Does the NFL Really Need LA?

February 27, 2009
industry

This is Industry, CA

The City Council of Industry, California, a town about 15 miles east of Los Angeles unanimously approved a proposal to build an $800 million football stadium with the intention of luring an NFL team back to the Los Angeles market. I can’t argue with a place deciding they want to build a stadium, they’ve done it in Kansas City with the Sprint Center that houses neither an NHL or NBA team (but hopes to). But LA has always been a weird place when it comes to pro sports.

Most people in LA are from somewhere else so a fan base is tougher to come by for a pro team. Sure, the Lakers and Dodgers usually draw well, but it’s not like the Clippers do or the Rams did when they were in LA. The city is very fair-weather when it comes to pro sports and if the Lakers or Dodgers suddenly became terrible, their attendance would surely suffer.

There are other issues as well, like the history of the Rams and Raiders. Neither of those experiments ultimately worked out especially well. The Raiders won a Super Bowl while in LA but mostly the two teams weren’t very good. They played at the iconic LA Coliseum but the teams wanted luxury boxes and other means of revenue not available in a 75-year old stadium. So building a new stadium would make sense in that regard but would bringing an existing team create an instant fan base? I doubt it.

Another issue with the LA sports scene, especially in regards to the Lakers, is the visibility of celebrities. At basketball games you can sit courtside and have your face on the jumbotron all game long. Ordinary people can also have the thrill of seeing Jack Nicholson or any number of celebs while at Staples Center. That just isn’t going to work in football. You’re more likely to see a celeb in a luxury box on tv than you ever would be actually attending the game. There’s just not the same closeness to the action that draws celebrities.

But all those other points are ancillary in comparison to the major reason a team doesn’t need to move to LA: the NFL has done better than ever since the teams moved from LA in the mid-90s. The growth of the league has been incredible since the Rams moved in 1994 and despite the current economic issues, shows not signs of slowing down. Teams like Buffalo and Minnesota that are linked to possibly be interested in relocating to LA really can’t expect to do any better than they already are, nor can the league expect huge revenue gains from such a move. To start, the Vikings and especially Bills are beloved in their current cities. But even if they did venture out to LA, why would thousands of people pay exorbitant prices at a brand new stadium to see the Los Angeles Vikings or the Los Angeles Bills? West coast fans have absolutely no connection with midwest or northeast teams, unless they grew up in those areas.

It just doesn’t make any sense for the NFL to sacrifice a team for the sake of returning to the second largest media market in the country. I just don’t see revenue being equalled in LA as compared to the long-time fans of existing franchises. The only possible exception to this is Jacksonville, but even there fans exist in large numbers in an area where there are no other professional sports franchises drawing attention away.


The Super Bowl – A Few Thoughts

February 2, 2009

one foot down

I’ll start with the refs and go on to each team.

The Refs – The refs were both pretty good and really bad during the Super Bowl. They did overturn a Roethlisberger “touchdown” that the Super Bowl 40 refs were too lame to do, so that was good. Also good that they reviewed James Harrison’s 100-yard touchdown return and since he landed on top of Larry Fitzgerald, appeared to get that right. Also also good that they reviewed Santonio Holmes’ game-winning touchdown and I understand that they didn’t have overwhelming evidence to overturn it. You’ll never convince me that his right foot didn’t land on his left foot and not the ground (see the photo above), meaning he only had one foot inbounds, but I can live with it. One other good call was reviewing the first Kurt Warner incomplete/fumble issue. Arm clearly going forward and they reversed the call on the field.

Now the bad: The roughing the passer penalty on Karlos Dansby. Just terrible. Al Michaels immediately called out the refs for the terrible call when he questioned whether it was fair to make a guy stop when the quarterback is scrambling. Also awful, the roughing the holder penalty on Adrian Wilson. What the hell was that? There was no mal-intent there. Thankfully both of those didn’t end up costing the Cardinals the game, but they were really bad. There was a bad defensive holding call in the secondary but I can’t remember who that was on, maybe Roderick Hood? Oh, and the worst of all was not reviewing Warner’s second incomplete/fumble issue. Again, arm clearly going forward and it should’ve been an incomplete pass. I doubt that would’ve saved the Cardinals as there were only five seconds left but they could’ve at least tried a hail mary instead of just having the Steelers quickly kneel down to rather undramatically end the game.

The Cardinals – For most of the game they looked like they didn’t belong on the field with the Steelers. If I’m not mistaken they broke the Super Bowl record for penalty yardage while committing dumb penalty after dumb penalty. Now, as you’ve read above, some of them were really bad calls, but still. This game I think exemplified the Cardinals entire season. There were really fantastic plays by the defense, like forcing a field goal twice (second time after Wilson’s holder penalty) on one drive, and there were total goofs like leaving Hines Ward wide open on the first play of the game or giving up that long pass to Holmes with about 45 seconds left. Can’t fault them on the game-winner, that was just a great pass/catch. Also, getting the safety in the fourth was huge, though they should’ve gotten the call the play before when Willie Parker was tackled in the end zone. The holding call was the right one, but it shouldn’t have come to that.

