Archive for March, 2016

SLU Starts New With Ford

Posted in Basketball, Sports with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 31, 2016 by thelegendkil

Photo courtesy of Fox2Now

ST. LOUIS, MO

@thelegendkil

St.Louis University ended their search for a head coach and hired recently dispatched Travis Ford. Ford time ran out while coaching at the University of Oklahoma State for eight seasons. I like the hire of Travis Ford for several reasons. One is he is very familiar with the territory in the region. The Kentucky native started his collegiate career playing for then former Missouri Tigers head coach Norm Stewart for only one season. The 5-foot-9 Ford won Big Eight Freshman of the Year and looked like he was going to be a fixture in the Tigers lineup, but he transferred to his home state school the Kentucky Wildcats. He sat out a year and closed out his collegiate career with back to back SEC Tournament MVP awards. Another reason I think this is a good hire for Saint Louis University is that he knows the Atlantic-10 Conference very well posting a 62-35 record while coaching at UMass for three seasons, which led to him accepting the same position as head coach for the Oklahoma State Cowboys in the Big-12.

Now even though I like the hire doesn’t mean that there aren’t any concerns. While he coached at Oklahoma State his non-conference record was not a pretty sight. He went 55-65 and only once won more than 10 games in a conference. And that one time when he did have over 10 victories his team just unraveled in that 2012-13 season that featured now Boston Celtics point guard Marcus Smart and a very athletic Markel Brown who posterized the Missouri Tigers before they exited the Big-12 and landed in the SEC conference.

The hire of Travis Ford is a big upgrade from now fired coach Jim Crews. It was very painful to watch SLU play basketball under Crews. There is no real description of what of what they were trying to get accomplished on offense. You couldn’t even say they were vanilla on offense, because even vanilla has a flavor. This team labored in half court sets and often looked confused or fearful of taking uncontested shots. No defensive intensity, nothing in transition, and a slam dunk was as common as a Bigfoot sighting. There are plenty of athletes already on the team roster presently, they just need to be coached up better. And I’m interested to see how the adjustment period will be for not just Ford, but for the remaining players and newcomers to the program.

And it sure didn’t take long for some in the St.Louis media to say that he needs to recruit. Really? All coaches have to recruit and that’s something that Ford has. He has that proof of performance when it comes to recruiting. He managed to land some major recruits at his most recent job. I have no doubt that he’ll be able to recruit at SLU, but for the meantime he is what these players need. Plus you have to always keep in mind that sometimes as a coach you can stay at a place to long and the message start getting stale.

The Saint Louis Billikens instantly became more competitive with this hire and the timing of the hire was perfect for SLU. Because, had the Missouri Tigers dispatched Kim Anderson, Ford would’ve made a good fit there for the same reason why I feel he was the right hire in this case. Now SLU have themselves a head coach and the spirit is renewed about the possibility of the program returning to respectability and being taken serious instead of being looked at in such a condescending manner. Maybe even carry the mantle as the top college program in the state of Missouri for the first time since bread was sliced. Especially, with the direction of where NCAA men’s basketball is heading with the rise of Mid-Major schools versus the larger programs with one and done players. Travis Ford needed to have a reboot. And SLU needed a reboot. We’ll see how they start walking in those boots this fall. For more sports, follow me @thelegendkil and @NTheZoneShow.

Photo courtesy of Fox2Now.

It’s Always Been Business – Kroenke Made It Personal: The Unedited Version

Posted in Football, NFL, Sports with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 30, 2016 by thelegendkil

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ST. LOUIS, MO

@thelegendkil

Since the Los Angeles Rams moved west for greener pastures they continue to be the gift that keeps on giving, especially to the city they spent the last 20 years residing. Just recently USA Today’s columnist Luke Kerr-Dineen wrote a column in regards a new billboard in Los Angeles taking a shot at the city of St.Louis. The billboard for those who’ve haven’t seen yet uses the “Greater Than-Less Than” symbols associated with mathematics. Was it a cheap shot? Of course it was, but it’s the world were living in today.

But, the part in USA Today’s columnist Luke Kerr-Dineen article that really stood out was the following sentence. “There comes a certain point where bitter St.Louis fans will have to accept that, regardless of how the deal went down, the team now belongs in Los Angeles.” Now he’s right the Rams definitely belong in Los Angeles. The part where I completely disagree with is his misinterpretation on bitterness. What he and many other that do not reside in the region realize is that the bitterness and hate towards the Rams have zero to do with the players.

