In last week’s Mythical Picks, I deferred comment on two NFL news items from last week until today. The first is the decision by the LA Rams to hire Sean McVay as their new head coach even though he has not quite yet been able to celebrate his 31st birthday. Some have disparaged that decision based on his age saying he is too young to lead a locker room “full of men”. While these naysayers may indeed have their ageist comments vindicated in the future, what they are saying is equivalent to someone else saying that Joe Flabeetz is too old and too frail to lead a locker room full of men because good ol’ Joe is 69 years old. There is one job that comes to mind where McVay’s age is absolutely disqualifying; that job would be President of the United States. Article II of the US Constitution says very specifically:
“…neither shall any person be eligible to that Office [the Presidency] who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years …”
I understand that the NFL would have all of us believe that being a head coach of an NFL team is a monumental undertaking, but I submit that it is merely a very high-paying job with a lot less job security than lots of other high paying jobs. If Sean McVay “fails” in LA, it will probably have much more to do with the players he can put on the field than it will with the number of crop cycles he has experienced in his lifetime.
For the record, I think the idea of hiring a young first-time coach is preferable to hiring a “retread”. Yes, I know all about Bill Belichick as a “retread”. I also know about lots of other “retreads” hired into the NFL who were not significantly more successful in their second gig as they were in their first gig.
I do not want to leave the impression that I think the Rams or McVay are destined for greatness because of this “bold move” by the Rams. Perhaps they are; perhaps they are not. There have been great coaches who have been hired at an early age:
- John Madden
- Shula the Elder – aka Don
- Mike Tomlin.
There have also been stinkbombs hired at an early age:
- Lane Kiffin
- Josh McDaniel
- Raheem Morris
- Shula the Younger – aka David.
The other topic from last week is the relocation of the San Diego Super Chargers to LA to be co-tenants with the Rams in the new stadium complex being built by Rams’ owner Stan Kroenke. I am not surprised by the move; the Chargers and the movers and shakers in San Diego have been at odds for at least 10 years over the Chargers “need” for a new stadium. When a referendum posited as a last and final chance went down to a landslide defeat in November 2016, the die was cast. Having said all of that, I do not think that the Chargers’ owners wanted to move the franchise to begin with and I doubt that the Chargers would want to be the junior tenants in the LA development project headed up by the Rams. And that is just the beginning of what I suspect might be a less-than-smart set of decisions by the NFL owners.
Los Angeles had two NFL teams in the past and both of them moved out of town. Yes, there were “stadium issues” that were involved in the departures then but there were also issues of less-than-robust support for those teams. For about the last 20 years, the NFL football fans in LA may not have had a team, but here is what they did have:
- On Sundays, they got to watch on TV the best games of the day from around the league. LA was not an exclusive market for a team; there was no “home team” that fans saw every week. Moreover, they got to see three games on Sundays.
- Now, they will get to see the Rams and the Chargers on Sunday – every Sunday. The only way they will get to see a Cowboys/Packers game as the “late afternoon” game on Sunday will be if one of the two local teams happens to play on Thursday, Sunday night or Monday.
I do not recall a time in the last 20 years or so when there was a huge outcry from the Joe Sixpacks of LA – or whatever the beautiful-people equivalent of Joe Sixpack may be – begging for a replacement franchise from the NFL. Now they will have 2 teams and if the support for the Rams in their first year in LA is even a marginal indicator, there are loads of fans in LA who found better things to do with their weekends than going to see the Rams play in the flesh. Stan Kroenke clearly wanted to move his team to LA and fans seemingly shrugged their shoulders. Dean Spanos clearly did not want to be part of this enterprise and so what might he expect from those fans?
There is a very interesting twist to the Chargers’ decision to move to LA. For the next two years, the Chargers will play in a stadium in Carson CA – where the Chargers and Raiders had hoped to build their own joint stadium a year ago – and that stadium was built as a soccer pitch for the LA Galaxy. It originally had 27,000 seats and has been expanded to 30,000. The story is that it can take another expansion and get to 40,000 and that is the plan for the Chargers. For the next two years, the Chargers will play in what is by far the smallest stadium in the NFL. That implies two things to me:
- There is danger ahead for the Chargers. What happens to the Chargers’ marketing strategy in their new home town if they cannot sell out their stadium-on-training-wheels?
- The decision by the Chargers and the acquiescence of the NFL to their residence in a small venue opens a door for the Oakland Raiders to use in stadium negotiations.
Let me explain the second point there. The Raiders have – reportedly – a financing deal in place for a new stadium in Las Vegas. The flies in that ointment are that Sheldon Adelson has $650M of his money in the deal and negotiations between Mark Davis and the “Adelson family” have not been progressing well. To me, it seems to come down to how big a share of team ownership does Adelson want for his stake in the venture. Maybe I’m wrong… In any event, the latest reporting by the Las Vegas Review-Journal is that the stadium financing is solid even if Adelson pulls his money out of the deal. Here is a link to that report:
Sheldon Adelson is indeed “big money” and that means he wields plenty of power. However, this report says that Goldman Sachs indicates that the deal is solid and Goldman Sachs represents even bigger money than Sheldon Adelson. If correct, this report is an important element in the Raiders’ attempt to get out of Oakland.
The other fly in the ointment is that the Raiders play in a miserable venue that has needed renovation for more than a decade but they would be forced to stay there for another couple of years until the new Las Vegas playpen could be constructed. For those 2 years, you can expect that they will not draw well in their stadium/porta-potty. But the approval of the Chargers to play in a 40,000-seat stadium might allow the Raiders to move to Las Vegas immediately if they can find a way to play on the same field that UNLV uses for its home football games.
UNLV plays in Sam Boyd Stadium which has a seating capacity of 36,800 and can expand to 40,000 seats “when called for”. That sounds like an acceptable temporary home for an NFL team to me if indeed the Chargers’ temporary quarters are acceptable – unless of course some old-time NFL owners want to make Mark Davis squirm and suffer because he is the spawn of their old nemesis, Al Davis.
All of this remains in flux. I am sure we will revisit all of this. The only sure losers in all of this are the NFL fans in LA whose TV options will not be significantly constrained as compared to a few years ago.
Finally, here is a comment from Greg Cote in the Miami Herald:
“To the list of life’s unending mysteries, add this: Why do newspapers, including my own, continually report as news whatever Mel Kiper Jr. guesses about the upcoming NFL Draft?”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………