On offense they were at times explosive and fantastic and other times anemic. Fitzgerald didn’t get going until the fourth quarter, though it’s possible the Cardinals set it up that way. Boldin played well and so did Steve Breaston but there were several possessions where they just couldn’t do anything. The long touchdown to Fitzgerald with 2:40 left was a great play but kind of a lucky one. All in all they just couldn’t get the offense together for the whole game. If they had, they would’ve won the game.

The Steelers – Pretty good defensive effort throughout. Though they did give up a couple of pretty big pass plays. There was no question they were going to stop the run and for the most part, shut the Cardinals down on the ground. They did have some issues with the flats in the early quarters as John Madden so aptly pointed out, but they got over that by the second half. Harrison’s interception return was one of the luckiest plays I’ve ever seen but obviously a credit to him for running it all the way back. That was the real tide-turner. If the Cardinals score on that pass (would’ve been Boldin) it’s a completely different ballgame with Arizona ahead at half. But what the hell were the Steelers doing when Fitzgerald scored the long touchdown? In the end, the Steelers did just enough in the first half to keep the Cardinals from scoring enough to win the game.

Pittsburgh’s offense wasn’t all that great but they got the job done. Some really lucky plays by Roethlisberger saved the game for them and that was enough to get it done. Holmes obviously had a really good game, and he had to since Ward wasn’t able to do much. Of course, Holmes is lucky to have caught the final ball because if he hadn’t, he’d be the all-time goat in Steeler history after dropping the pass before. Basically this was what the Steelers did, try to run and generally fail, let Roethlisberger drop back but don’t block for him, Big Ben scrambles around and completes some improbable pass to Heath Miller or Holmes. That was the Steelers offense. And it was just enough, helped by seven points from the defense, to win the game.

Commercials – The commercials were lame. I mean, really lame. I actually don’t remember any of them and I didn’t have any booze at all. Nothing particularly funny, nothing memorable at all. I don’t know if the spots have become so expensive simply to acquire them that the cost to create something good or funny is too much? But this was the saddest year to date.

Atmosphere – The crowd, as far as I could tell on a 15″ tv was relatively evenly split between the teams. At least there were always big roars when something went in favor of the Cardinals, which I wasn’t really expecting. As far as watching the game, it was fantastic because I just sat at home and watched it. No drunk asshole Steeler fans that I would’ve run into at a bar and no one else to talk about anything but the game, as would’ve happened had I watched it with a group.

Excitement – this ranks as the second best Super Bowl I can remember watching. My first start-to-finish Super Bowl was Super Bowl 26 in January 1992 and the only one better than last night was the Rams-Titans game in January 2000. This game could’ve had a similar ending and surpassed that Super Bowl if the refs had let Warner attempt a hail mary on the last play. Maybe he gets sacked again or maybe he gets it to the endzone and Fitzgerald catches it. Or maybe Pittsburgh intercepts it to save the win, but either way, the way it ended was completely lame compared to the previous ten minutes’ excitement.


What Gives with the Super Bowl Logo?

January 29, 2009

logoPaul Lukas asked a good question on the Uni-Watch blog the other day about the Super Bowl logo being used this year. Why does it feature so much green and blue? The logo clashes pretty badly with the Cardinals‘ red uniforms and just looks kind of cheesy with the Steelers‘ (especially because they always have a chest patch, so adding a second one starts to look like NFL Europe). Which leads to a larger question, why isn’t the logo tailored to the two teams involved in the game instead of just being generic? Can you really say it would take more than the two weeks between championship games and the Super Bowl to color coordinate a logo to the appropriate teams?

In this vein, the New York Times put together a pretty cool slideshow of alternative logos made by different graphic designers from across the country. Some of them are really fantastic, like the one pictured above. Some of them are downright odd or have nothing to do with the Super Bowl. But either way, take a look and let me know which one you like best.


The AD Hall Super Bowl Pick

January 29, 2009

logo

Ok, I know you’ve all been waiting to hear what I think about the Super Bowl.