The bitterness is towards Rams owner Stan Kroenke who made sure he defecated over the entire region to the point that no other NFL team would even consider moving to St.Louis. He did it in such a manner that even Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis who sports a haircut like famed Three Stooges front man Mo Howard thumbed his nose at the possibility of moving the Oakland Raiders to St.Louis. And to pour salt on a gaping wound Kroenke is trying to get tax credits in city of Maryland Heights, and seriously trying selling Rams Park in Earth City for the low price of a $1. Again nobody faults a person for wanting to make money, but the way he went about it was colder than a mother-in-law kiss. Winning was never a priority, at least not on the field and loyal fans in St.Louis showed up for a team that had only four winning seasons in 20 years in St.Louis. The Rams missed the playoffs 80% of the time while here.

And Kroenke isn’t the only person that is at the root of this feeling of bitterness. Rams COO Kevin Demoff gives several meanings to words like “serpent,” “weasel,” or “fatherless child” as he admitted to be glad the Rams lost four games straight so they could focus on moving instead of getting to the playoffs. Then you toss in the shenanigans by the Rams PR Department that got more than upset at me, because I said in an article last year that Demoff was giving the fans mixed signals. And it turned out to be true the entire time. I still shake my head and think about that day I was at Herbert Hoovers Boys Club and it’s 90 plus degrees and the Community Relations Department is laying sod while Demoff and Kroenke continue their lust for money, with the city of Los Angeles acting as an performance enhancing pharmaceutical product.

I think it’s a little unreasonable to think that fans who did care and that did spend their hard earned money on a product that was basically tanking, not to feel more than just bitter about this. And even for those casual fans or your everyday citizen didn’t like how Kroenke defecated on a market that he does a lot of real estate business in. When the Big Red left for Arizona in 1988 they didn’t keep leaving bird droppings on St.Louis. They moved west and carried on.

It’s business and it’s always been business. Kroenke made it personal no question about that. And that’s something USA Today’s columnist Luke Kerr-Dineen don’t understand. St.Louis is flawed just like many other cities across the country, and some people are just sticking up for their hometown. It’s not bitterness. It’s love for your city and your region.

For more sport content please follow @NTheZoneShow and I can also be found on twitter @thelegendkil.

The View From Mt. Airy

Posted in Baseball, Basketball, Football, Special, Sports with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 26, 2016 by MtAiryPhil

AND NOW…INTRODUCING…THE VIEW FROM MT. AIRY, and here to show you the view, HIS view, Phil Allen.

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PHIL:

That’s right Palmer….warn them……pack that radio in ice…….it’s going to get heated!!! 

Because somebody gotta tell me how, just how, Jose Oquendo is STILL the 3rd base coach after 17 years…..

How about this?

The year Mike Matheny was drafted by the Brewers , Jose hit .291 and played 163 games…… .994 fielding pct. Top 10 in hits, triples and OBP….

Let us not forget he was Whitey Herzog’s “secret weapon” and played 8 positions as a Cardinal in ’87 including throwing 3 shutout innings against the Braves (he lost in the 19th on a double by Ken Griffey, Sr.)

The very week he got the Cardinals 3rd base coaching job, Mike Matheny was released by the Blue Jays, could not hit, average defensive player who couldn’t beat out Darren Fletcher……
Comes to McGwire country and all of a sudden….he’s IRONMAN?

Hmmmmm?

Poor Jose. He stands in the 3rd base box for 14 seasons while Matheny goes to SF as a free agent, retires and is
coaching little league! Yet HE gets the call over Oquendo?

Yeah, let’s talk Cardinals….the conversation, unlike the team, will not be vanilla. See, we pay attention out here to “baseball heaven” and we have watched as the Cardinals have gotten very melanin free over the past decade. The franchise of Gibson, Flood, Brock, Ozzie, “Shake & Bake” McBride, Jeff Leonard, and more has how many black players today?

Hmmmmm?

While we’re asking questions, am I alone when I look at the rise of Oregon Ducks basketball and wonder when the sanctions hit? Ok, the rise of football at OU made them more high profile the resultant publicity aided recruiting and, Voila!!

