground. Farmers Field in left background.

The Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) privately funded the Downtown Los Angeles Corridor Revitalization building the Staple Center and L.A. Live, and now is committed to privately fund, without taxpayer/public dollars, the entire construction of the $1.4 billion L.A. Convention Center and Farmers Field.

AEG’s already invested over $40 million, $27 million of those for an environmental impact report and the balance going to designs for the new convention center and football stadium.

Upon releasing the 10,000 page EIR earlier this month on the steps of L.A.‘s City Hall, point-man Tim Leiweke addressed AEG’s vision for the return of the NFL to the City of Angels.

A team could be calling L.A. home in September of 2013 playing its home games at the Coliseum until Farmers Field is completed by 2017.

As for which team it will be. Take a look at the aforementioned list. The Rams (if any team should call L.A. home, it should be the Rams.) and the Vikings are the top two candidates for various reasons. Who will it be?

It’s going to happen. L.A. will be back in the NFL and the NFL will be back in Los Angeles. From any angle, it’s quite overdue.

Yes. There are plenty of things to do on a Sunday afternoon in the City of Angels, one of the greatest cities in the world, and the NFL should and will be one of them.

Photo courtesy: Eric Geller, AEG, Farmers Field, Los Angeles Times, stadiumsofprofootball.com, USA Today.

Video courtesy: Eric Geller, NFL Films

Penn State’s Tragedy A Product of an Old Boy Mentality.

Joe Paterno

Don’t be sad for former Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno. A bit strange to say and type “former Penn State head football coach” when referring to JoePa.

He’s lived a charmed life in the entertainment field that is sports in one place for six decades.

Paterno patrolled the Penn State football sidelines, first as an assistant coach and 46 years as head coach, since 1950, when he was just 23 years old until his dismissal this past Wednesday night at the age of 84.

61 years.

What a tremendous run considering coaches get hired and fired in the college and pro ranks like it’s going out of style.

By now you know Paterno’s story. Worth revisiting.

After serving in the Army the final year of World War II, he went to Brown University on an athletic scholarship where he played quarterback for head coach Charles “Rip” Engle. He was to go to law school after graduation in 1950 but instead accepted an assistant coaching position at Penn State when Engle became the head coach of the Nittany Lions.

After 16 seasons, Engle retired and Paterno succeeded him.

Coaching football at Penn State is the ONLY career job Paterno’s ever known. It was HIS REALITY.

Courtesy: Sports Illustrated

Paterno’s job description always was to win football games and make Penn State athletics relevant thus making the university globally renowned from a little place called “Happy Valley.”

In 46 years as the Nittany Lions head coach, Paterno holds the record for most wins in division one college football with 409. He’s tied for the most games coached with Amos Alonzo Stagg (548). Paterno’s coached in a record 37 bowl games winning a record 24 of them, two of those being national championships.

Based on those numbers alone. Mission accomplished. Job well done.

Paterno’s life is Penn State football.

Paterno’s paychecks have been issued by the Penn State Board of Trustees for six decades.

He’s from a generation that didn’t have to worry about labor compliance legal notices posted by employees for employers regarding things like sexual harassment or violence towards others in the workplace.

This is significant.

Albeit a few years younger than Paterno, I have a very close friend who’s from that generation.

My friend was in the competitive field of  radio sales selling advertising time beginning in the late 60s. He’s told me that it wasn’t uncommon for sales reps almost coming to blows with threats of violence back in the day because one was traversing into another’s “territory.”

Threats of violence are an obvious grounds for termination of both parties, in this day and age, with labor compliance notices posted everywhere in the workplace but swept under the rug back then where no labor compliance notices posted. Things were “worked out” between the two parties by going to a superior usually without involving law enforcement.

It also wasn’t uncommon back then for “casual flirting or sexual advances” in the workplace to occur, wanted or unwanted (see a Mad Men or Pan Am episode), between parties. Another obvious grounds for termination, in this day and age, with labor compliance notices posted everywhere in the workplace but swept under the rug back then where no labor compliance notices were posted.  Things were “worked out” between the parties by going to a superior usually without involving law enforcement.

After leaving the field in the late 90s, my friend was back in the radio sales business about 10 years later. Something occurred between him and another younger sales rep where threats were exchanged initiated by my friend who felt his territory was violated by the younger rep.

Mind you, Department of Labor Laws of Compliance notices were posted everywhere in that workplace. The younger rep went to the sales supervisor alerting him of threats made by my “old school” friend. My friend was immediately terminated.

After telling me this story, I asked my friend if he would consider going back into that field. His reply, “Nah. I’m from a different generation. Today, you innocently smile at someone the wrong way and you get canned.”

Brings me to this.

All the Penn State principles in this tragedy are a product of that “old school” generation where indiscretions were kept hush-hush, in the house amongst each other, swept under the rug.