Or maybe not. But too bad, you’re going to find out anyway. Here’s how I think it’ll play out:

1st quarter:
Steelers - Hines Ward TD catch from Ben Roethlisberger – 7-0 Pitt
Steelers – Jeff Reed FG – 10-0 Pitt

2nd quarter:
Cardinals – Larry Fitzgerald TD catch from Kurt Warner – 10-7 Pitt
Steelers – Jeff Reed FG – 13-7 Pitt
Cardinals – Steve Breaston TD catch from Kurt Warner – 14-13 Arz

3rd quarter:
Steelers – Gary Russell TD run – 20-14 Pitt
Steelers – Jeff Reed FG – 23-14 Pitt

4th quarter:
Cardinals – Neil Rackers FG – 23-17 Pitt
Steelers – Jeff Reed FG – 26-17 Pitt

So there you have it, 26-17 Pittsburgh over Arizona in Super Bowl 43. I think Hines Ward will win the MVP after catching a half-dozen balls and a touchdown after his leg injury in the AFC title game. I like the Pittsburgh defense to stifle completely the Arizona running game but I don’t see Kurt Warner having enough time to get off all of his usual throws and he’ll have two interceptions. Ben Roethlisberger will also have an interception and he won’t complete more than twelve passes but it’ll be enough.


This Isn’t Right

January 27, 2009

The main headline and story on CNN.com several moments ago was a new study released showing the results of multiple concussions on now-deceased NFL players. The story also talks about still-living former players who have gone through depression, sleep depravation and other problems due to the traumatic injuries to their brains while playing in the NFL. Clearly this is a sports story.

It would stand to reason that a story that important and that explosive would reach the front headlines of every major sports website out there. One would think anyway:

SI.com – sidebar headline – main story and two other headlines are about the Super Bowl (note: SI.com is operated by CNN)
ESPN.com – no headline at all – main story is about the Super Bowl
CBS Sports Line – no headline at all – main story and four other headlines about the Super Bowl
Yahoo Sports – no headline at all – main story and six other headlines about the Super Bowl
Fox Sports – no headline at all – main story and one other headline about the Super Bowl
NBC Sports (who will be airing the Super Bowl) – no headline at all – main story and four other headlines about the Super Bowl

I’m not suggesting collusion but it’s shocking that this kind of story gets absolutely no coverage while there are multiple different stories about the Super Bowl on every single site. I’d be willing to bet that searches concerning gambling odds on everything from the final score to who will win the opening coin flip (can it really be anything other than 50/50?) are easier to find than this story.

I don’t know what it will take for people to take this subject seriously. I know that I probably had a handful of concussions while playing football and that was just through the high school level. The worst two hits I ever took were in practice and one of which was from a guy on my own side of the ball! Maybe if someone like Brett Favre were to die at 45 due to traumatic brain injuries it would shake up the NFL like when Kory Stringer died eight years ago. I hope it doesn’t come to that but it might be the only thing that could actually get the public’s attention.


The Worst Sports Week of the Year

January 23, 2009

This is it, right now. Sure there are some good college basketball games going on but with the NFL on its ridiculous week off, the NBA not even to its All-Star break and still in the early rounds of the Australian Open, nothing is really happening of major consequence.

The biggest culprit in this is clearly the NFL. I don’t remember exactly when they started it, maybe five years ago, but the two weeks between the league championship games and the Super Bowl is just awful. Next year they’re going to stick the Pro Bowl in this week and have it at the site of the Super Bowl (Miami again) to try and gain some interest both from fans and the players in the Pro Bowl. But I don’t know if that’ll really make any difference for the fans. More of the players are likely to attend but still, who cares about the Pro Bowl. And do teams really need two weeks to figure each other out? They’ve spent the whole season having one week or less to prepare for games, why the extra time. More often than not the teams come out rusty and out of sync, having only lightly practiced for two full weeks. It makes sense on the injury front, get as many healthy players for the most important game of the year. But really, it’s a killer for fans.

Anyway, I won’t make my Super Bowl prediction until next week. Might as well spend a few more days convincing myself of one side or the other. Maybe that’s what the extra week is for, giving more people more time to put wagers on the game. Since that is after all, the most influential part of the NFL anyway.


Steelers Will Return to Super Bowl

January 18, 2009

troy

The Steelers battered Joe Flacco and the Ravens tonight and Troy Polamalu’s 40-yard interception return for a touchdown sealed Baltimore’s fate as Pittsburgh advances to another Super Bowl, 23-14. The Ravens were hanging in there and driving down the field toward what could have been a game-winning field goal before Polamalu picked Flacco off and weaved his way in for the final score.

Really, Pittsburgh looked like the better team throughout the game. There were a few bonehead plays that kept the score closer than it probably should’ve been with Limus Sweed’s horrible dropped touchdown pass leading the charge. But the Steelers were good enough on offense and tough enough on defense to stifle the Ravens for the third time this year. And they did most of it without Hines Ward who was hurt in the first quarter and did not return.

So now the match-up for Super Bowl XLIII is Arizona and Pittsburgh. There can’t be anyone in America who picked this game for the Super Bowl. I sure as shit didn’t. I’m ashamed that link is even still attached to this site. More analysis to come over the next two weeks.


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