A good long chat with Kevin Demoff ..
12:30 PM - 1:30 PM CTChat with Kevin
Rams Executive VP of Football Operations and Chief Operating Officer Kevin Demoff joined us to answer your questions in a live chat on Friday, Nov. 13 at 1:30 pm CST.
Good afternoon Rams fans, it is great to be with you this Friday. Thank you for your continued loyalty and support for the Rams, it fuels our building each and every day. With that, let's answer some questions!
Ruben, Highland, Ca 1:33 PM CT
Kevin, Thanks for taking my question. From an operational standpoint, what was the most challenging aspect of your position coming in, evaluation of front office staff, cap related issues, changing attitude/environment, ect? What has been the most rewarding?
Ruben, I think the most challenging aspect is the same one Coach Spagnuolo faced, which is changing the culture at the Russell Training Center. There was little to no communication between the football staff and the business staff, and no vision for where this organization was headed. The most important task at hand is to provide a vision which is to re-engage our fan base and make St. Louis excited about Rams football. How we do that is improving all of the items you mentioned -- the play on the field, the game day experience, the attitude of our staff and making us the most fan-friendly and community-oriented team in St. Louis.
Tom, Fenton 1:36 PM CT
Kevin - First, while the wins have not been piling up, I appreciate the efforts put forth by the team this year. The wins will come, just need to keep churning the roster and find the right pieces. Thanks as well for the new game day experience at the Ed. While I appreiate the conference calls with you and Coach Spagnuolo and chats like these, are there any plans for reaching out to the season ticket holder base and having any type of "appreciation day" after the season is over. I know the Cardinals and Blues do the same for their STH and was curious if there were any plans for the Rams too. I have been a STH since the Rams moved to St. Louis and I bleieve the previous regime did a poorjob of engaging with the loyal fans who renewseason tickets each season. Thanks for your time and the chat today.
Tom, We have done a poor job in the past providing our season ticket holders with value and recognition, and if there is one thing we do on the business side, it will be to have a better connection with our fans and especially our season ticket holders. For the first time, we are going to host Fan Appreciation Day on January 3rd when we play the *****, and that will be the beginning of our "fan off-season", which will focus on giving greater access and recognition to our season ticket holders. We need your support and we know that our season ticket holders and all other ticket buyers are the lifeblood of this organization.
Dean, Wilmington, NC 1:40 PM CT
From everything that I've read about you, you seem to have a lot of class and integrity. This team has been missing that for a while. On another note, how do you see this next year in relation to it being uncapped or capped? Would you give odds on it being either way at this point? It would seem to benefit both parties to come to an agreement. In regards to a lot of the "dead money" coming off the books this year, do you see the Rams taking a more agressive approach in FA this next off season? Thank you so much in advance for answering my questions. Dean
Dean, You should know better than to believe what you read in the media! I think at this point neither side really knows whether 2010 will be capped or uncapped, and we are preparing for both possible scenarios in the front office. I agree that both sides and the fans would benefit from an agreement that provides labor peace in the future, and I know both sides are eager to forge a new deal. Whether or not there is a cap, I don't know how agressive the Rams would be in free agency next year. Great organizations build through the draft and by coaching up their young players, and I know Coach Spagnuolo and Billy Devaney and myself believe in that philosophy as well. I think our Free Agency signings in 2009 highlight a typical approach -- maybe one or two big signings and a focus on more under the radar guys who will play an important role in a new environment. Our director of pro personnel Mike Williams does a great job finding the "unknowns" in free agency.
