Vegas Raiders? Get Ready
As the NFL heads to its annual league meetings next week (in Phoenix, beginning Sunday), there are a few things happening. Pace of game will be discussed and amended, I believe. Sportsmanship will be on the agenda—particularly as it pertains to silly mega-fines for things like shooting a faux free-throw over the goal post as a touchdown celebration. But the biggie, to be sure, is the fate of the Raiders’ proposed move to Las Vegas.
Looks like they won’t be the Oakland Raiders much longer.
Albert Breer of The MMQB has been reporting the story for the past couple days, and he will have significant details in his column Thursday. I asked him to give me the headlines, seeing that it’s likely those will leak out Wednesday. Breer’s report:
The Raiders aren’t packing for Vegas yet, but there may be no stopping them now. The league has made workable one potential road block for owner Mark Davis’ team, setting a range of $325 million to $375 million for the franchise’s relocation fee, sources tell The MMQB. That's relatively affordable compared to the $650 million the Rams and Chargers each paid to relocate to Los Angeles.
The expectation now is that a vote on the move will be taken at next week’s annual meeting—a good indication the league feels it has the requisite three-quarters of the 32 owners to approve the move to Las Vegas. The NFL’s stadium finance committee met last week, and clearly the NFL is bullish on a funding plan that is now being backed by Bank of America, and has its foundation in a record $750 million in public money. As one owner explained about the viability of the project, “I think in 10 to 15 years, you’ll see the Raiders doing better than at least one of the L.A. teams and potentially both L.A. teams.”
There is some concern over the idea of moving from the nation’s sixth-largest market—and a growing, diverse and economically vibrant one—to its 40th-biggest market. And there are lingering questions about the lease in Oakland and whether the Raiders would need to use a potential temporary facility, UNLV’s Sam Boyd Stadium, before the new stadium would be ready in 2020. But no legitimate, stay-in-Oakland option is on the table. So by this time next week there’s a very good chance that the NFL’s renegade brand will be on the move again.
It’s not a stunner, and once the Bank of America financing came in to support the $750 million guarantee from Nevada officials, the Raiders would have had to have a huge about-face from the city of Oakland—which doesn’t have that kind of money to throw around—to reverse course and stay in northern California. So I get it. What I do not like, though, is that the Chargers and Raiders are leaving passionate markets, Oakland and San Diego, for Las Vegas and Los Angeles. Vegas is a total unknown, but I actually think the Chargers in Los Angeles is worse for the league. No one in L.A. cares about the Chargers. Plus, they are not winners right now. If they want to matter, they’d better win soon.
The NFL is not as strong with the Chargers out of San Diego and the Raiders out of Oakland. The NFL is not as passionate a league. It’s a wealthier league. But it’s not a better league for people who consume the game.
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We at The MMQB are entering our fifth season covering pro football as a microsite, and we’re always looking for new ways to tell you stories that you haven’t experienced before. This week, we’ll introduce “24 Hours,” a series of video and long-form stories about days in the lives of the people who are integral to pro football. The series debuts Thursday with a look at ESPN information savant Adam Schefter—and the day we caught him on happens to be the one he calls his biggest of the year. Writer Tim Rohan and videographer John DePetro of The MMQB trailed Schefter on the opening day of free agency, March 9, and the tick-tock of their story begins when Schefter rises at 4:30 a.m. It ends with the (apparently bogus) Jimmy Garoppolo Facebook post 23-and-a-half hours later. Pretty strong 24 hours to document, and Rohan and DePetro have produced great stuff for you to experience. (Watch the trailer here.) You’ll feel the intensity of the day. Here’s a bite of it, from Rohan, from 12:50 p.m. on March 9, when Schefter gets a text he’d been waiting for all day.
A text came in. “Call me,’’ it said.
“Oh, boy, here we go!” Schefter yelped.
He called this source from the landline at his desk, cupped his mouth over the phone and spoke in a near whisper. “I’m nervous, man. I’m just telling you, these things move … And we’re already at 1 o’clock basically, so … Okay, what do we got?” Schefter pulled up that e-mail draft and made an adjustment to the big paragraph he’d been keeping secret.
