... All the blather about the Ideal Gas Law, and moving things from "Point A to B", has gotten out of hand in this 2015 NFL off season. That's why I'm introducing you to that little character at the start of this paragraph. You see, , represents not just a lower case an Greek "y", or Gamma, it also has a meaning I'd love the NFL owners and leadership to get to know... Surface tension, depicted by "", is building among NFL fans, and the powers that be at the top of the league office are taking it for granted.
NFL fans are being stressed in ways never before seen. They live through player off-field issues, on-field issues, and issues on fields that haven't even been built yet. Domestic violence, drug use, cheating, monster team owner egos... The list is ever growing, and it's an inferno building below the surface. Fanned by the media when they don't have anything else to write about - which I find absolutely dumbfounding - reporters for the NFL appear to be leaning toward the paparazzi dark side. They present the same thing over and over again like it's somehow still vital news we as fans "must" want to read and see... Really? REALLY!
I absolutely hate this situation-ally created term, hyphen and all. Like its "spy-gate" and "bounty-gate" brethren, social media loves this kind of thing. Slap a "#" in front of it, and away we go!
My take on the whole thing is simply this: New England is guilt of having a couple of equipment guys going a tad too far keeping Tom Brady happy. Quarterbacks have been titchy about the footballs they use since the dawn of this game we all love. Admit it! Recall a time when you were younger, playing football with childhood friends in the street or in a park. If you brought a football, and a couple others brought them too, wasn't there a time when you decided which one you liked best if you were going to play quarterback? Sometimes you picked the newest one, while other times you used your own, scuff up ball because it fit your hand just so...
The point where things got icky for Brady and his fawning equipment cronies is when they hissed just a tad too much air out. Oops! In fact, if Brady and his "deflat-ors" are guilt of anything, it's the hubris needed to think no one would notice... They've done things like this before, and gotten caught. So what really should have people wondering is why they think they're good at being sneaky at all? They're like the guy who keeps getting arrested after each time he tries to steal something?
"Point A to B"
Back when the NFL started, teams moved around the country at will, and no one really cared all that much. As the game grew in popularity, fans began to embrace their teams with a personal passion. Teams began to be ingrained in the fabric of cities, representing an identity that's hard to define, much less place a value on. As the value of an NFL franchise grew, the entrance of financial heavy weights as team owners began to take over the landscape.
"Billionaires" like money more than guys like George Halas, Art Rooney, or Carroll Rosenbloom. Bottom line tied, they feign love of the game only to the extent that it serves their purposes. They became so arrogant, that owners demanded the public - not only buy tickets for the games - but fund the stadiums they play in, and even buy "personal seat licenses" for the right to buy that seat to watch the team fans love. But if a better financial gig offered itself, owners showed just how much they truly value fans. In truth, they really don't give a tinkers damn about fans in ANY city. There's always more somewhere else, right?
The potential return of the NFL to the Los Angeles market has always been out there. That its taken 20 years to do so is somewhat odd? The why of it, is the value of the market to the 32 NFL owners. They're like the landlord who lets a building sit because no one will pay the rent price he wants. As time passes, the building gets run down, and the location turns to seed... L.A. fits this mold for the billionaire owners in the NFL. Money to burn, they've waited for someone to be willing to pay their "re-location" price tag. The #2 market in the nation, the potential valuation of a team moving there has hit the viability tipping point.
I've been saying for a long time time - and its fallen on deaf ears for the most part - that the team moving to Los Angeles which makes the most sense is the San Diego Chargers. Jack Murphy Stadium is a hell hole. It makes the old Candlestick Park look like football nirvana. "The Murph" is a horrible place to watch a game. Out of all the teams who could wind up being in L.A. very soon, mark the Chargers down as a solid LOCK.
The Oakland Raiders are the team no one really wants, but they'll take it. But the NFL really doesn't want a Mark Davis run team in the uber-expensive Los Angeles market. Echoes of what happened to Major League Baseball's L.A. Dodgers - one of the most storied and popular baseball teams EVER - can't be far from the NFL's collective minds. The southern California market is one best played in by billionaires, and Davis isn't even in their ballpark. If an NFL franchise fails financially in the L.A. market, it would send shock waves throughout the league in terms of team values.
The looming problem for the Raiders in L.A. is "product quality", and in truth, the same can be said for the St. Louis Rams - we'll get to them in a minute or so. Trend driven, the L.A. market's allure isn't without its risks. If a team like the Raiders continues to lose games, the area's fans could lose interest in them. Its happened before, and teams left. This time, the enormous amount of money being placed on the table has even billionaires worried. The fact is, Mark Davis can't afford to fail. Even the Rams' owner Stan Kroenke's net worth would take a serious ding if the Rams moved back and failed to gain a huge following willing to pay what will no doubt be very expensive ticket prices. We're talking investments in the $$billions here.
