Archive for January, 2018

All Eyes On Vince

Posted in Football, Special, Sports, Wrestling with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 28, 2018 by ALNTheZone

Vince McMahon w/ WWE championship belt

@TheATrainSTL

Vince McMahon knows how to get the attention. 

The chairman of the WWE couldn’t have picked a better week to get the national attention in sports. 

There was RAW’s 25th anniversary show on Monday night that featured great memories and nostalgic moments. (Aside from the following Tuesday’s Smackdown and Wednesday’s NXT events) Not to mention having the anniversary show in not one, but TWO venues with the Barclays Center and the original home of “Monday Night RAW,” the Manhattan Center. The eyes were on Vince. 

Then on Thursday afternoon, the long-awaited announcement from Vince on the return of the XFL, or as I previously stated, “The Rebirth.” Maybe it wasn’t that long (it was made in November), but it damn sure felt that way. Again Vince had the eyes for that one because pro football is a little vulnerable right now with the fallout of politics being entered into the game. Vince gave a basic overview on what to look forward to in the new league. NO GIMMICKS, NO POLITICS, JUST FOOTBALL. Again, the eyes were on Vince.

Then last night, WWE began another weekend of action with its brand NXT and its “Takeover” in Philadelphia. 5 stellar matches including the brand’s top championship match in which the champion Andrade “Cien” Almas retained against challenger Johnny Gargano. I must say that was one helluva match. It entertained from the start of the match to the end of it. I have watched a couple of these NXT pay-per-views and each time I enjoyed it. I need to start watching more of the brand. Again, eyes were on Vince. 

Then Sunday night, WWE capped it off in Philadelphia with the 2018 Royal Rumble with a history-in-the-making match. For the 1st time, a Rumble had 30 women compete and one of them (Asuka was the winner) will get the opportunity for a Women’s Title shot at Wrestlemania in April. Along with 8 other matches, that included the Men’s Royal Rumble match (Shinsuke Nakamura won and announced that he would fight AJ Styles for the WWE Championship at Wrestlemania)…once again the eyes were on Vince. 

Ronda Rousey

NOW, I understand that the Grammys took place at the same time but that did not stop Vince from banking in on the ones that truly watch his promotion. Especially when his promotion grabbed MAJOR news headlines when UFC fighter Ronda Rousey showed up at the end of the Royal Rumble pay-per-view which then prompted “The Worldwide Leader In Sports” to announce that she had signed with Vince’s promotion and participate full-time. 

Vince couldn’t have planned this past week any better. 

 

The A-Train

 

NOTE: If you read this and notice that I have used McMahon’s first name, it’s only for the sake of this piece.

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The Rebirth

Posted in Football, Special, Sports with tags , , , , , , on January 26, 2018 by ALNTheZone

@TheATrainSTL

8 teams. 10 games. 40 players. 2020.

What does these numbers equate to?

It’s the rebirth of the XFL.

Yes, folks. It’s coming back. And this time it looks completely legit. At least that is what it looked like from the formal press conference that Vince McMahon put out at Thursday afternoon at 3pm Eastern standard time. My interests for the revival, or reboot, have truly piqued.

Now, I don’t know who the teams are, or where they will play, or who’s going to be in it. Because it’s really starting from scratch. With this formal announcement, this is going to be a different product from the one that McMahon put out in 2001.

I must say, McMahon is really going for the “fan approach.” He wants to hear the thoughts and ideas from the fans so the league can prosper.

Vince McMahon, XFL Founder

I happened to watch the presser and he dismissed that there will be no WWE crossovers. XFL 2 and WWE are separate entities and will not coexist. So no Jim Ross, which really stinks, because he loves football and he can announce a football game like he did with XFL 1 back in ‘01. None of your favorite wrestlers, past or present. NO WWE in this rebirth. McMahon also said that he won’t even be the frontman for the league, which gives indication that will be a new face this time running the show. McMahon is the founder but will be behind the scenes. That’s a plus. Because back in 2001, he looked like he didn’t know what he was doing and the product was rushed. 