“I got it all. … Just keep me posted. I’m like hyperventilating over here … Yeah, so, it could happen in the next hour, next two hours, right? Are you going to send me, like, ‘Go?’ … Okay, I’m on the lookout. Thanksbuhbye.”
Full story coming Thursday at The MMQB.
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Now for your email...
THESE GUYS, TOO
Mickey Marvin, a two-time Super Bowl winner with the Raiders, died of ALS on March 6 at 60 years old, much too young. He was a gentle giant.
You forgot 49ers QB Bob Waters.
I know of another former NFL player with ALS who was not on Peter’s list: Former Tampa Bay RB Kerry Goode.
Thanks to all for these, which serve to remind us how ALS has affected so many former football players. I’ll be writing more in the coming weeks.
Really enjoyed the podcast with Cris Collinsworth. Here's a Factoid That May Only Interest You: Collinsworth mentioned, in addition to being on the opposing sideline for Montana's famous Super Bowl XXIII game-winning drive, that while he was at Florida he was also on the losing end of Georgia's famous "Lindsay Scott" 93-yard miracle touchdown that beat the Gators on the way to the Dawgs' 1980 national championship. Well, guess who handled the play-by-play of the game for ABC that day? None other than Al Michaels.
Excellent reminder. In fact, in my podcast with Collinsworth, he mentioned and relived that Florida-Georgia game. I could tell when he was talking that it still rankled him.
CHASE DANIEL’S RICHES
Long-time MMQB reader. Very random question. Chase Daniel requested to be released from the Eagles. I went back and did the math. He's earned just under $20 million over the course of his career. Or another way to put it—he's made about $247,000 per NFL pass attempt (78 in total). I don't have anything against the guy. In fact, I am a Mizzou alum so in theory I should be a fan of his. But my question is, has anyone ever earned more money for doing less on the field than Chase Daniel in NFL history? If he plays a few more years, he could approach the $30 million mark. What a life!
Good question, Tom. I’d put JaMarcus Russell, who had three horrendous seasons after being the first pick overall 10 years ago, at the top of the class. He made $39.4 million for winning seven games for Oakland. Chase Daniel might one day start in the NFL, and he’s been a popular player with some very smart coaches.
MARSHAWN LYNCH QUESTIONS
I think Lynch is finished. I hope he returns and gives it a shot, but think he is foolish to try unless he needs a few million. Can't Lynch easily force his release by simply unretiring and making plans to go back to Seattle? The Seahawks will not pay him what he would be due, but would release him.
The Seahawks unburdened themselves of Lynch by taking all of his remaining cap cost in 2016. They don’t want him back. That’s why it’s likely they’ll simply let him go—so long as it’s Oakland doing the asking, because they do not want to stand in his way of playing somewhere that it is in his blood.
ARE THE COWBOYS DOING RIGHT BY ROMO?
Tony Romo handled the difficult situation last year with class, saying all the right things and being a team player. The Cowboys said that they would release him just a few weeks ago. Then they seemed to change their mind. I have heard some reporters say that there is no rush because OTAs are still four weeks away. But the longer this goes on, the more the free-agent money begins to dry up, and some teams that are interested in him may decide that they cannot wait to settle their most important position and move on to other options. So, in your opinion, are the Cowboys “doing right” by Romo or not?
—Joe, Rochester, N.Y.
Joe, I believe it was reporters saying the Cowboys would do right by Romo; I do not think it was Jerry or Stephen Jones who were quoted as saying that. I believe when it’s all over, the Cowboys will do the right thing and release him—if that’s what Romo wants. I still think, as I wrote Monday, that there’s a chance Romo would take a lucrative TV job out there that might not be available if he waits a year or two. Regarding the free-agent money drying up: No chance when it comes to a quarterback who may be the missing piece for a playoff contender. That’s Romo. Houston will find the money if it wants Romo.
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