Insights, complaints, challenges and compliments from readers of The MMQB
Every Tuesday, Peter King answers questions from readers in his two mailbags, the most recent of which you can read here and watch here. But they represent a small portion of the correspondence that all of our writers receive every week via email, Twitter, Facebook, the occasional postal delivery and the comments section under stories. After reading many of the smart comments under Jenny Vrentas’ recent story about the NFL’s desire to put a franchise in London—especially the insight and suggestions posted by the user headblade—the editors of The MMQB have decided to run a regular column highlighting the complaints, challenges, compliments and points of view of our readers. In some instances we have lightly edited for grammar and clarity, but otherwise the letters remain unchanged.
Will this run every week? Every other? Once a month? We’re not sure yet. As you might expect, we want your feedback. Like the idea? Hate it? Have ways to improve the conversation? Let us know in the comments section below, or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Have a story idea, or a way to improve something else that we’re doing? We want to hear from you about that, too.
Below, in no particular order, we’ve highlighted your feedback on Vrentas’ London story, Don Banks’ column on the Raiders and Jon Gruden, King’s Monday Morning Quarterback, Robert Klemko’s take on the Jets’ mess, and Greg Bedard’s feature on out-of-work coach Ken Flajole, among many others. If you want to go back to a read a story, or to see a particular comments section in its entirety, simply click on the story image at the top of each section.
Thanks for reading. We look forward to hearing more from you.
— The editors of The MMQB
A London team would have an unbelievable home field advantage. Can you imagine a Thursday night game where London plays host to the Chargers?
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With the high income taxes, sales taxes, and property taxes in the U.K., the league would have to adjust the salary cap for the London team. Having West Coast teams and the London team travel eight time zones is a completely unfair advantage and would make it more difficult to reach the postseason. This idea is doomed to disaster.
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My main worry with a London team is that if it can't attract free agents, the franchise would be perpetually as bad as the Browns or even worse. At the very least, success would be highly unlikely. Without some success, the fanbase would either drift away from the game or, more likely, go back to their original teams … The only way I can see the NFL becoming firmly ensconced in the U.K. with a London team is if the NFL invests a significant amount of money in the local game, and tries to poach players from rugby, athletics and other sports to play it. Having some local players would make a London team feel far less mercenary.
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Soccer, soccer, soccer ... the writers of these pieces always seem to forget that London is also the home of rugby and cricket, the world’s second most popular sport and one which is gaining a foothold even in places like China. American football is facing an uphill struggle.
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If I am season ticket holder [in the United State], is my season going to start being defined as six or seven home games? Interesting to me that the NFL just takes the U.S. fans for granted. As a lifelong NFL fan I find all of this insulting. Go ahead, hold a Super Bowl in London, I wouldn't watch. To me this is a stupid idea.
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I say to heck with London. The NFL should look at the Roman Empire for any kind of context.
Regarding Los Angeles, I think the NFL should build a stadium there, go to 17 weeks and have Thursday Night in L.A. Sixteen games a year could be played in L.A., with every NFL team playing there once. No one loses a home game, L.A. gets a stadium and in a city of transplants, it becomes an event and tourist destination. I think the NFL wants to have it's own version of Jerry World, and I think if they ended up doing something like this, you can bet there'd be a Super Bowl there every other year. If they decide to move a team there, a stadium is already built. I don't know, it makes sense to me. The NFL gets an extra game that they want; L.A. gets to see real, live football with all the teams; they generate more excitement for Thursday Night Football; the NFL gets a palace for these games, plus ALL the revenue; they get an L.A. Super Bowl site, etc., etc., etc.
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A single team in London won't work because it will require too much travel for too many teams, particularly the teams in the same division as the London team. What might work is a four-team European division, with teams in London, Frankfurt, Berlin and Paris or wherever. They would play a significant part of their schedule amongst themselves. These teams would only need to make five trips to the U.S. instead of eight. Still a lot, but more manageable. The rest of the teams in the NFL would only need to travel there once every six to eight years on average.
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Fans in London will not put up with a team that goes 2-14 whose squad is full of a bunch of nobodies. A team like the Raiders in London would be a complete disaster. Keep the NFL's exposure in London as a novelty that happens a few times a year among multiple teams.