Jim Hussey, Chesterfield, MO (Sect. 114 Row E & I) 1:45 PM CT
Mr. Demoff, Please let me know... What can be done to enforce ticket validation for seating in the Dome? Why is it fair for somebody to purchase a ticket outside for $10 and then come in and sit in my Sect. when I have to pay $4800 a year plus 18K for the PSL's. This is a problem for every game. Everybody in STL knows that not a SINGLE ticket is checked in ANY section in the Dome (excluding club level). All you have to do is get in the door and then sit where you want. In every other NFL franchise - the tickets are checked for EVERY section - even the cheaper seats. Cardinals & Blues check tickets - 31 NFL teams check - why not us? This is not at all fair to those of us dedicated fans who are paying a premium and feeling like fools at every game. Feel free to call me 636.519.1964 or email email@example.com if you do not wish to answer this question in public....as to it being a potential embarassment for the Rams. THANK YOU for your time and all that you do for the Rams. We do appreciate the "reaching out" from the entire Rams staff to improve our gameday experience - keep up the good work! JIM
Jim, I can sense your frustrattion and agree how unfair that situation is. We ask the Dome staff to be rigorous in their enforcement, but unfortunately, we are at the mercy of the individual usher in each section. We have started to hold Sunday morning meetings with the entire Dome staff (who work for a third party) to educate them on our goals and try to get them to be more customer-service oriented. With your information we will make sure the staff knows to be more vigilant in checking tickets, and I will make that point with them on Sunday morning. One of the hardest parts of our job is the fact that the Dome staff does not work for us, but rather the city. If any ticket holder has a problem that is not corrected by the Dome staff, please don't hesitate to call the Rams so we can know of the problem. Our fan comment line is always open for any concerns or comments -- 314-516-9646.
Chris Garcia, orange county, ca 1:50 PM CT
Kevin, Did you ever play football? If so what position? How much is your opinion weighed when selecting personel such as free agents and such.
I hold my elementary school record for Interceptions returned for touchdowns in a single season! I was a heady safety and backup quarterback without any talent, so I moved to the front office. You would have to ask Billy and Steve how much they value my opinion! But most of the decisions we make are from a consensus of all of the personnel staff in the building, and we have a great group of scouts who know what they are doing, and Billy does a good job getting the information that is needed from all sources.
Ed T., Saint Louis 1:53 PM CT
What does it mean to "Tender" a player?
A "tender" is offering a player a contract for a certain amount. For a player with less than 3 years in a league, a "tender" is for the minimum salary that corresponds with their years of experience. For a player with 3 years of experience, a restricted free agent tender means that you can match any contract and receive a draft pick in return if you do not match the contract. For a franchise or transition player, a tender means that player earns either the average of the top 5 or top 10 players at their position and you receive 2 first round draft picks if they are a franchise player.
Ross McCooey, Dublin, Ireland 1:55 PM CT
Hi Kevin, I was just wondering what the mood of the building/organization is at the moment. It was a tough first half of the season but ending it with a win must have been a good lift for everyone involved! I know as a fan it certainly felt like a well deserved reward for the team!
Fans in Ireland, we are going global! The mood is very upbeat in the building right now and throughout the organization. Attendance through the first 3 home games of the season is up, our television ratings against Detroit were our highest of the year which means the fans are sticking with us and we have now sold out the first 4 games of the year. Our team is gaining confidence and playing better, and I think the organization senses that there are better days ahead for the rest of this season and beyond.
Steve, OFallon 1:57 PM CT
Is this weeks game sold out?
This week's game will be Fox 2 (KTVI) but has not sold out. There are still about 500 tickets remaining if fans want to buy at ticketmaster.com or 314-RAMS-TIX.
Tyson Langland, Las Vegas,NV 1:57 PM CT
Kevin, I read an article about you in the Post-Dispatch about a week back. It said you had the chance to stay in Tampa Bay. What intrigued you the most about coming to St. Louis and joining Billy and Coach Spags?
When I first met Coach Spagnuolo in a hotel room at the Senior Bowl, I knew he was the person you wanted to try and rebuild an organization with. He has a great sense of self and a way to motivate players, and he is genuine in everything he does. I think the best compliment to Spags is at the league meetings in Boston in October, nearly every team executive came by to tell me they knew Spags could fix this team and he was the right person for the job. That's a great testament to his ability and respect he has in the league. I've known Billy since I was 9, so I knew we would work well together. Plus, at 5'11, I knew I would be the tallest member of the front office.
wendy, shrewsbury 2:00 PM CT
I actually have more of a comment than a question. I have noticed an increased presence in the community and want to congratulate you on those efforts. I am involved with several charities who have enjoyed your support. Thank you!