Covered up.

Jerry Sandusky

Taking a look at the 23 page grand jury report detailing the absolutely disgusting and unimaginable alleged acts done to young boys by former Penn State assistant Jerry Sandusky, that “old school” mindset is obvious.

Why? Here’s why. All the parties who could’ve stopped what was going on lived in a “fantasy world” where football ruled over anything that’s morally and ethically right because that is a world where everyone in a small, irrelevant  town without Penn State football, prospered financially.

A bit like organized crime.

All parties sold their souls in the best interest of  “The Family” a.k.a. Penn State Football. Nothing was done in the best interest of all those young kids whose innocence was stolen and lives ruined forever.

Mike McQueary

Had Paterno, assistant Mike McQueary, who allegedly witnessed Sandusky raping a 10 year old boy in the athletic department showers in 2002 and did nothing to stop it, McQueary’s father, athletic director Tim Curley, former Penn State president Graham Spanier, a victim’s mother, the campus police and so on and so forth IMMEDIATELY told the proper authorities of Sandusky’s deplorable acts, so many young lives would‘ve been spared indignities forced upon them by Sandusky.

Because they didn’t, all became accomplices in the alleged crimes because they did nothing except protect their personal interests.

Their jobs.

In Paterno’s case, the only job he’s ever known.

So, instead of turning in Sandusky nine years ago the “old school guys” Spanier, Curley and Paterno did what they know best.  Keep the ugly incident hush-hush, in the house amongst each other, swept under the rug.

Covered up.

Graham Spanier & Joe Paterno

Why ruin the shine in their “Football Camelot.”

Paterno’s “old school way of doing things” worked fine in his football world. In the real world, sadly, it‘s rendered his football records extremely tarnished.

Quite honestly, Paterno, and the rest of his Penn State “old boy network,” should’ve been gone a long time ago.

Photo courtesy: AP, LIFE, Sports Illustrated

NFL Lockout Nears End. Where’s Los Angeles in a New 10 Year CBA?

Thursday NFL owners approved, by a vote of 31-0 with the Oakland Raiders abstaining, a tentative 10-year labor agreement with the NFL Players Association, leaving the possible end to the league’s lockout in the hands of the players, who vote on the proposed 10 year CBA Friday.

A players approval means football is back with only the Hall of Fame Game between the St. Louis Rams and Chicago Bears falling victim to the four-month, or so, long lockout.

Where does Los Angeles, locked out by the NFL for some 17 years since both the Rams and Raiders left after the 1994 season, fit in this proposed 10 year collective bargaining agreement?  Last week, ESPN‘s Chris Mortensen reported there is a provision in the new proposed deal that puts L.A. back in the NFL mix:

Under the proposed 10-year CBA, players would get a split ranging from 48 to 46.5 percent of a simplified all-revenue model, the sources said. The lower 46.5 percentage would represent an increase in total dollars as revenues grow from new television contracts, as well as allowing credits if three new stadiums are constructed, including one in Los Angeles, where the NFL has not had a team since the 1994 season.

Your's truly with the RAIDERETTES at NFL 101

The City of Angels, in its attempt to stay relevant in the pro football discussion, held its 9th Annual NFL 101 ALL-ACCESS event at the Los Angeles Memeorial Coliseum this past Monday.  Among the NFL “BigWigs” speaking at the event, hosted by the L.A. Sports & Entertainment Commission, were Oakland Raiders CEO Amy Trask and San Francisco 49ers President & CEO Jed York. Both agreed they are looking strongly at the possibility that their respective teams could share a $1 billion stadium in Santa Clara which York said could be ready by 2015:

We’ve put our teams together. It doesn’t mean we’re going to find the right deal that fits for both teams, but we’re certainly going to get a look at those options.

Trask said the Raiders really like the idea of the stadium partnership adding:

We have said repeatedly that we have an open mind with respect to our stadium solution.  An open mind means an open mind as to sharing a facility with the 49ers. I say to Jed regularly that we should have not only an open mind to the sharing of the facility, but to the location of the facility which we might share.

Proposed FARMERS FIELD Downtown Los Angeles

This topic being a huge one at the event because of two proposed L.A. stadiums, one in the City of Industry by Majestic Realty and the other in Down Town L.A. called Farmers Field by AEG, in the hopes of attracting a pair of NFL teams to relocate with “LAX-ers” the Rams and San Diego Chargers rumored to be top candidates to return to L.A.

Emceeing the NFL 101 Event was  Emmy winning NFL on NBC and HBO Sports Correspondent Andrea Kremer. With the lockout nearing its end, I asked Kremer where Los Angeles fits in the new deal. (I should mention, please excuse the camera angle. When you’re “one-man banding” and your subject decides to, unknowingly, move a bit out of frame adjusting while holding a conversation becomes a 50-50 proposition.):

Interestingly enough, Thursday, AEG President Tim Leiweke said his company is ready to buyout an existing teams current stadium lease to get them to relocate to the City of Angels. AEG is prepared to own at least 50% of that team if it helps the current owner in the buyout of the existing stadium lease.  Again, the Chargers and the Rams are in situations with their current stadiums leases which fit such a scenario.

