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Bernie Bytes: Praise for Chip & Lucia ..
BY BERNIE MIKLASZ, Post-Dispatch Sports Columnist
DALLAS -- This is around the time of the week that the NFL owners begin to arrive for the Super Bowl, and Thursday night several of them attended a private party staged by Cowboys owner Jerry Jones at Cowboys Stadium. The owners were entertained by Fergie and later Jamie Foxx. Former president George W. Bush attended.
There are no Stan Kroenke sightings in North Texas; not yet, anyway. But it's been an interesting last year or so for Kroenke and the Rams. The franchise made considerable progress in 2010, establishing foundation QB Sam Bradford, winning seven games and repairing the fan-base damage caused by the three-season disaster of 6-42.
We don't know what's up ahead. There's the increasingly hostile NFL labor situation. The Rams and St. Louis will have to find a way to deal with a serious stadium-lease issue. The Rams are stronger and healthier, but still vulnerable. But they have made advancement. There is no question about that.
I ran into an NFL owner this week that mentioned something that I'll pass along. I don't think it's cool to name the owner; I wasn't working or taking notes and it was an off-the-cuff conversation. But he said something that I absolutely agree with: while it's good to have Kroenke in place as the Rams' owner, Chip Rosenbloom and his sister Lucia Rodriguez deserve a lot of credit for making necessary and overdue changes and setting the Rams up for a better future. The owner told me: don't forget about the role they played to improve things before handing off to Stan.
It's true. After taking over the Rams following the death of their mother Georgia Frontiere, Chip and Lucia were thrown into a rather substantial venture. It wasn't an easy time. Their mom had just died.. They'd never run an NFL franchise. They hadn't spent much time on the ground in St. Louis. The team was in a free fall. And financial pressures made it obvious that brother and sister could only hold onto the franchise for a relatively brief time. It would have been easy for them to do nothing and wait until a sale could proceed.
But Rosenbloom and Rodriguez got involved. They tried to make things right. The Rams' sorry state made them feel terrible, and they set out to change it. Longtime executive Jay Zygmunt was fired. Longtime exec John Shaw moved further into the background and into an advisory role. Bumbling head coach Scott Linehan was fired. Other changes at the top were made.
The Rosenblooms hired the effective Kevin Demoff to run the business side and negotiate player contracts. They promoted Billy Devaney to GM; the team's drafts have improved. The owners participated in a hiring process that resulted in Steve Spagnuolo being named head coach. He seems to be putting a good program in place. And Spags improved the team dramatically on defense (and in the standings) in his second season. Spagnuolo and his staff did a terrific job in transitioning Bradford into the NFL. After the Rams drafted Bradford, Rosenbloom and Rodriguez made sure to step up financially to get him signed in time for training camp. They were on the way out by then, about to make way for Kroenke. But they got the Bradford deal done with a guarantee of $50 million.
Relative to other NFL owners, brother and sister weren't wealthy. So there were some drawbacks; the franchise wasn't a big spender on free agency. But the Rams' philosophy was to build through the draft, anyway. Hey, things could change. You never know if the 7-9 record will hold up next season, or if the Rams will continue on this upward trend. It's a tough league. This change fast.
But it's clear that Rosenbloom and Rodriguez made an important impact in their term as owners. They left the Rams in much better shape. And if the franchise takes the next step and evolves into a playoff team, you'll see a few other people receiving most, or all, of the credit. But the positive changes began when Georgia's kids took over and cleaned up Rams Park and put a new regime in place. We shouldn't forget that.
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* It's 20 degrees outside, and with the wind factored in, the temperature feels like 11 degrees. There's a couple of inches of snow on the ground. But at least there's a roof over Cowboys Stadium, so weather won't be a factor in Super Bowl XLV. I can't wait for the open-air Super Bowl in New York in 2014. And if you think I'm whining, actually you're wrong. I don't run around much at the Super Bowl, so weather doesn't affect me. Football is a cold-weather sport. It's best when played outdoors. Until the advent of domed stadiums, the elements were always a part of NFL competition and lore. And that's still true in most NFL stadiums.
* The media arousal over Ben Roethlisberger's night out is one of the most idiotic things I've witnessed in 27 years of covering the Super Bowl. During the season the Steelers' quarterback has a tradition of taking his offensive linemen out to dinner every Tuesday. The tradition was upheld Tuesday in Ft. Worth. They had a barbeque feast, then went to a piano bar. Roethlisberger picked up a big tab, left a generous tip, and returned to the team hotel before curfew. I'm sorry, but is this a scandal? I don't know how to break it to the moralizing Church Ladies out there: but NFL players go out during Super Bowl Week. They keep up with their regular-season customs -- like the QB showing appreciation for his linemen by taking them out for a nice meal. They have dinner. And ... OH MY GOD!!! .... they may even have a few beers. America's dumbed-down trash culture has never been as stupid as it is right now. Everything is a scandal.