NOT.

That would be that same program which is currently under investigation again and whose former head coach Charles (Chip) Kelly is banned from coaching in the NCAA for another year, and even then would have to apply for reinstatement? I also give you the Davin Bellamy and a group of coeds cuddled up on a couch with a bong. Prosecution rests with this final statement. I understand when a program lands a 5 star kid who elevates the team to new heights, we love that. An Artis Gilmore here, an Xavier McDaniel there. I get it. However, when you’ve add three or four over an 18 month period, my alarm breaks. Isolated campus plus success should not equal shenanigans but……..

MLB 2016 kicks off in a week. Here in Philly we’ve prepared for the 100 loss death march the Philadelphia Phillies wilk embark upon in April. This is a team in transition (no bullpen, bad outfield, thin starting pitching) and I’ll watch the kids like Mikael Franco and Nick Williams. There is a future here. The good news is the Phillies know there bad. They are offering a monthly pass. Cost $50 and gets you into every home game in April. There are 12, so thats $4.50 per game. Begging the question, would you rather win games at full price or get MLB at 1980 prices?

They should include a heated blanket and brandy for the icebox that Citizens Bank Park is at night until May! But if you are that hearty a soul get yours here. By the way, I heard its the Year of The Cubs? Can it be?

http://m.phillies.mlb.com/tickets/info/spring-pass

and that’s the view from Mt. Airy….

Follow me on Twitter: @MtAiryPhil

Follow N The Zone on Twitter: @NTheZoneShow

Welcome, Phil Allen!

Posted in Special, Sports with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 25, 2016 by MtAiryPhil

cb9f3ea3-fbfe-43ef-840a-ef2d53cb8474The A-Train here. I am very excited because we have added another contributor to the N The Zone family. We are continuing to grow and ready to take on the “City to City, State to State, Worldwide” theme as it’s said on our podcast.

So folks, I present to you Phil Allen! Allen, aka @MtAiryPhil is a long suffering Philadelphia sports junkie, journalist and broadcaster who spent nearly a decade as the Eagles postgame show host, and ESPN RADIO Philly weekend studio host. He is also a special contributor at 900AM WURD and was featured in E-A-G-L-E-S The Movie!

But enough about that, I’ll let him do the talking for sure.  Take it, Phil.

PHIL ALLEN:

Excited? Yup! Intimidated? Little bit. I mean, it’s the A-Train, Arlington Lane and a brother aptly named the “Legend Killer” Palmer Alexander, whom I watched hold the St. Louis Rams front office, the City Council, and pretty much all of Missouri’s feet to the fire as the process that culminated in the Rams exodus to LA played itself out. Finally, it’s in N The Zone Radio/Podcast and as a listener, I can hear the coals roasting (along with some guests) on the fire. Let’s keep it 100, I can’t wait. I’m honored to contribute to N The Zone.

So what do I bring? I don’t know. The pain of a lifetime waiting for a Super Bowl Champion? 42 years without a Stanley Cup Title? Season tickets to an NBA team currently 9-62 that is 33 years removed from it’s last parade?

Here’s what I know for sure. We will create broadcasts that are memorable, informative, and I believe, have the air of a world heavyweight title match in the moments when the ring is empty, and the combatants stand poised in the entryway, awaiting music, pyrotechnics, and the dulcet tones of Michael Buffer.

The Sound of Philadelphia meets the Blues of St. Louis…the East Coast rat race merged with the Midwestern drawl and the history shared by Eagles-Cardinals long time rivalry, the recent detonation of Phillies baseball dreams by the DeScalsos’, Ecksteins’, Schumakers’ plus a heaping dose of Chris Carpenter.

I could go on. I won’t.

The Train Report (Throwback Edition): The 1996 St. Louis Cardinals

Posted in Baseball, Sports, St. Louis Cardinals, St. Louis Sports with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 22, 2016 by A-Train

gary-gaetti-hits-grand-slam-1996

(@TheATrainSTL)

St. Louis, MO

In this edition of “The Train Report,” let’s take Cardinal fans back to 1996. The year when the Tony LaRussa era began and the Ozzie Smith era ended. Background first, my story second.