Expect something to happen soon because the 50th Super Bowl is five years away. The first Super Bowl was played at the L.A. Coliseum. Indianapolis Colts Owner Jim Irsay is pushing for the Golden Anniversary Game, Super Bowl “L”, to be played in L.A.

Los Angeles…..your 17 year NFL Lockout is coming to end.

Lakers Take Epic Game 7, Seize 16th Championship…Here go the Dominoes.

Make room for "#16"

It’s been a week since the Lakers beat the Celtics in an epic game 7 to capture franchise title number 16, just one behind Boston’s all-time 17 NBA championships. Back to that in a few paragraphs.

And with Lakers head coach Phil Jackson leaning towards retirement because of health issues, the rest of the league is getting ready for next season with today’s draft that’ll, most likely, see Kentucky point guard John Wall chosen first with the top overall pick by the Washington Wizards.

The Zen Master at work.

Funny how the Zen Master is THE DOMINO. When he falls, so will free agents, including LeBron James.

Here’s why. Jackson’s health could prevent him from returning to the Lakers Bench next season and end any talks of a fourth, three-peat. Waiting in the wings is former Lakers guard Byron Scott.

Scott won three championships with the “Showtime Lakers” in the 1980s and covets the Lakers coaching job. He’ll always be “family” when it comes to the Lakers and his good friends Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Dr. Jerry Buss. Scott guided the New Jersey Nets to two straight NBA finals. He’s won Coach of the Year honors with the Nets and New Orleans Hornets.

Scott’s one of the hottest coaching commodities with prime jobs like the Cleveland Cavaliers bench spot open. With Michigan St. coach Tom Izzo deciding to decline the Cavs offer, Scott’s the prime target in Cleveland. The job’s his if he wants it. He’s decided to wait to see what Jackson decides next week. If the Lakers job is available, Scott will want it. That’s assuming one of Jackson’s current assistants, namely former Lakers guard Brian Shaw, isn’t promoted to the top spot.

Mega-free agent LeBron James could be persuaded to remain with the Cavaliers if they hire Byron Scott. LeBron likes the fact Scott’s been a part of seven NBA finals either as a player or coach. Scott commands respect among players for the simple fact he IS one.

So, it’s up to Jackson. If he comes back for the fourth, three-peat, Scott’s headed to Cleveland with the good possibility LeBron stays. Jackson retires, Scott’s on the Lakers bench with Cleveland back at square one and LeBron entertaining offers from the Chicago Bulls, New York Knicks, New Jersey and the L.A. Clippers.

…………and there go those dominoes……………

"Black Mamba" Striking

So, with all this on the NBA horizon, gives me a good moment to reflect on last week’s championship game between the NBA’s two most storied franchises.

That was, truly, the best pro basketball game I’ve seen in some time. If nothing else but for the simple fact that it was a game 7 showdown between the Boston Celtics and the, now, two-time defending World Champion Los Angeles Lakers.

It helped they have that finals history going against each other for all the marbles for the 12th time and extending to a game 7 in five of those with the Celtics taking the first four prior to last Thursday’s break-through for the repeat championship by the Lakers at Staples Center, 83-79.

As good as the game was between the two Finals rivals, there’s still no way the series should’ve gone the distance. The Lakers, clearly, were the better team even without 7-foot center Andrew Bynum at full strength. Should’ve been done in five.

Speaking of game five, and backing up my point, the Celtics held the Lakers to 39% shooting for the game while themselves filling it up at a 56% clip, yet were fortunate to come away with a 92-86 win. Same deal in game four.

Down 3-2 and facing elimination, the Lakers just smeared the Celtics in game six at Staples, 89-67. Huge turning point. Celtics lost center Kendrick Perkins to torn knee ligaments early in the first quarter with game 7 looming.

So, that set up the deciding game with Perkins missing from the Celtics line-up and Bynum really ineffective at this point although he did average nine points and seven boards in the series. Pretty good for a guy playing with a knee tear. By the way,  for all you Celtic fans who claim an 18th title didn’t happen because Perkins went down, it can be argued had Bynum been 100%, the Lakers might’ve swept the Celtics.

This series was all about the defense and you’ve got to give it up to both Celtics coach Doc Rivers and Jackson for making the proper adjustments to go for the championship. Game 7 looked more like an NCAA elite eight battle with both teams playing text-book defense. Couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

For three quarters, the Celtics, with that “nothing to lose so let’s go for it” attitude, looked as if they were going to script another disastrous game 7 ending for the Lakers at home against Boston.