Becoming a better community partner is one of the focus points of our organizational turnaround. We have instituted the "Rams Day of Service", where for one day each month we close down Russell Training Center and have the employees volunteer for the day at local charities. We have built a playground in East St. Louis, passed out school supplies on the first day of St. Louis public schools, packaged diapers at Nurses for Newborns, stocked shelves at the St. Louis Foodbank and endeavored on many other projects. This month we are going to pass out turkeys and cook Thanksgiving dinner with the Urban League and on December 9th the entire staff will be ringing bells for the Salvation Army at the Schnucks in Des Peres. This club has to become better involved in the community for this region to understand how passionate we are about St. Louis.
Andrew Babcock, Warrenton, MO. 2:04 PM CT
How much money do you expect next season after the dead money is gone? And is their any interest in bringing back Isaac Bruce back?
If there is a salary cap in 2010, the Rams will be approximately 35m under the salary, which would be the third most room under the cap in the NFL. There has been some pain this year, but the salary cap should not be the driving force behind any personnel decisions moving forward. This year, we were forced to create a dollar of salary cap room for every dollar of salary cap room spent. That meant making difficult decisions with some talented players, but we made the decisions that we thought were best for the long-term future of this organization.
Chris Garcia, orange county, ca 2:06 PM CT
Kevin, Ok this is an important one. I see games where other teams mascots are in the endzone, or dancing around getting a lot of tv play as well as getting the crowd pumped up. Why doesn't our mascot get out there and act pumped up like other teams mascots? Could we get this handled. I could fly out to St. Louis every home game and I can guarantee to get that crowd rocking for our team.
We are strongly considering adding a mascot in 2010, so stay tuned.
Bill, St. Louis 2:08 PM CT
What kind of sports agents do you like dealing with and what kind do you not like?
I actually enjoy dealing with all agents and there is not one agent who I have a difficult relationship with. Obviously when you grow up as the son of agent, you have a better understanding of the tactics and motives of the agents, and you realize they are advocates for their clients. I hope that we have a reputation in the agent community of being fair and ethical, that is what we strive for in each deal.
john merrell, st. charles 2:12 PM CT
why can't the Rams do a better job of building excitement to come to the game. Take a page out of the Blues game. It's exciting and I don't even like hockey. I'm a huge Rams fan but the product on the field stinks and the game atmoshpere is bland!
We are trying to improve the game day experience each and every week by putting the focus on the players and the fans, where it should be. Whether it is the new HD scoreboards, the new LED boards with scores and stats or the Bud Light Party Zone, we are committed to giving people the value they crave whether we win or lose. If you were in the buidling for Green Bay, our fans were loud and engaged, and that is how we need it to be every week.
Mike Fabisch, Buffalo, MN 2:14 PM CT
What do you see as the future of Rookie Salaries? Personally, I'd like to see some sort of cap. It seems a bit ridiculous (and in some cases crippling) for a team to pay such high salaries for unproven "talent".
I understand the frustration with how highly paid the rookies are, but one thing to note is that the majority of rookie salaries from the 10th pick or so on are pretty fair for both sides. In the top 10, the salaries are pretty steep so you have to make sure you don't miss on a player. However, if you hit on the right player, they can set your franchise up for continued success, so the focus needs to be on drafting the right player, not how much they make!
Josh , Memphis, TN 2:17 PM CT
Do you believe players from free agency or the draft will have an immediate impact on next year's squad?
This really depends on the CBA and whether 2010 is capped or uncapped. If 2010 has a salary cap, I would expect the Rams could use both avenues to get better. However, if 2010 is uncapped, there will be a limited free agent pool consisting of players with 6 years or more of experience. That will make it harder to sign young, talented players in free agency, the type of player every team wants in free agency. As a result, in an uncapped year, the draft will be paramount, which is one of the reasons we are trying to stockpile picks in the 2010 draft.
Howard Johns, Los Angeles 2:19 PM CT
If there is no salary cap next year, how would that change contracts for guys on the team whos contracts are gonna be up?