THE BACKGROUND:

Let’s take you back to 1995 when the baseball strike ended and the season was shorten. The Cardinals finished a pitiful 62-81. Joe Torre’s future was freed up after the first 47 games and Mike Jorgensen took over the last 96 games. Torre then went to the New York Yankees and won 4 World Series titles. YIKES. The first, during the ’96 season. DOUBLE YIKES.

They saw the retirements of long-timer Jose Oquendo and Tom Henke, who was an All-Star and the Rolaids Relief Man Of The Year award winner.

The Cardinals said goodbye to Todd Zeile, who was already traded to the Chicago Cubs during the season and hometown guy Bernard Gilkey, who was traded to the New York Mets in the offseason and wound up having a career year in 1996. Not to mention, the funny cameo role he had in the first “Men In Black” movie.

The ace of the staff was Mark Petkovsek…EXACTLY. Mark Petkovsek. Say that name, three times fast. No starter on that staff had double digit wins. Henke (36 saves), along with the trio outfield of Gilkey (.298, 17 HR, 61 RBI), Ray Lankford (.277, 25 HR, 82 RBI) and Brian Jordan (.296, 22 HR, 81 RBI) were the only bright spots. But that team stunk and was in dire need of change.

That offseason brought such change. Bill DeWitt, Jr. bought the team from the Anheuser-Busch family. General manager Walt Jocketty said no to interim manager Mike Jorgensen and got former Oakland A’s skipper Tony LaRussa. Huge move. LaRussa then added Ron Hassey, Tommie Reynolds, Dave McKay, hitting coach George Hendrick and pitching coach Dave Duncan.

The Cardinals would add veterans Ron Gant, Gary Gaetti, and Dennis Eckersley. It also saw the returns of hometown favorite Willie McGee and Luis Alicea. Not to mention, the Cardinals went out and nabbed starters Andy Benes and Todd Stottlemyre. But there was one move that stuck during that season that caused riff between a manager and a player.

Royce Clayton.

Why him you ask?

Well here is what I know:

Clayton was a young shortstop that had average speed and average defense. Also, there was Mr. Smith. Smith had announced that it was his last season and wanted to have a great sendoff by being the starter. LaRussa had both shortstops, one young, one not so young compete for the starting job. Now many believe that LaRussa already knew who he had in mind to start. Smith had the better spring at the plate and played way better defense than Clayton (who had 8 errors in the spring)…and didn’t win the starting job. LaRussa chose Clayton. Smith, of course, was unhappy with the move because he felt he was in great shape to start the season, even at the ripe old age of 41. Now the many stories I have heard about the Smith/LaRussa are crazy. But if you want to delve into that, check out this article in 2011 from Howard Friend at Bleacher Report about the Smith/LaRussa feud.

The team started off bad and looked like they were headed to the bottom of the Central Division. By the end of May, they were in 2nd with a 22-29 record. Then a 6-game winning streak put them in 1st during June. After flip-flopping from 1st and 2nd, by the All-Star break they landed back on top. The Cardinals let a 4-game lead slip away by late July and found themselves tied. They would go back and forth with the Houston Astros in August until the lead went to 2.5 games for Houston. By early September, in the midst of a winning streak, the Cardinals took the division lead and wouldn’t give it up and won it.

THE PARTS THAT I REMEMBER THE MOST:

At age 12, I can remember the Cardinals clinching the National League Central for the first time while in Pittsburgh. Eckersley pumped his right fist as the players ran out on to the mound in celebration at old Three Rivers Stadium. They looked primed and ready for the postseason.

That year they got in the postseason and played the San Diego Padres and NL MVP Ken Caminiti. Speaking of Caminiti, I was shocked when he passed in 2004, but wasn’t surprised that he took steroids in his ’96 MVP season. He had a monster year and a monster series against the Cardinals. However, they were swept in three games. Good riddance. Uber excitement, at this point the Cardinals hadn’t been to the LCS in 9 seasons. I was geeked and excited.

In the NLCS they went against the Atlanta Braves, the previous season’s World Champions. I felt pretty good that they could beat them and I was nervous in all seven games of the series because anyone of them could be a complete turning point.

First game was in Atlanta at old Fulton-County Stadium, and they got beat 4-2. Bullpen couldn’t keep the game tied and Benes did the best he could to hold the Braves. They lost the game in the 8th inning thanks to 2 runs given up by Petkovsek. Not a huge deal but still they were down 1 game.