If I were the NFL, I'd nix a Rams move if St. Louis can piece together their stadium proposal. I'd be worried about Kroenke's ownership interests in soccer most of all. It's not inconceivable that Kroenke could simply be wanting to move the Rams into a new stadium as a second tier tenant. The L.A. area - being devoid of an NFL franchise for over 20 years - is a HUGE soccer market now. I can easily imagine Kroenke's Premier League team - Arsenal - becoming a regular user of the new stadium he plans to build... Why is this bad? Simply put, Stan Kroenke's failed to live up to conditions regarding divestiture of other sports teams he owns when he bought the Rams. He appears to do what he wants, regardless of promises made? Now, can you imagine the NFL risking the glaring image blight of a soccer team out drawing the Rams in ticket sales, or area popularity? The NFL could very well be giving the PLS a major inroad into the #2 market in the U.S., and helping to finance it... Don't shake your head! If you don't think this is a top concern among the 31 other NFL owners in this re-location process, you're out of your mind...
L.A. is going to get a team headed their way by the end of 2015, or the start of 2016. It's going to be "a" team, not two. It's going to be the Chargers. The Raiders are going to be stuck in Oakland for the time being. They won't be co-building a stadium with the Chargers, which was a ludicrous idea to begin with anyway. It was simply a ploy to leverage a greater share of any re-location fee if Kroenke moved the Rams by re-enforcing San Diego's legal claims to the market. If they didn't at least show an intent to service the L.A. market, Kroenke's lawyers could have made the case in court the Chargers' claims held little or no merit. (I got this last bit from an attorney friend of mine)
"The Office of the Commissioner..."
On the surface: What a great job! But in truth, Rodger Goodell is really in a no-win scenario. Given the task of building a brand, and protecting the integrity of the NFL, he's never - NOT EVER - going to make everyone happy. He's faced with immature, narcissistic, and - at times - flat out stupid players. He's employed at the will of 32 team owners who use him like a public image whipping boy. Let's face it: He's been set up to be the guy who fans love to hate, which isn't fair...
If you look at the myriad of challenges he's faced since taking the job in 2006, it's down right mind boggling. Labor agreements, T.V. contracts, player arrests for any number of crimes, and those moments where he's had to protect the integrity of the NFL itself. I don't know how much he's paid in salary, but it isn't enough...
Anyone wondering what the equation at the top of the page has to do with any of this?
It's about how pressure applied to the edge(s) of a flat surface causes a curvature. Pressure can be applied from above or below, pushing against natural forces until... OK, maybe the equation isn't the exact right one to describe what I'm thinking, but you get the idea, right? Think of NFL fans as a sleeping volcano, then add in all the things thrown at them over the last few years. Pressure on what fans hold as a constant is tearing away at them. Getting slammed by "Gate-this" and Gate-that", ticket prices exploding to the level of being a major investment in line with buying a home; teams treating fans like they're worthless, and, and, and... What irks me the most is how NFL owners seem to be oblivious to the people they need to line their collective pockets with cash...
I'm a southern California native, who moved to New Mexico. I've been a fan of the Rams since 1966-ish, and know how it feels to lose a team. So do the people of St. Louis, who could have it happen to them for a second time. But in this, every NFL fan stands in the same boat. No team is safe. At some point in my life, I know I'll see other teams do the re-location dance once again. How can the NFL believe they can keep doing this with such impunity, and disregard for the fans?
The game of football is under fire from every direction. Injury concerns have parents thinking twice about allowing the kids to play the game. Cities are financially stretched to the limit, and the idea stadiums will continue to be financed thru public funds forever is simply a fool's notion. Sports dollars are sliced between the NFL, NBA, MBL, NHL, and now MSL. Players in the NFL continue to dumbfound fans, with their downright sad choices and behavior. The NFL players I looked up to as a child are a distant memory, and not likely to be replaced in this age of super-ego driven divas.
I have to admit I'm a lost cause when it comes to the Rams and the NFL. I love the game, and will watch it until my dying day. There are thousands of fans like myself, and the NFL knows this. It's why they do what they do... But what they don't take into account is it's people like you and I who'll bring in the next generation of NFL fans. After everything slathered at us, I have little doubt future NFL fans will be even more jaded than we've all come to be. The pressure is building on NFL fans, and if the league and its owners thinks they have things just where they want them, they're oh so very wrong...