McMahon also said that politics will NOT be in this league and that players WILL stand for the anthem. Along with, former players that have had criminal records can NOT play in XFL 2. I found that to be extreme, maybe a zero tolerance policy and give players a second chance, but those are his rules and regulations. He wants a clean-cut league. He also did not mention anything about being a competitor to the NFL. 

As of now, no media outlets have been announced, but McMahon said that some outlets have taken interest in the new league. That’s a given. He gave the year 2020 because he believes that it will take 2 years to get everything needed for it.  

What got me is that when the announcement was made in November 2017 (Brad Shepard was the first who broke the story), he had put down $100 million (round or about) into this new league (the entity is Alpha Entertainment, LLC) and just let the rumors fly. He also got the people’s attention significantly. Instantly, abandoned NFL cities began to talk about the potential of a team being located within XFL 2, especially St. Louis. As of now, the city of St. Louis has filed a lawsuit against Stan Kroenke in federal court over relocation. Other cities like San Diego and Oakland (Raiders will be in Las Vegas by the year 2020) will be possibly looked as an XFL city. However, all of the teams will be owned and ran by McMahon because of it being a single-entity league. 

I had been looking forward to this day, and honestly, he didn’t disappoint me. He gave generalized answers during his Q&A portion, but it didn’t matter. He looks at it as: No gimmicks, no politics, just football. There will be a lot of questions surrounding the league in the upcoming weeks and months up until 2020. Our team will do our best to cover the angles as best as possible. 

In case you missed it, you can check out the official presser at the link below. 

A-Train

 

Elite NFL Quaterbacks

Posted in Eagles, Football, Los Angeles Rams, NFL, Sports with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 24, 2018 by Ashley Wright

Eli Manning, Tom Brady, and Ben Roethlisberger

Ashley Wright 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sportswithashley/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SportWithAshley

The quarterback position is one of the most challenging and vital positions in the NFL. It may also be one of the most analyzed positions. Arguably, the greatest debate that surrounds the quarterback is what makes them elite. Household names such as Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers have almost become immune to the debate however other quarterbacks such as Eli Manning and Joe Flacco have been questioned about their elite status.

When Philadelphia Eagles QB Carson Wentz suffered an ACL tear in a Week 13 win against the Los Angeles Rams many people thought their Super Bowl LII hopes were out of reach, some even thought they would lose the game. Nevertheless, Nick Foles stepped in and shocked majority of NFL fans. Not only did he win the game in Los Angeles but he has led the Eagles to Minneapolis where they will face Tom Brady and the Patriots in Super Bowl LII.

In Minnesota Case Keenum took the place of Sam Bradford who suffered a knee injury in Week 1. Keenum may have had the most shocking success in the NFL this season. He led the Vikings to a 13-3 record, and the NFC championship game. The story here is without Nick Foles stepping into Carson Wentz’s place, and without Case Keenum filling in for Sam Bradford the Eagles and Vikings probably would not have enjoyed so much success. Is it possible that their incredible seasons now make them elite quarterbacks? Many NFL fans think Carson Wentz deserves to be in NFL MVP talks but what has he accomplished other than winning a divisional championship?

In the case of the proven quarterback such as Eli Manning, what does it take to make him elite? He is top ten in multiple categories including fourth quarter comebacks, touchdown passes, and passes completed. Manning also has four Pro Bowl selections, two Super Bowl rings with MVP honors to match them both, and he beat conceivably the best quarterback ever in Tom Brady in both championship seasons as a wild card in the playoffs. Even with all of his accomplishments he is oftentimes snubbed on elite quarterback lists. Joe Flacco is also a proven quarterback who is underappreciated when it comes to elite quarterback talk.  Flacco is a Super Bowl winning quarterback and I can see the argument coming in saying, “well the Raven’s defense carried Flacco to the Super Bowl.” If you look at the numbers, it isn’t true at all. When the Ravens won the Super Bowl in 2013, their defense ranked in the middle of the league. They were 17th in yards per game, 10th in yards per play, and 20th in rushing yards per game. The Ray Lewis retirement journey may have been a major highlight, but Flacco played his best football during that playoff stretch. He finished the playoffs with 11 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. Joe Montana is the only other quarterback to do that. I am not saying Flacco is the best quarterback, but he was the main reason the Ravens got to and won the Super Bowl. Granted he has not played nearly as good since his Super Bowl win but he has been riddled by injury much of the time.