There are eight players on the Rams who would normally be Unrestricted Free Agents in 2010 who will be Restricted Free Agents in 2010 if there is no salary cap. Those players are as follows: Victor Adeyanju OJ Atogwe Alex Barron Samkon Gado Gary Gibson Richie Incognito Ruvell Martin Mark Setterstrom We would have the right to "tender" all of those players as RFA's. There are 6 players who will be UFA's no matter what the cap situation is: Kyle Boller James Hall Paris Lenon Leonard Little Chris Massey Randy McMichael
Melissa, Sikeston, MO 2:22 PM CT
First, I would like to say a big thank you. I was one of the fan scholarship winners and have been thoroughly enjoying the seats we were given for the season. Next, there is still so much chatter about a move. What is the probability of that happening? I know some LA fans would be happy, but I for one would not. We drive almost 2 1/2 hours now to see a game. If the Rams were to move, the next closest team to see live in action is the Titans, 4 hours away. And it wouldn't be the same seeing my Rams on TV from LA (or anywhere else) every week.
Melissa, we were truly impressed by your passion for the Rams. For those that may not know, we awarded five "Fan Scholarships" to our most diehard fans who have gone through hardship and can't afford season tickets. In our building, we are focused every day on engaging St. Louis fans. I believe the Rams are a civic enterprise, and although the team is run for profit, our fans are our stockholders and we are 100% committed to the fans of St. Louis. Our goal is to give you the NFL product you deserve and to be here for a very long time. The biggest challenge we face is proving to St. Louis that we are committed to this region, and we are trying to do that every day by being fan-friendly and active in the community, but I know there are still skeptics. We do not spend one ounce of energy talking about other cities or the team moving -- all of our efforts are on providing Rams fans with an outstanding experience in the Edward Jones Dome and making this team a community fixture for generations to come.
SGT Christian Beltre, Joint Base Balad, Iraq 2:26 PM CT
greetings from a fan far away. Sir, my question is, what are some areas that the team might address in this upcoming offseason, I know theres always changes, but the areas that the team are more interested in changing. thank you. GO RAMS!!!
SGT Beltre, thank you for your service and the Rams want to thank all of our veterans and men and women in uniform for their selfless pursuit of freedom for us around the world. We look forward to honoring all of veterans at Sunday's game during our "Salute to Veterans", which will salute all four branches of the military. With a young growing team, I don't think there are any areas of the team that we are completely "satisfied" with, so there is room for improvement at each and every position. We will get with the coaches and the personnel staff after the season and find out what players in the draft and free agency are the best fits for our scheme. The typical team has 18 new players each year, and I expect we will be right around that number or slightly higher in 2010.
Greg Peters, Arizona 2:31 PM CT
Is a guy more likely to get paid more if he does community service and stuff like that? Are those things considered when neogitating a contract or is it mostly just how he does on the field, stats and potential on the field?
Players do not get paid for doing community service, and in fact, all players who sign contracts with the Rams agree to community appearances as part of their deal. However, the majority of our roster is excited to be in the community and will do it voluntarily, with or without compensation. In fact, you may have noticed that this year we have 15 players who have community ticket initiatives which provide 20 tickets per game to underpriviliged youth, up from just 3 players last year. That is why the four pillars are so important, and why this team has stayed together through the good and the bad.
JP, GC 2:35 PM CT
What's up with Adam Carriker. I know he's on IR, but I never see him in media doing charity or even making appearances. Does he even come to the games?
I know much has been made of Adam Carriker, but it is much ado about nothing. He has been rehabbing diligently and trying to get into top shape for 2010. All of our players on injured reserve sit in a players suite during games, so you would not see the majority of our IR players at the games unless you knew where to look. Adam is heavily involved in charity efforts surrounding the humane society and animal rights, and is one of our leading community activists off of the field.
chris , Columbia 2:36 PM CT
In the 2010 draft what r the rams looking for?
RIchard Hun, Saint Louis 2:37 PM CT
How much say do you, Spanuolo and Devaney get in determining how much a player gets paid? As in, is it equal input when discussing a contract or does one guy have more say than another?
When we look to sign players, the three of us discuss the basic parameters within which we try to sign players. We need to make sure that we understand the value of each player and the trade-offs that come with signing some players. For example, we knew if we signed Jason Brown that we might not be able to afford some of our other top targets in free agency. In talking with the coaching staff and the scouts, everybody felt he was our top target and the choice of the "Group A" free agents. From that point on, it is up to the three of us and the coaches to recruit the player and get a deal done.