Still had some confidence that the Cardinals could do some damage in Game 2. It damn sure was a tight one when it got to the 7th. With the score 4-3 and the bases loaded, Gaetti unloaded a deep drive off starter Greg Maddux. Gaetti was 38 and nearing the end of his career. The previous year with the Royals he hit 35 home runs, and the Cardinals hoped that he could gave that power he had in KC and bring it down Interstate 70. He wound up with 23 in the season. This grand slam gave the Cardinals an 8-3 lead, to which they would hold on to that final score and even up the series.

As happy as I was, I was still nervous because it was the Atlanta Braves. I hated the Braves. At that point, they had reach the postseason every year (except the 1994 strike).

The last thing I wanted to see was an NL team, MY team, defeat them in the NLCS.

Game 3 back in St. Louis was LIVE. No I wasn’t there at Busch Stadium II but watching that game, it was a damn good feeling to see the Cardinal fans electric in an afternoon game. It was surely a great feeling for Gant, hitting 2 home runs off future Hall-of-Famer Tom Glavine was epic. The excitement on his face as he trotted around the bases. It was like he wanted pure revenge on the Braves. I wanted that for him too. Gant had already participated in 2 World Series with the Braves, so his presence with the Cardinals meant that playoff experience was on deck. He won the game by himself with 3 RBIs in a 3-2 Game 3 victory.

The next game was probably one of the best playoff games I had ever watched at that point. Although, the Birds were down 3-0 going into the bottom of the 7th, a player I had never seen before on the team, Dmitri Young came to the dish with two men on base.

Young kid, big stage. He would falter right?

No, he didn’t.

Young hit a triple off Braves reliever Greg McMichael and drove in both runs to narrow the Braves lead to 1. Clayton would then knock in Young to tie the game at 3. Busch II was rocking high. In the bottom of the 8th, Jordan sent a deep drive off McMichael to give the Cardinals the lead. Eckersley, who already came in the top half, shut down the Braves in the 9th to earn the win and a 3-1 series lead. The excitement I had that night would be the last excitement I would have for the rest of the series.

In the next three games, the Braves’ bats not only woke up…they never went back to sleep. The Cardinals’ bats literally died. I hoped so bad that they would get to their first World Series in 9 seasons, so I could see the excitement that the older generations got to see. Those dreams died the minute Game 5 started.

Game 5, 14-0 Braves. A complete ass whipping in a potential clincher. I was mad, but not angry. The Cardinals were still up 3 games to 2.

Then…

Game 6, a 3-1 defeat. Doesn’t seem like a lot, right? But that game was bad. Pretty damn bad. It set up a Game 7, which is very exciting but sets up a possible collapse by the Cardinals.

That wouldn’t happen, right?

Game 7, 15-0 Braves. Another complete ass whipping in a potential clincher. I remember my father enjoying every minute of that. I had a headache literally while watching that debacle. It was unreal. Catcher Javy Lopez was LCS MVP. The heavily favored Braves, who were on the brink of elimination, came back and won those last 3 games to take the series and face the New York Yankees. The Yankees would prevail in six games. Good that the Braves lost but ouch that Torre won. It would have definitely made for an epic series if the Cardinals got there. But they didn’t.

If you had kept count of those last three games of the ’96 NLCS, the grand total of runs the Cardinals had was…1. That’s right, 1 run.

But it wasn’t meant to be, it gave us hope that they could do it again. But they wouldn’t get back to the postseason for another 4 seasons. However some excitement back 2 years later…some guy named McGwire took the baseball world by storm. (This was before the steroid stories broke)

But that’s how the 1996 Cardinals season was for me. I can’t believe that was literally 20 years ago. It brought a lot of highs and some lows, and believe it or not, that was the last time LaRussa ever faced a 3-1 collapse in his tenure with the Cardinals.

Coming up on the next “Train Report,” I’ll take you to the 2001 St. Louis Cardinals, where it featured the surprising rookie debut of one Albert Pujols.

Keep taking the A-Train. Drop a comment if you like.