So what does it take for a quarterback to be considered elite? Super Bowl wins? Touchdown passes? Conference championships? Individual records? Whatever it is…many deserving quarterbacks get overlooked when it comes to the debate.

A New “Frontiere” In St. Louis, A “Kroenke” Ending

Posted in Los Angeles Rams, Rams, Sports, St. Louis Rams, Stan Kroenke with tags , , , , , , on January 24, 2018 by derekkingsports

Georgia Frontiere and Stan Kroenke

@DerekKingSports

After the failed expansion attempts in STL for a new a NFL franchise, city leaders were pushing hard for a reward after piling millions into the nearly open TWA Dome.

Georgia Frontiere was looking for greener pastures out of LA because she couldn’t get a stadium deal done. During the ’94 season the Rams became a lame duck in LA. Attendance tanked, fans tuned out, they saw the writing on the wall. They all knew what was coming and they didn’t even put up a fight (except for a slight few) to try and keep the team. The Rams made an initial attempt to move out of LA which was disapproved by the NFL owners. Then when STL officials were given the go ahead by city leadership to everything necessary to land a franchise in STL they went all out and sold their soul in the process.

Sad thing is and this is just my opinion, St. Louis already had the Rams if they had made a better attempt at negotiating the lease with the Rams, instead they gave up the farm in order to land a team that could’ve been theirs for a lot less than the sweetheart deal that was given. St. Louis payed $15 million in relocation fees, The Rams got a $260 million dollar stadium, a $15 million dollar practice facility in Earth City and a $250,000 yearly lease, St. Louis also ate the Rams’ $30 million debt to LA and all this to land a team in the Lou.

As you can see everybody’s good old buddy Georgia that so desperately wanted to come home to STL to save Football was a farce. She made millions in the process of coming “home” the Rams went from operating at a $9 million dollar loss a year in LA to a $20 million dollar profit a year in STL. Say it ain’t so Georgia! Oh, it be so! So after the slam dunk of expansion just kissed off the rim, officials gave away the farm for magic beans that barely grew and were half rotten.

Enter Kroenke

In ’95 when the team moved Georgia sold a 40% stake in the team to Stanley Enos Kroenke the wealthy real estate tycoon hailing from Columbia, Mo.

He bought the 40% stake for, get this, $60 million. That’s right, you read that correctly. Then when the unfortunate passing of majority owner Georgia Frontiere passed away from cancer in 2008 the Rosenbloom children became de facto owners of a team they didn’t want. They started shopping the team and Shahid Khan places the winning bid to buy the team, but OUTTA NOWHERE COMES STAN KROENKE!!! He put the kibosh on Khan’s attempt to buy the team and exercised his right of first refusal which was in his contract when he bought his 40% share. He purchased the remainder of the Rams for $450 million. If you do the math he’s in to the tune of $510 million on a franchise value at the time in 2010 of $750 million. He knew he was going to move then if not planning contingencies before the fact.

Kroenke was in this for the long haul. He was in this like an investment property, knowing it would triple in value if he moved it to LA LA Land and then he be rolling in it.

Just think of it this way, if it wasn’t for all those untold millions and millions that the Rams made off of the backs of taxpayers they probably wouldn’t have ever sniffed a Super Bowl, let alone make it to the playoffs. That influx of ministry support is what made it float, and when the lake dried up, they pulled anchor and sailed out of town back to LA.

So who was Frontiere? Savior? Money grabber?

What was Kroenke? The Grinch That Stole Football? Ebenezer Scrooge? That piece of food stuck between your teeth?

Frontiere did bring football back to St. Louis albeit selling her soul, or 40% to the devil to get it, well, maybe devil is a little harsh…..then again, no it isn’t.

Thanks for reading.