Gene Hunt, sec. 146 row CC seats 9-10 2:40 PM CT
Comment: I wish both end zones had the same size big screen TV's-where we sit I don't get a very good view of the new big screen and I usually watch the smaller screen the full length of the field from me. It would be really nice if that tv was as large as the new big screen that I sit to the side of .
If we had built two big screen televisions, nearly every dollar of the renovation would have gone to the screens. We opted instead to add the new sideline scoreboards and the Bud Light Party Zone for all fans in an attempt to upgrade the entire building. I know some fans are frustrated by only being able to see the "smaller" screen in the South End Zone, but please know it is 7 feet larger than the previous screen in that end zone!
Robert Dill, St. Charles, MO 2:42 PM CT
What does it mean to be a restricted free agent? How is that different from a regular free agent?
A restricted free agent is a player with 3 years of experience whose contract has expired. Unrestricted free agents are players with 4 or more years of experience whose contracts have expired. For a restricted free agent, the Club has a right to match the contract offered by another team and receive draft compensation if the offer is not matched. That compensation can be the original round the player was drafted in, the 2nd round, the 1st round or the 1st and 3rd round depending on the amount of the "RFA tender" given to the player in February.
stlouisrams#81, pennsylvania 2:44 PM CT
hey kevin do u think the rams have a chance at the division next year and finish this season strong?
Our players continue to improve week in and week out, they love playing for one another and they play hard. With that, I know we will continue to get better and add more wins to the tally this year. As for next year, we are committed to improving the team through any means possible, this coaching staff will get the players sharper in the off-season and I expect we will be in a position to challenge for the division. But the goal is to build a team for the long-term, not to take short cuts to immediate success.
victor, los angeles 2:48 PM CT
why dosent bulger ever show any emotion when we loose ? he seems like he dosent care as long as he gets a check.
That couldn't be further from the truth. Marc Bulger is passionate about the Rams, his teammates and winning. I think if fans saw him on the training table after the game or leading the team in practice, they would have a greater appreciation for Marc as a person.
Paul, Kentucky 2:50 PM CT
You made a comment a few minutes ago indicated that a players FA status is dependent on whether or not there is a cap in 2010. How does the salary cap situation in 2010 affect a player's status as restricted FA or unrestricted FA?
In a "normal" year, players are unrestricted free agents after 4 years or service. In an " uncapped" year, players need 6 years of service to be an unrestricted free agent.
Wayne , Fresno, Calif 2:51 PM CT
Hey Kevin, How is a player "valued" during contract talks? I mean how do both sides come up with a dollar amount of a contract?? I have seen average players paid way more than they are worth and excellent players getting the average pay
Before free agency starts, we determine what we believe a player should get paid in free agency. We will pursue players within our targeted range, and if we see a player we think will get paid more get "ignored" early on in free agency, we will agressively go after that player. However, if a player's value or demands is above the range we initially set on a player, we will move on to the next player on our list. A team has to be disciplined and follow the plans they lay out in advance, not get caught up in the heat of the moment and chase a player.
Ahmed Zaid, Fairfax, Virginia 2:53 PM CT
Thanks for your time Mr. Demoff. I was just wondering, are the Rams planning to take a dip into Free Agency this off season to help fill some of the holes? Chris Chambers was recently cut by SD, would he be a possible fit?
We will look at any player in Free Agency that we think can help the Rams. I think the most important thing to note in free agency is the best signing are not always the name guys, but the unknown players like Billy Bajema and Mike Karney. Mike Williams and our pro scouting staff do a great job of identifying players on other teams who might be better players in St. Louis given a change in scheme or position.
Keith, 2:55 PM CT
Kevin, will the Rams still be in St. Louis after the 2014 season? It's hard to spend money on the Rams with the possibility of a move.
I get this question a lot, and I can tell you our entire organization is focused on demonstrating our passion for this market and for the St. Louis fans. You should spend money with the Rams because you believe in this organization, Coach Spagnuolo and our players. If we haven't convinced you yet, then we aren't doing our job as an organization. We want to be a great community partner and be part of St. Louis for 365 days a year, not just the 10 days a year we play in the Dome. Hopefully people will realize this team is dedicated to St. Louis and its fans, and we have no desire to move.
erick, orange county 2:59 PM CT
How much input do you have in the up coming free agency & draft ?