The Big 4 of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen , Rajon Rondo and company, were playing championship defense triple-teaming Kobe Bryant and holding the Lakers to 29% shooting from the field in the first half alone.

Problem for the Celtics, the Lakers dominated the boards. Bryant himself had 15. So, although they couldn’t score, the Lakers got plenty of second-chance opportunities they converted keeping them in the game.

"Boom Boom.....PAU!"

After opening a 13-point third quarter lead, the Celtics looked golden. But the old guys ran out of gas and the Lakers took over. While they made their run to take the lead spear-headed by Pau Gasol, the “help, or weak side defense” looked like Duke’s trying to stave off Butler for the championship.

If you’re a Boston fan, you hated it, which is understandable. If you’re  Lakers fan you, obviously, loved it. If you’re a basketball junkie, you had to have been impressed by it for the simple fact they usually don’t play like that in an NBA game.

Plenty were complaining because of the lack of offense in the game. That’s what happens when both teams play good defense adjusting on the fly and one team dominates the glass. Remember what coaching icon Pat Riley likes to say.

No Rebounds. No Rings.

Either way, it was like watching a nail-biter of a Super Bowl. Congratulations to both the Lakers and Celtics for playing a game 7 for the ages.

The Clip Joint

Along with NFL Training Camp hold-outs, here’s another rite of Summer, the Clippers are on the clock!

Who is Al-Farouq Aminu?  Well, “The Chief  Has Arrived”.  That’s what Al-Farouq means.   And, apparently, he IS “The King”.  He descends from a line of Nigerian Kings.  Take that, LeBron!

Yeah. But can THIS King go left?

Lakers-Celtics, Chapter 12 Act 1.

What a fabulous time for basketball in the City of Angels……Los Angeles and Boston. Led by Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Phil Jackson the defending world champion Lakers are in the thick of their third straight NBA Finals and facing them, their arch rivals, KG, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and the Boston Celtics. INCREDIBLE!

63 champions in the history of “the Association” and these two teams have combined to win 32 of them. Boston has won 17 titles in 21 tries while the L.A./Minneapolis Lakers have earned 15 championships in a staggering 30 tries.

Think about it. The Lakers have represented the West in almost half of the finals while the Celtics have represented the East in a third of them. INCREDIBLE!

This is the 12th time these franchises have clashed head-to-head for the title with the Celtics winning a lop-sided nine of the first eleven including the one two seasons ago.

Lakers came out with purpose in game one of the 12th installment, their 31st finals appearance, at Staples Center in Los Angeles Thursday night beating the Celtics, 102-89.

The Lakers had everything going especially on the defensive end looking like the Celtics usually do……………STRAIGHT UP, PHYSICAL!

Meanwhile, the Celtics looked old, beat up and just plain tired.

The Lakers out-rebounded the Celtics, 42-31. The Lakers limited the Celtics to one for 10 from the three-point line and took the all-important “second chance points” category, 16-0. Quite uncharacteristic of the Celtics.

Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant led everyone with 30 points. Pau Gasol had 23 points to go along with 14 rebounds. Finals “rookie” Ron Artest had 15 points but gave Celtics forward Paul Pierce fits on the defensive end. Pierce did have 24 points but those were mostly in garbage time. Same goes for Kevin Garnett. He had 16 for Boston but looked like his knees were smarting and was completely out-played by Gasol.

OK. Remember, it’s just game one. In four other meetings between the two teams in the finals, the Lakers have taken the first game only to see the Celtics come back to win three of their 17 championships.

You can bet the Celtics will play more like themselves come game two Sunday back at Staples. They’re champions and Celtic Pride is quite a force when summoned.

Expect game two to be much closer and much more physical on both ends. Expect the Lakers to get a hard-fought win and a two-zero series lead going into Boston for the middle three games of the series next week. ENJOY!

“Bloop Singles”

  • God bless “The Wizard of Westwood“, 99-year old John R. Wooden.
  • The former UCLA Basktball Coach who led the Bruins to 10 NCAA Championships lies in grave condition. Talk about a man who lived by “carpe diem“.
  • Considering freshmen couldn’t play when Wooden coached and he practically had to change his roster every three years, Wooden is the greatest coach in team sports history.
  • Wooden’s “Pyramid of Success” is a blue print for, not only sports, but life in general.
  • As a sports fan who was raised in Los Angeles loving the Los Angeles Rams, Lakers, Kings and Dodgers, is it wrong that my favorite baseball player is New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter? As a fan mind you, I CAN’T STAND THE YANKEES!
  • LeBron may be known as “King James.” But Kobe Bryant’s “The Lord of the Rings.”
  • “King James” might be the reigning two-time NBA MVP, “Kid Kobe” is STILL the best basketball player on the planet.

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