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As a British NFL fan since 1984, I dislike the idea of a London franchise, as it is a bad solution to the problem of global expansion, bringing with it a laundry list of problems.
As indicated in the article, most U.K. fans have already assigned their loyalty to a team. As a Bears fan, they could put a stadium 100 yards from my house and give me free season tickets for life; I would still remain a Bears fan. How does putting a team in southeast England spread the game anywhere other than southeast England?
Also imagine trying to draft players. Some 21-year-old kid from a poor single-parent family with a bunch of younger siblings being told he has to move thousands of miles away to a foreign country for at least one third of the year! I always thought it was bad enough to be forced to swap coasts, but this is particularly cruel!
Travel, taxes, laws, scheduling, etc. The problems are just too numerous and complex to itemize. So what is the solution, if not a London franchise? Easy: NEUTRAL-SITE GAMES!
Rumours that the NFL wants to expand the season keep circulating, and this is the way. Make the season a 19-week, 17-game schedule with two bye weeks. Every team plays eight home, eight away, and one neutral site. TV gets two extra weeks of coverage, they're happy. The NFL gets the revenue from two extra weeks of TV and one extra game, they're happy. Players prevent going to 18 games whilst getting an extra bye week, they're kinda happy.
And the league gets 16 neutral-site games per season to place anywhere around the globe. Where can you put 16 games? Well, London had already proved successful, so they could take three or four. Other European cities that embraced NFL Europe like Berlin and Barcelona are probably good for a game or two. Canada would probably like a piece, as would Mexico; both have stage games before. How about emerging markets such as China and Japan?
But they don't even have to all go abroad!!! How many states that don't have a franchise would love to stage a game or two? Nebraska, Oklahoma, Idaho, Oregon, Alabama, Hawaii, etc. In a week when their respective college teams are playing away does the NFL not think these games would quickly sell out? This is how you expand the game globally and profitably without asking too much from players or dividing the loyalty of fans.
Gruden is one of the most overrated coaches of all time, which is saying something since there are so many. Utterly dreadful decision if taken and one that will only serve to enhance Chuckie’s bank balance and the win/loss records of the Raiders' opponents.
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Why would Gruden want the job? He's got enough money. He's got a sweet job at ESPN. Why tarnish his reputation? Ineptitude of the Davis family is the basic problem. If the Raiders are going to return to their former "glory," new ownership is a must.
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I think the bigger question is whether Gruden wants the job. He may get offered a lot of money, but man, that's a tall order. Rebuilding a franchise that's been terrible for a long time isn't easy, I'm sure. But the Raiders have a ton of cap space, and I think Derek Carr looks good so far as their QB of the future. Gruden might be a good choice, but what about a young guy? Why not someone new? The NFL is a revolving door of mostly the same names and faces, and new guys who get a shot are few and far between. There's got to be a DC or OC out there with a lot of experience who deserves a shot. This would be a BIG challenge, but a big-name hire has no better chance of making it work than some new blood.
— Bongo 7
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Don’t often agree with Don Banks, but he is right about Gruden being overrated. He is a pretty good coach, but he is not some legendary guy who instantly can turn around a franchise. I think it’s why he will never coach again. People will remember him as better than he was. As for the Raiders, maybe just maybe they should not have fired Hue Jackson. He made the terrible Carson Palmer trade, but as a coach he had them going in the right direction. All the cap space in world does not mean anything when players don’t want to play for you.
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This incredibly simplistic article overlooks the major fact: it's not all about winning—it's about selling tickets. The Raiders would get an immediate sales boost from selling Gruden. Of course, he'd likely fail to win—as pointed out in the article—but don't dismiss his hiring without considering the financial implications of a “name hire.”
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Vince Lombardi couldn't fix that team, let alone Chuckie.
This is an excellent example when league average statistical analysis doesn't really capture the game situation. The 49ers’ D-line was dominating the Eagles on running plays, getting penetration and blowing up plays. The only time the Eagles were moving the ball was on passing plays or when they identified a time when they outnumbered the defense (based on alignment) for a run. The fact that the run/pass comparison league wide is a fairly close (45% success vs. 55% success) indicates, if anything, that Chip Kelly was most likely correct in believing he had a better chance throwing than running.