If we win, a lot. If we lose, none :) Adding players to the roster is a collaborative effort, and we all play our parts. Our college scouts -- John Mancini, Brad Holmes, Luke Driscoll, Joel Patten, Steve Kazor, Drew Casani, Lawrence McCutcheon and John Gannon, and Tony Softli, our VP/Personnel, do a great job of providing all the information needed to let Billy make the right decisions. Mike Williams, Ray Agnew, Brandon Schwab, Evan Ardoin and Will Rodriguez handle the pro side and do a great job as well.
Michael M, SIUe 3:03 PM CT
I was wondering what's the feeling Steven Jackson has toward the organization? Because when I was watching the game against the Lions, the commentator said something about Steven talking to his dad about being on a losing team, but his dad was able to get him to stick it out in St. Louis. So i was really wondering if you think you'll be able to resign one of the best backs in the game when his contract expires.
It is hard to be anything but impressed by Steven Jackson's leadership and play in 2009. He has shown this community how passionate he is about the game and what a talented player he is, and I am thankful every day that he wears a Rams uniform. If you talk to Steven, you would know that his goal is to help turn this team into a winner and be a key part in a Super Bowl run in St. Louis. As for keeping him around, he is signed for the next 5 years, so my hope is that when his contract expires, he will have accomplished his goal of making this club a winner.
Van Ram, TurfShowTimes.com 3:06 PM CT
Are there plans to negotiate a new contract with O.J. Atogwe?
I couldn't let the good guys at TurfShowTimes go unrewarded for their drive to send in questions for this chat. We had many positive discussions with O.J. and his agent starting in February and continuing throughout the off-season, but we were unable to arrive on a deal that would work long-term. However, the talks were amicable and I think O.J.'s attendance during the off-season and the way he handled the negotations speaks to the level of class he has and to the kind of leader he is becoming. Negotiating with a franchise player is always difficult, because once you designate a player as a franchise player, you are already admitting how valuable they are and setting a value on that player. From that point on, it is trying to find a fair long-term deal. We will continue to do that with O.J. and I hope to have productive conversations with him and his agent for the rest of this year and through the off-season.
Tucker, Ballwin,MO 3:10 PM CT
What kind of advice can u give a 18year old trying to get a job like yours?
Find a job you are passionate about and learn everything there is to know about that job. Then bang on the front door until somebody lets you in.
Bob, Hudson, WI 3:11 PM CT
Thank you for doing this chat. No question - just a comment. I really appreciate seeing a united football organization. The front office and coaching staff seem to be on the same page and sticking to their plan. The record isn't where we want it to be, but I do see improvement and we're headed in the right direction. It is so disheartening to see a losing football team and a dysfunctional organization. Keep up the good work and GO RAMS!!!
I couldn't have said it better myself. We are passionate about turning this Club around and giving St. Louis and all of our loyal fans from around the country (and Ireland) a team they can be proud of. Every day we wake up and try to build a young, smart, disciplined and passionate football team, and I know Coach Spagnuolo is the perfect leader for this vision. We will use every means available to us -- the draft, FA, trades, waivers, practice squad -- to find players with talent and character who can help us win the NFC West, the NFC and the Super Bowl. Off the field, the Rams are dedicated to being more fan-friendly, more media-friendly and more community-oriented. We will not rest until we improve our game day experience and give our ticketholders a great day of game environment and the value they seek when they buy tickets. We will be engaged in the community and trying to help a hand wherever we can in St. Louis. The next generation of Rams fans are out there in every socio-ecnomic area of this town, and we will find them and make them proud to say they are Rams fans. Thank you for your support, and let's Beat the Saints! Kevin
Re: A good long chat with Kevin Demoff ..
Really good stuff on creating a fan friendly environment and trying to make this team the best possible for the fans. I think DeMoff among others are leading an effort creating an extremely fan friendly environment and producing a team St. Louis can really be proud of.
He also gave alot of honest straight forward insight into the future, that you don't really get out of a guy in the front office.