Follow me on Twitter @TheATrainSTL

AND…

Follow N The Zone on Twitter @NTheZoneShow

10 For Tuesday: Rams’ Demoff Further Exposed

Posted in Los Angeles Rams, NFL, Randy Karraker, Sports, St. Louis Rams, Stan Kroenke with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 15, 2016 by Shane Gray

DemoffRams(St. Louis, MO)

@RealShaneGray

By now, many of you have likely either watched or heard quite a bit about the head-scratching, mind-boggling presentation that Los Angeles Rams Chief Operating Offender Kevin Demoff made at Harvard-Westlake High School on March 1.

Unfortunately, if you missed the video and want to see it, Demoff has apparently had his infamous, boneheaded speech pulled, after several comments he made were strongly scrutinized in articles by the likes of The Sporting News’ Ron Clements, InsideSTL’s Tim McKernan and 101 ESPN’s Randy Karraker as well as in audio by 101 ESPN’s Bernie Miklasz, among others.

In other news regarding the Rams’ great deceiver, Demoff spent time this weekend speaking at the South by Southwest conference about “the intersection of personal ethics, fandom and commerce in sports.”

Yes, you read that correctly.

The same man who quite obviously has no appreciation or understanding of proper personal ethics and who blatantly lied to his fans repeatedly was invited to speak about “the intersection of personal ethics, fandom and commerce in sports.”

You can’t make this stuff up.

If Demoff’s speech was honest, this appearance would have consisted of him talking about how he believes that any respect towards personal ethics or fans should be tossed out and stomped on if needed when “commerce in sports” is involved.

With that said, today’s “10 for Tuesday”…

 

1. Some people want the N The Zone family to continue talking about the Rams, while others want us to stop talking about the *%$#*@-up franchise altogether. I can see both sides.

With that said, the above is new information and — I for one — will continue to report anything that exposes Demoff for the deceptive, dishonest, slimy human being that he has proven himself to be. Consider it a warning for our L.A. brethren and appropriate reporting for the STL family.

So, if you don’t want to see it, you’re on the wrong site. On the other hand, if you want to see Demoff called out for his lies and exposed for all the damage he helped bring to St. Louis and the fans here, then you’re exactly where you need to be.

2. In Demoff’s aforementioned presentation, he made it clear that the move to L.A. was in the works for two-and-a-half years prior to its approval. In other words, the Rams began plotting for relocation by at least the Summer of 2013 when Sellout Stan Kroenke called Demoff about the Inglewood site.

3. Additionally, Demoff detailed how the Rams were quietly but earnestly making moves towards the move by the Spring of 2014 and that they were “stealthily” working hard towards an L.A. stadium in the summer of that same year.

4. Points two and three — like the Rams relocation proposal — add more proof that Demoff was lying to St. Louis since — at least — roughly the close of the dome’s arbitration case in early 2013. When looking at points two and three, these words from 2014 — among many others you can find here from both 2013 and 2014 — look particularly pitiful:

Demoff (to InsideSTL)

“I expect it (our future) will be right here in St. Louis. I don’t see any reason that that can’t be so.”

“I promise you Stan is looking at lots of pieces of land around the world right now and none of them are for football stadiums.”

Demoff (to 101ESPN):

“..I know everybody can sit here and say, especially this weekend, “The building can rock like it did in 1999,” which is absolutely true. If we play better football, it will be loud, passionate. But in terms of getting people off the couch away from television which is a fight that everybody in the NFL is going through and everybody in sports is going through, how do we improve the fan experience and give them the best? I think that’s the solution. If we can come up with it whether it’s downtown, whether it’s in the county, whether it’s somewhere else, I think we’d be in favor of it.”

Demoff October 2014 (CBS Sports 920’s McKernan, Edmonds & Moe):

“I think when he (Kroenke) said what he said (about wanting Rams to stay) when he bought the team, he was sincere, he was genuine and in the meantime there’s a path and a process that’s behind closed doors, and that’s what we’ve adapted to.”

“It’s hard to believe now but the Seattle Seahawks actually moved to Los Angeles for about two weeks in 1996 before returning back to Seattle. I don’t think anybody now looks at their fanbase and says they’re not passionate, they’re not a great team, that’s not a great market. So these things tend to get worse before they get better and I always look at if we can get this thing done, how do we move forward, how do we build a great stadium, how do we make St. Louis a better place for having a great venue?”