This team has gotten worse under general manager John Idzik. He failed to address the lack of talent in the secondary. Geno Smith, while being stuck with no weapons, is lost and may never find it. The defensive line is solid but other than that this team needs a complete overhaul.
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Remember this guys—when Geno Smith was drafted he was a second-round pick. The Jets handed him the keys to the car and he has struggled. He has the physical tools but by his actions (cursing at fans and missing team meetings) he was too immature in the first place to handle the job. So who is to blame for not seeing the character flaws that may be part of the problem? Hey, how about that front office that has been drafting stinkers since 1969?! P.S., Dee Milliner is no Revis and is just another miss by the Jets’ front office. I don't even watch college ball and bet I can do a better job than the Jets’ front office. What a disgrace they are.
— Marco Pacella
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I have no dog in this fight, but my view from the West Coast is that Rex is a very good coach in a very bad situation. Rex will get a good gig as a D coordinator and will probably get another shot as a head coach in a few years. Unfortunately for Jets fans, Idzik will probably buy himself another year or two by firing Rex and bringing in a new coach.
Just wanted to drop a quick note about the article Jenny V. wrote on Chris Carr. Really great stuff, I love the behind-the-scenes stuff you guys do. I really enjoying hearing about this side of the game, not only what players do after retirement but also the other behind-the-curtain articles you have published. Keep up the great work!
— Scott Coffin
Message to Greg Bedard: I just read during my lunch break your Oct. 7 column on Ken Flajole and I wanted to compliment you on it. It was an easy and compelling read about a side of the coaching carousel us fans don’t usually think about when we’re thinking that team ‘A’ should axe this coach or that coach. Thanks for a great read.
— Wayne Fecteau
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After 24 years in the military (six years in the Air Force, 18 in the Army), and with multiple permanent injuries, I was forced into a medical discharge. It was rough the first few years, but I soon found a few hobbies to keep me occupied. You want to feel like you can still do the job, be with your comrades, but eventually you get over it. I just enjoy what I have now, and am thankful for the opportunity to be a good citizen in my community, and friend to my fellow VFW buddies.
— Wisconsin Death Trip
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I'd love to collect an NFL paycheck whilst drinking rum and cokes in an Adirondack chair in the PNW!
There have been a few write-ups about Rivers in the last couple weeks and this is by far the best. I always appreciate when writers break down individual plays rather then just glaze over everything with positive sound bites from different people in the league. I'm stoked the Chargers are doing well, but I'd rather stay under the radar as long as possible. We've been 4-1 before but have always come away empty. This year feels different mostly because the defense has been playing lights out. I haven't seen this good of tackling in SD since 2006. All I care about right now is the Raiders. Go Bolts!
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Rivers, Rivers, Rivers...nobody cares, the Chargers will fold like a cheap suit as usual.
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Bunch of superfluous commentary. “How did Rivers get his groove back?” Answer: Norv Turner left. Simple as that.
The NFL ownership, management and participants have created an embarrassment for the U.S. and killed a favored pastime due to greed and ego. Peter, I have to believe you and your peers are searching your souls. A short life to deal with this morally and ethically corrupt, once dignified pastime.
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Peter, looks like you're still a mouthpiece for the NFL PR machine. Why not put one of your investigative reporters on this assignment?
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Oh my god, people! Get off your high horses! The whole “embarrassment for the U.S.” thing and the “NFL mouthpiece” drivel is getting really tiresome! The NFL is a business that hires from all walks of life. The fact that some get into trouble is problematic... the fact that the NFL dropped the ball on domestic violence is just indicative of our times as a society and not an indictment specifically against the NFL! Until such time as our politicians stop lying and covering up their sins, our courts favoring those who can afford the best lawyers, and our people stop being invested in reality TV instead of reality, we won't get past this mindset. Do yourselves a favor folks and move on! You can start casting stones at the NFL again when EVERYONE ELSE isn't guilty of the same thing!