Derek King

N The Zone Network contributor

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly: How St. Louis Lost, Won, and suffered from the NFL ’89-’94

Posted in Football, NFL, Sports, St. Louis Cardinals, St. Louis Sports, Stan Kroenke with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 14, 2018 by derekkingsports

@DerekKingSports

Where do you want to start?

Where do you end?

It just seem that for the great people of St. Louis, it never began or ended. So lets start at the beginning, of the end (the first time).

1988, William “Bill” Bidwell wants out of St. Louis, the town he’s called home since 1960, filing for relocation with the league. On March 15th 1988 the NFL voted to allow the St. Louis Cardinals to relocate to Phoenix, Arizona putting the final coffin nail in the franchises 28 year history in St. Louis. The vote was 26-2 with the now Los Angeles Raiders and Miami Dolphins abstaining. Both Al Davis and Joe Robbie were against the measure for their own reasons.

Davis was still engulfed in a legal battle with the NFL over his ill-advised move into the greater Los Angeles area. and due to the aforementioned legal issues with the league, Davis decided it was best to abstain from the vote, but he wasn’t all too thrilled about the matter.

Source: New York Times

 “It’s all a sham. They vote any way they want and allow anyone they want to move.” Al Davis

Joe Robbie was good friends with Joe Foss, former American Football League commissioner who represented a Phoenix group spent $2 million in a failed attempt to bring an expansion team to Phoenix.

The NFL as a group wasn’t enthralled about the idea of letting the Cardinals move to Phoenix either. The league would have preferred a move to Baltimore as the Phoenix area was looked at as an excellent candidate for expansion, this was all going down long after the Irsay-Rosenbloom debacle in 1972 which the Rams and Colts franchises were traded with their respective owners. That’s another story for another day.

St. Louis Expansion attempt

Jerry Clinton, Former Grey Eagle Distributors owner, who as part owner in the St. Louis Blues and St. Louis Steamers indoor soccer team, Mr. Clinton, told Civic Progress members over breakfast at the Bogey Club of their plans to build a new stadium and bring a new football team to St. Louis. On Feb. 27, 1989, they formed the St. Louis NFL Partnership.

Source: St. Louis Post Dispatch 

 

Mr. Clinton said it had been easy to raise money to buy a team. That turned out to be an exaggeration.

The partnership mailed a prospectus to local entrepreneurs asking for $250,000 each. They got just one solid commitment.

Meanwhile, Mr. Clinton was lending his partner money. “He had no other source of income. … He had to have living expenses,” Mr. Clinton explained.

The two partners lobbied the Missouri Legislature to approve financing to build a stadium-convention center they said would be self-supporting.

The legislation passed but never was used for the stadium. Instead, the city, county and state are paying the tab.

Mr. Clinton lobbied the NFL for an expansion franchise. He even signed a lease for his team to play at St. Louis’ new downtown domed stadium.

As most can see it was a very convoluted series of events. the original group lead by Mr. Clinton and James Busch Orthwein was stalling financially where as Orthwien couldn’t sell his team New England Patriots so he stepped aside allowing Stanley Enos Kroenke to be added to the group. Clinton made a bold move, he left the group and then teamed with a competing group lead by Fran Murray

Source: New York Times, FRANK LITSKY

Although Clinton’s group seems out of the picture, Fran Murray, an entrepreneur and a former minority owner of the Patriots, said yesterday he had taken over as majority general partner of the group. Last week, Orthwein dismissed a proposal by Murray to exchange 100 percent of the Patriots for 66 percent of a new St. Louis franchise. Murray said he would pay the $140 million fee for the St. Louis franchise.

Speaking by telephone from a plane en route to Chicago, Murray said he and three investors now controlled 54 percent of the group. He said he would appear this morning at a joint meeting of the N.F.L.’s expansion and finance committees in Chicago and identify the three investors. He said his appearance before the committees had been arranged by Jay Moyer, the league’s general counsel.

Murray said the remaining 46 percent of his group would be held by Clinton (20 percent), Orthwein (12 percent) Walter Payton (10 percent) and Tom Holley (4 percent). He would not say what share of the group he would retain himself. When asked if Clayton, Orthwein, Payton and Holley had agreed to this change, he said:

“They have not told me they would not participate. I sent them faxes and letters and have not heard that they did not want to remain part of the group.”