* Of course, the Steelers' night out will provide a predictable, built-in narrative for lazy sportswriters, broadcasters and fans. if the Steelers lose to the Packers, it'll be because the Steelers were wild and out of control and partying the night away. If the Steelers beat the Packers, it'll be because the Steelers were loose and relaxed. At that point, the dumbos would then reverse course and suggest that the Packers were too uptight and rigid and made a mistake by not going out to have some fun during the week. All of this is nonsense, of course. Because the Packers are going out and having dinner and .... WHAT WILL WE TELL THE CHILDREN!!! -- having a few cocktails.
* I'm bad at predicting what will happen in Saturday's Pro Football Hall of Fame selection meeting. The strong advance feeling is that Marshall Faulk and Deion Sanders will be voted in. I assume nothing, but if Faulk and Sanders are locks, that would leave only three available spots among the remaining 13 modern-day candidates.
Here are the 13, via order of the alphabet:
-- RB Jerome Bettis
-- WR Tim Brown
-- WR Cris Carter
-- C Dermontti Dawson
-- DE Richard Dent
-- DE Chris Doleman
-- DE Charles Haley
-- DT Cortez Kennedy
-- RB Curtis Martin
-- WR Andre Reed
-- OT Willie Roaf
-- NFL Films founder Ed Sabol
-- TE Shannon Sharpe
People can say what they want, but don't tell me it's easy to pick three names from that list. Sure, you can pick three names -- as long as you don't bother to look at those you excluded. There will be some great football players left out on Saturday.
Ed Sabol is the most interesting case here; there has been an aggressive, nearly crusade-like push to get him in. Sabol and NFL Films have had a profound impact on the growth of the NFL's image and popularity. But do you vote Sabol in at the expense of a great player? That's the question.
Generally speaking, I think it would make sense to vote at least one wideout into the Hall this time. There's a logjam at the position. And all three of these guys on the ballot have Hall of Fame credentials. It's not as if they don't belong. I understand that we've seen a dramatic proliferation of receiving statistics; so many guys are piling up huge numbers. And it is difficult to separate them. But that doesn't mean we should just continue to ignore them or stay paralyzed by indecision. Look, the NFL is a passing league now. Teams throw the ball. There are great quarterbacks getting the rock to great receivers. It's like what Tim Brown said to me: The Pro Football Hall of Fame voters don't hesitate to put quarterbacks into the hall, but who are the quarterbacks throwing to? Who is running fantastic routes and getting open and burning defenses and defeating double teams and making superb catches? Brown is right; the quarterbacks aren't doing this alone.
I go into the meeting with an open mind... but a few thoughts: (1) Willie Roaf had an extraordinary career; the big man was voted into 11 Pro Bowls and was a member of TWO all-decade teams, the 1990s and the 2000s ... Cris Carter: goodness, the man had 130 TD catches and is No. 3 in NFL history with 1,101 catches. There's never been a better slot receiver ... here's the deal on Tim Brown: people forget that he was an All-Pro punt returner in addition to being 4th in NFL history in catches and receiving yards... Andre Reed doesn't have the bulk-rate stats as the others, but he kept that Buffalo K-Gun rolling, he could play outside or in the slot, and he has outstanding postseason numbers ... Jerome Bettis: one of the best power runners of the modern era and No. 5 all-time in rushing yards... Curtis Martin: No. 4 all-time in rushing yards and put together an incredible string of 10 consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons... Shannon Sharpe: at the time of his retirement was the No. 1 receiver among TEs in NFL history. And he played a major role on three Super Bowl champions, two in Denver and one in Baltimore. Came up huge in the postseason... Richard Dent was a great all-around DE for a long time. He played a complete game; he wasn't just a pass-rusher... Cortez Kennedy shouldn't be overlooked; this was the most complete DT of his generation, and one of the great "bad team" players in NFL history. How good do you have to be to be named NFL's Defensive Player of the Year on a 2-14 team? Kennedy was, for Seattle... Charles Haley: fierce competitor and sacker and five Super Bowl rings to his credit ... Dermontti Dawson: can make the case that there's never been a better center ... Chris Doleman had 150 sacks...
Like I said, if Faulk and Sanders are automatics, then good luck picking only 3 from that remaining list of 13. This is the best Hall of Fame ballot I've seen in my 12 years as a selector.
-02-05-2011 #2Registered User
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Re: Bernie Bytes: Praise for Chip & Lucia ..
Thanks MauriRam for posting. I don't recall hearing about the brother and sister's efforts at righting the ship on here much.
Re: Bernie Bytes: Praise for Chip & Lucia ..
Much thanks to Chip and Lucia for securing the #1 draft pick in Sam Bradford and pasing the torch of a proud family legacy to Stan, keeping the spirit of the Rams alive for many years to come.
HOF: Marshall and Deion are locks.....I think Ed Sabol, Shannon Sharpe and Charles Haley deserve to join them in the Hall.[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
-02-05-2011 #4Registered User
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Re: Bernie Bytes: Praise for Chip & Lucia ..
Aw F###! Bernie is a selector?[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
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