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The discipline thing is easily resolved. In Australia in the early 90’s we had a wave of players taking punishments to the civil courts in order to delay the punishment till after finals (playoffs) were over. This forced the hand of the AFL to hire an independent judge to look at the entire discipline system and put it on a solid legal footing. Each offence is assigned a points value. Players with a bad track record have an extra weighting given to their offences. There is a clearly defined independent appeals process. Many offences accumulate points without penalty but they stay on your record for a set period of time, and a second or third offence is enough to earn a suspension. This sort of system has taken all of the controversy out of player discipline and is only ever controversial when people dispute the grading of a high tackle (a very subjective thing). This sort of system would be harder to achieve in the NFL because politics around collective bargaining make this sort of dramatic change hard to negotiate. In Australia we had federal workplace laws that forced the hand of the AFL and made it happen. The end result though is a system that would solve all of the NFL's credibility issues. It’s worth a look.
Jim Schwartz is a child and a lousy coach who absolutely deserved to be fired. What kind of a loser demands to be carried off the field after the fifth game of the season?
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Peter, very disappointing you allowed yourself to be a shill for Rahm Emanuel. His track record bringing “big events” to Chicago has been very poor, not at all like you allowed him to portray. He might be building a domestic violence shelter, but it comes on the heels of closing numerous mental health centers. Bringing the NFL draft here is just another media splash to cover up how bad the state of city services have been and everything that’s been done to attack schools and working people in Chicago. You just helped him do it. Very, very disappointed. I’ve been reading for 10+ years and this was one of the crappiest things I've seen you do with your column.
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I am convinced more and more every day by what Mark Cuban said. The NFL is trying to fill in every gap in the programming schedule. Extending the reach of Thursday games, London games, trying to get a schedule that works for all 32 teams. London franchise? (Ha!). I am afraid that they are very close to the over-saturation point. With trying to get over the Ray Rice and domestic abuse debacle and being pinked out again this year, increasing incidents of former players erratic and violent behavior, increased concussion and CTE research, they may very well be closer to the end than they think. The stories of reduced enrollment in youth football leagues have already started.
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Re: your comment “Even after Peyton Manning retires, you could see a great Rocky Mountain/Pacific Northwest rivalry develop between Denver and Seattle.” You mean like when they played each other twice a year between 1978 and 2001?
— Barry Hawkins, Centennial, Colorado
Readers’ Pumpkin Beernerdness
I found one this weekend that might be the ultimate pumpkin brew: Southern Tier Pumking. It tastes like pumpkin pie in a bottle. Sweet, but not grit-your-teeth-and-cringe sweet. — Chris
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Tell Peter if he wants to end his search for the best Pumpkin Beer this season, find some New Belgium Pumpkick. Best pumpkin beer he will ever have. — Adam
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As you continue your search for the ever-elusive great pumpkin beer, I cannot recommend more highly the Evil Genius "Trick or Treat" Chocolate Pumpkin Porter. — West, Newark, Delaware
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Try Saucony Creek’s Maple Mistress. It is an Imperial Pumpkin Ale and has got some serious pumpkin to it, and is Spices-in-the-Bottom-of-the-Glass kind of good. — Matt
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The Traveler Jack-O Shandy, from Vermont. Real pumpkin and lemon peel. You'll love it. — Jon, Camillus, New York
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You have to try the Wilhelm Scream Pumpkin Ale by Magic Hat. Fantastic flavor and not too spicy. I hope you like it. — Keith, Charlestown, Rhode Island
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You need to give Ichabod by the New Holland Brewing Company a shot. I am usually not a flavored beer fan, but I have been enjoying Ichabod greatly this fall. — Adam, Rochester, Indiana
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My absolute favorites (so far) are Nebraska Brewery’s Pumpkin Ale— nice spice and pumpkin finish—and Schlafly Brewery Pumpkin Ale. Shlafly also makes a delicious Octoberfest beer! — Patty, Salisbury, Maryland
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Peter, When it comes to “beernerdness” you've got to try "The Jeffrey" on 59th between 1st and 2nd in NYC. If you get in their soon, they have a “Pumking” beer from Southern Tier that is a Pumpkin beer to die for. Not to mention their other 29 rotating taps from craft beer breweries across the world. It’s a hidden neighborhood gem that gets very busy after 6 p.m., but is great for a late afternoon cold one. If you're in the area for lunch, they also have a $10 beer and a sandwich special that you can't beat in NYC! — MKMoniz
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RE: Pumpkin Ales—give Horseheads pumpkin Ale a try (get it in NYS). — ProfessorGriff
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