So, now you can see that series of events that unfolded during the process. Clinton-Orthwein, Clinton-Kroenke, Murray-Clinton-Orthwein-Payton-Holley and then Competing group; Stan Kroenke, Charles Knight, Andrew Taylor, and John Connelly.

If you are reading that trying to make sense out of what you just read, I was doing the same writing it. The process was so fluid and ever-changing I don’t even think the people involved knew what was happening. All of these things occurred between ’89-’94.

Also during this expansion process mess in St. Louis, Orthwein, bought the New England Patriots in 1992.

St. Louis had already begun construction on the soon to be Trans World Dome at America’s Center.

Orthwein was dead set on heading to St. Louis after the 1993 season. At that point, Robert Kraft, who owned the lease on Foxboro Stadium wouldn’t let Orthwein out of the lease, and due to that Orthwein sold the Patriots to Robert Kraft in 1994 and the rest is history.

I’m shaking my head even writing this stuff!

Thinking back on the entire saga of expansion one would have never thought it would have been this messy, yet it was.

At this point, the dream of having a franchise in St. Louis looked all but dead, on life support, but then, out of nowhere, there came a savior of football in St. Louis, or at least we thought.

Part 2 of this series will be coming soon, stay tuned.

Derek King

N The Zone Contributor

Sources: New York Times, St. Louis Post Dispatch, Chicago Tribune

 

How the NFL saved St. Louis…by leaving.

Posted in Football, Los Angeles Rams, NFL, Social Media, Special, Sports, St. Louis Rams, St. Louis Sports, Stan Kroenke on January 12, 2018 by derekkingsports

@DerekKingSports

So, I grew up just outside of St. Louis during the 80’s when baseball was king. Whiteyball was in full swing and the Big Red football Cardinals were an after thought.

Terrible football and St. Louis go hand in hand, kind of like coffee and gooey butter cake. The football Cardinals had suffered from long tenures of losing with brief glimpses of success. Yet we showed up to games, we supported a sub-par product being shuffled out onto the field from time to time was rightfully embarrassing to all the fans who were still supporting it.

William “Bill” Bidwell, owner of the St. Louis Football Cardinals had long been dissatisfied with playing second fiddle to the baseball Cardinals, although the latter had very little to no success during the 70’s when the Big Red were at the heights of success winning 2 division titles and 3 playoff births in 27 years in St. Louis.

Mr. Bidwell petitioned the city of St. Louis for a new publicly funded stadium to where he no longer had to share facilities with the baseball Cardinals. The city balked on the idea of a perennially bad football team pushing for millions of public money for a new stadium in St. Louis. The city had issues of their own to address during that time besides giving a millionaire millions more to build a stadium for a bad football team. It was egos at work at its finest.

Instead of negotiating with Bidwell over terms of a new facility and lease terms, the city, in all their infinite wisdom decided to not negotiate with ownership and force Bidwell to find other avenues. City administrators thinking the whole time he’d never go. Much to their chagrin, he did.

Phoenix, Arizona

I was devastated to say the least. Even as a child football was everything to me. It felt like as I had lost my best friend. I became jilted and eventually got over the loss by rooting for the Kansas City Chiefs, at the time they had just landed Joe Montana and were a very successful team. Only problem was, they weren’t my team. My team left me for a desert, A DAMN DESERT! How could they do that?!

So you see my dilemma, I had no team. I had in all terms and purpose, became a free agent. During this entire search for my football soul there were talks between the NFL and St. Louis about the NFL returning to the city. Officials passed a bill to build a new stadium in downtown that would be christened the Trans World Dome at America’s Center.

This new expansion team would be called the St. Louis Stallions. It was a done deal, at least we thought. My father worked for Paramount Headwear and Apparel at the time and they were running hats and shirts for the Stallions. They couldn’t talk about it, take pictures of it, wear it or otherwise let the product see the light of day. They had an entire setup at the headquarters in St. Louis, they even had a Stallions cake, this is how close it was.