5. Clearly, Demoff served as Chief B.S.er in St. Louis, along with his duties as Vice President of Football Operations. And while were on the football side, Demoff also let this gem slip out at his presentation at Westlake-Harvard, via Turf Show Times:

“I will say, we’ve been really crappy in free agency. I’ve written a lot of bad deals. We just haven’t found a lot of success in free agency. And so I think there’s a buyer beware in all of that, in terms of going out and buying other people’s players, that we just haven’t figured out.”

There are clearly a lot of things that Demoff and the Rams haven’t figured out on the field, as evidenced by there historically poor performance over the last decade-plus. But for Demoff to admit that they aren’t being aggressive in free agency due, in part, to them not having the confidence to believe they are capable of getting it right… well… that is stunning.

I mean, everyone who’s followed the Rams in recent years realizes they aren’t getting it right and haven’t for some time, but for the team’s COO to admit that they are basically inept in regard to free agency is eye-opening and scary.

Best of luck with that, Los Angeles. You sure as heck will need it with Kroenke, Demoff and company at the helm.

6. Demoff’s presentation also revealed that when then Rams quarterback Sam Bradford was knocked out for the year in the preseason of 2014, that he welcomed a “distraction” from the on-field “trainwreck” that was likely to come.

I have to wonder what current players or former Rams like Chris Long or James Laurinaitis think knowing their top executive — and who knows who else in the organization or on the coaching staff — had given up on the season before it even started. I have to think they aren’t very appreciative of the thoughts.

Either way, the comments vividly show that Demoff possesses quite the loser’s mentality, giving up on his team before the season even began. What a competitive fighter to lead the organization from the top, right? And you wonder why the Rams haven’t had a winning season since 2003? With leadership like this, don’t much to change for the Rams on the field other than the stadium and the city the team plays within.

7. Along the same lines, Demoff essentially shared that he was thankful that the Rams fell out of the playoff race late in 2015 so that he could concentrate more on the franchise’s reLIEcation application.

What a slap in the face to the hard-working, paying customers buying tickets in St. Louis and the players who put their bodies on the lines on the gridiron. Yet another example of the classlessness at the top of the Rams organization.

8. With all of the above in mind, I wonder how many season ticket holders out there have emails from 2013-2015 from Demoff? I know that many do, as he was quite interactive with fans and media during many stretches. I would love to see ’em.

9. On another note, we would love to have your feedback on what you think of the N The Zone Show. Tweet @RealShaneGray, @thelegendkil, @TheATrainSTL or @NTheZoneShow to provide us with your feedback and we will try to respond to everyone’s thoughts and opinions.

10. Finally, a little late on this, but excited to see St. Louis land an NHL Winter Classic game for 2017 against the Chicago Blackhawks. The Blues and Cardinals worked in conjunction to bring this to pass. Good to have a couple of civic-minded professional organizations in town working together to bring great events to the STL.

Thanks for reading…

 

Thursday’s Thoughts

Posted in Football, NCAA Football, NFL, Sports with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 10, 2016 by Shane Gray

janorisjenkins-

(St. Louis, MO)

by @RealShaneGray

-I was happy to see former University of Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel agree to terms yesterday on a three year, $21 million dollar contract with the Philadelphia Eagles that includes $12 million in guaranteed cash. This is Daniel’s second significant “second string” contract of his career — after just finishing a three year, $10 million dollar deal with the Kansas City Chiefs where he served as a backup to Alex Smith.

Considering Daniel’s sizable contract in relation to his professional resume, ESPN’s Adam Schefter was right in pointing out that the former Mizzou standout will receive at least a puncher’s chance to win the Eagles starting quarterback job over incumbent QB Sam Bradford — who somehow recently reeled in a 2 year, $35 million dollar deal to remain in Philadelphia.

Furthermore, this move puts Daniel in position to potentially land at least a handful of starts in 2016 due to injury, considering the fragile history of Bradford, a player who has missed 33 of 96 pro starts due to injury — or over two full season’s worth of games in six years.

With all that said, however, I can’t help but wonder whether a delay of another 24 hours might have left Daniel with an almost ideal opportunity with the Denver Broncos after the Super Bowl winning franchise lost Peyton Manning to retirement and free agent Brock Osweiler to the Houston Texans.

Had Daniel remained on the market, you have to wonder if John Elway and company might have took a hard look at Daniel few relatively few appealing options available on the free agent market.

With the QB spot wide open in Denver, an exceptional D in place, a more-than-capable stable of running backs in the fold and some very good pass catchers under contract, a chance to lead the offense in the Mile High City would present a great opportunity for a quarterback this fall.

Considering how everything has played out, I can’t help but wonder if Daniel could have at least ended up being in the mix and with a chance to earn a starting gig had he signed on in Denver.

-Folks can spin it however they want to, but the Rams loss of cornerback Janoris Jenkins to the New York Giants is a significant one. At 27, Jenkins was entering his prime and coming off what was clearly his best all-around season to date.

Sure, there is a shot that former Mizzou Tigers corner E.J. Gaines can get back to full strength following a season ending injury last year and build upon a very stout 2014 rookie campaign, but there is no guarantee this will occur.

Gaines indeed had a very impressive rookie season, but even if he proves to be as good in 2016 as Jenkins was a year ago, the Rams lost high-quality depth at a position that absolutely demands depth and lots of in today’s pass-proficient NFL.

So, even if Gaines proves to be an adequate replacement for Jenkins opposite of franchise-tagged Trumaine Johnson, Los Angeles lost quality depth that will likely be much harder to replace than most wish to admit.

Beyond Jenkins, the Rams also lost starting free safety Rodney McLeod, who had grown into a solid player in Gregg Williams’ defense. With Williams running something of a unique, hybird D, replacing a solid veteran like McLeod may be easier said than done.

In total, a good-to-great 2015 Rams defense is now minus half of its starting secondary from a season ago. People can act as if that isn’t a big deal, but it is.

Beyond that, the Rams are now down nearly 50 percent of last season’s first string defense when counting the cuts of defensive end Chris Long and middle linebacker James Laurinaitis.

Yes, Long’s production had dropped off and Laurinaitis had his flaws. And yes, both are replaceable — especially on the field — and even upgradeable.

On the other hand, Laurinaitis ran and quarterbacked the St. Louis D for seven seasons and both J.L. and Long both served as key leaders in the Rams locker room.

The stat sheet is one thing, but the intangibles are another — and both Long and Laurinaitis brought a great deal of desirable intangibles to the franchise that aren’t always easy to replace.

Can the Rams defense be as good as it was a year ago?

Yes, it can, as they will have defensive end Robert Quinn back in top form, a deep, talented defensive line that includes defensive tackle Aaron Donald and re-signed defensive end William Hayes and potential improvement in the middle, where former outside ‘backer Alec Ogletree is expected to take over — something he has experience doing from his SEC days at the University of Georgia.

The Rams also return one of the game’s best strong safeties — T.J. McDonald — and re-signed small but highly-productive outside linebacker Mark Barron. If he can hold up at 210 pounds — which is a legitimate if — then the Rams could be formidable at linebacker.

With all of that considered, the departures of Jenkins and McLeod in free agency — and particularly Jenkins — wasn’t a small thing. This pair was productive and likely will not be easily replaced.

There’s a reason that most top-tier defenses lock up their in-prime defenders. The Rams are gambling that they can plug-and-play others and be fine. But for me, they will have to prove they can do it before I believe it.

-On the other side of the ball, I think the Rams made smart moves in bringing back center Tim Barnes (yet another former Missouri Tiger stalwart finding his way into this article) and 6’4″ wide receiver Brian Quick — who was on his way to a breakout campaign in 2014 before suffering a season ending injury midway through the year.

With a full offseason without a major surgery to recover from ahead of him, can Quick get it going in 2016? In my mind, he can. And if I’m right, it will give a big boost to a Rams offense that needs the passing game to get a lot better this fall than it has been in recent seasons.

-Speaking of wide receivers, former Detroit Lions receiver Calvin Johnson hung up the cleats early at age 30 and walked away from a whole lot of paper in retiring during the past week.

At 6’5″ and with great speed to go with it — especially a little earlier in his career — Johnson was pretty much unstoppable when at his best. Johnson was not only a great player, but, from all indications, a good man as well.

It is amazing that one organization — the Lions — have now watched two all-time greats retire while at or near their prime, after seeing running back Barry Sanders walk away at the top of his game in 1998. How unlucky is Detroit, anyhow?

In that farewell year, Sanders compiled 1,491 rushing yards, 37 catches and four touchdowns.

— Thanks for reading….

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