In the 11th hour due to potential franchise owner issues with Chuck Knight, Stephen Brauer, Charles Cella, Sam Fox, Fred Kummer, and Andrew Taylor, as well as the late John Connelly from Pittsburgh, the city introduced none other than Stanley Enos Kroenke as another financial backer, but the play was much too late and the NFL chose Carolina and Jacksonville over St. Louis for expansion. We all know what happened next, so let’s fast forward to 2018. St. Louis has an identity crisis at hand. A county city divide, dilapidated city infrastructure that is in desperate need of repair, dwindling city population, businesses disappearing from downtown faster than a pair of expensive sunglasses. We know this, Stan didn’t have to make such a scathing report on the matter. Fact is now the city can focus on these glaring issues, as long as they stay out of their own way, but that’s always been the issue hasn’t it? St. Louis city officials are more worried about getting their hands greased then doing what’s best for their constituency. Not to get onto a political stump, but this is how things need to get done. Stop fighting over who getting paid and do what’s best for the region. The city is getting there, everyone just has to hold those responsible accountable for their stewardship. Politicians don’t own the city and county, you do. All that being said, would I like to see another NFL team in St. Louis? Without a doubt! Only time will tell. The only thing everyone in St. Louis can do is work together to make their city, the best city they can.

Thank you for reading.

Derek King

N The Zone Network contributor

2017 WBCBL National Championship Replay

Posted in Basketball, Special, Sports, St. Louis Sports, St. Louis Surge with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 7, 2018 by ALNTheZone

 

I had the pleasure of handling the play-by-play duties for the 2017 WBCBL National Championship between the St. Louis Surge and the Georgia Soul…along with Palmer doing color commentary and with our freshman phenom Ashley Wright handling sideline duties along with color. I have said it before and I will say it again…THIS was a great team and I had a lot of fun working with these two. I also appreciate Surge owner Khalia Collier for allowing us to participate along with former Surge assistant Angela Lewis for coming up major with the equipment to provide for the game. 

But here it is…in it’s entirety from the Fontbonne Field House (the links are below):

The St. Louis Surge look to become national champions for the second year in a row and finish undefeated. They take on the Georgia Soul, a second-year team in the WBCBL.

Here’s the 1st quarter action from the Fontbonne Field House with the call from play-by-play man Arlington Lane, and color commentators Palmer Alexander III and Ashley Wright.

Sponsored by Deer Valley Home Health and Ol’ Henry Restaurant.

The 1st Quarter

Here’s the 2nd quarter action from the Fontbonne Field House of the 2017 WBCBL National Championship between the Georgia Soul and defending champion, St. Louis Surge.

Here’s the call from play-by-play man Arlington Lane, and color commentators Palmer Alexander III and Ashley Wright.

Sponsored by Deer Valley Home Health and Ol’ Henry Restaurant.

The 2nd Quarter

Arlington, Palmer and Ashley give their thoughts on the first half of the 2017 WBCBL National Championship with the “Ol’ Henry Restaurant Halftime Show.”

The Halftime Show

Moving to 3rd quarter action from the Fontbonne Field House of the 2017 WBCBL National Championship between the Georgia Soul and defending champion, St. Louis Surge. More with Arlington Lane, Palmer Alexander III and Ashley Wright with the call. Sponsored by Deer Valley Home Health and Ol’ Henry Restaurant.

The 3rd Quarter

Here’s the exciting conclusion of the 4th quarter from the Fontbonne Field House of the 2017 WBCBL National Championship between the Georgia Soul and defending champion, St. Louis Surge. Special guest Earl Austin, Jr. of the St. Louis American joins Palmer Alexander talking about the championship game. Does the Surge repeat as champions or would the Soul snatch victory and gain their first title? Here’s Arlington, Palmer and Ashley with the action. Sponsored by Deer Valley Home Health and Ol’ Henry Restaurant.

The 4th Quarter

Arlington, Palmer and Ashley give their final thoughts on the national championship, give their player of the game awards and conduct some interviews with the champions.

The Postgame Show

 

 

The A-Train

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