“ESPN Insider” Fees: Marketing Gimmick or Yoda-Like Advice

When I woke up this morning to subject myself to another hour of torture before solidifying my Fantasy Football roster, I noticed that ESPN has a new advertisement. The phrase, “ESPN Insiders are 54% more likely to win their Fantasy Football league” appears every few seconds across my homepage. Now, naturally my attention was piqued because I was agonizing over whether Nate Washington or Brian Hartline would get the nod for my flex this week (I know they aren’t the greatest options, but in a PPR league and with players having byes they both work out). However, I noticed that to become an “ESPN Insider” you have to pay a monthly fee to access an assortment of blogs and “cheat sheets” that supposedly give everyone insider information that will give them an edge in their respected leagues.

I decided to pass on the advertisement. I noticed that this nominal fee only gets you access to blogs written by unknowns, and without some sort of credentials from these people, I would rather confer my own Fantasy Football Council that I get FREE access to. I have always subscribed to the theory that multiple heads are better than one, but I am not going to pay to have random heads feed me bunk, like to pick up Deion Branch (WR-NE) as a “sneak-up pick”, what encompasses “rumor central”, or listen to a guy named Kara tell me how he’s “getting cute” starting Andy Dalton over Tony Romo.

I believe that the best advice is to trust your gut instincts and to always put talent into your roster rather than a good match-up. Trust me, it seems like you would get the sameĀ  result.

Here’s to another week of The Abusement Park dominating!

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Finally…Football Has Come Back…To Los Angeles

Yesterday, the Los Angeles city council cleared the final political obstacle to bringing an NFL franchise to the sports-laden town. Stadium developer and major stock holder in every major sports team in L.A., AEG, has been cleared to start construction on a $1.5 billion football stadium that would be located downtown. However, before construction can even begin, the city needs to convince one, or maybe two, NFL franchises to relocate.

AEG spokesman Tim Leiweke has made it clear that they are not looking to steal a team away from any fan base, but if owners have exhausted all attempts to remain in its current location, L.A. is ready for them. This has the potential to be a huge job and economic boost to the greater Los Angeles area, with the Staples Center having over 4 million visitors a year and the L.A. Live project (facilitator of the game support staff for L.A. franchises) creating 6,000 jobs already.

In my opinion, this is a huge game changer for the NFL. Now struggling, small-market teams have the opportunity to operate in a media mecca which has been itching to get an NFL team ever since the Oakland Raiders moved back to their home city after delivering a Super Bowl title. There has been speculation that the Minnesota Vikings were the prime target for L.A. investors to solicit to make the move, but with the Minnesota Legislature approving a new stadium there is no possible way that they are moving. So, that leaves us with the question of who will it be?

There’s the argument that why can’t AEG just create a new franchise? Well, business logic would dictate that it’s a lot easier to market an established brand than start new and take your chances. With that said, I think a great fit for L.A. would be either the Jacksonville Jaguars or the San Diego Chargers. There are a two reasons that I believe that these two teams would be fit for the move and they are: both franchises are tier-3 teams in value and neither have the established cache or branding that would make them palatable only in their current regions of the country (i.e. New England Patriots). With this said, the Jaguars would make the most sense to move because the Jacksonville/Ft. Lauderdale market has not embraced the franchise despite their multiple playoff appearances, and I believe with the right management they could bode much better in Los Angeles.

The Chargers, on the other hand, would have the more painless move to L.A., and they already have established pro-bowlers that would perform well on the larger stage. However, the Chargers have had an established relationship with the city of San Diego for the last half century, and it would be a little more difficult for them to make the transition than the Jaguars because of that reason. However, if Angelinos desired to have two franchises like AEG has proposed, I would have to believe that the Chargers would be one of the first tapped to move to the City of Angels.

Even though the intimate details have not been solidified, the city of L.A. has taken a great first step to bringing a valuable commodity to their already storied sports city. Angelinos deserve to have a football franchise to root for beyond the U.S.C. Trojans, and I believe that any team with non-regional specific appeal would be foolish to turn down the opportunity to play in L.A.

We Don’t Deserve Better Referees, We Deserve Better Rules

Recently NFL commissioner Roger Goodell made a statement that football fans deserve better, calling the replacement ref situation an “unfortunate distraction.” The past three weeks in the NFL have been tumultuous, but I, along with millions more, were forgiving enough to tune in with record ratings. Only until the golden boy of the NFL (Aaron Rodgers) was affected did the league have any desire to settle the referee contract, calling the call the final push toward a settlement.

Because I live in Packer Country, I have heard every gripe possible regarding the touchdown call in Seattle. Every cheesehead and player on that team has touted that the call was botched, but they clearly do not realize that the simultaneous possession rule would have been interpreted exactly the same by the “regular refs”.

The fact of the matter is that the rule may have been the cause for the Packers’ loss, but the same rule would have also been used to justify an interception. With that said, it is irrefutable that the standard refs could have made the exact same interpretation with the black and white rule in front of them.

The rule itself, not the referees, is the root of the controversy in the Packer/Seahawk game last Monday night. Simultaneous possession was introduced to the NFL in 1988 as an attempt to encourage an offense-oriented game, and last Monday night was not the first instance of it ruining a team’s night. The rule worked against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the mid-nineties when the Miami Dolphins scored a touchdown on what was ruled a simultaneous possession, and it subsequently knocked the Steelers out of playoff contention.

I believe that the NFL, players, and Packer fans unjustifiably used the replacement refs as a scapegoat for last weeks’ controversial call. The only fault that could be cited for the replacement ref crew is that they did not carry out the proper mechanics of making the call by conferencing before making the call on the field. However, with the call on the field being a touchdown, there was no incontrovertible evidence to overturn the call. Hochuli and his crew would have had to make the same call had they been in that situation.

The point of all this is that everyone who has voiced that the replacement refs had botched enough calls and that they are glad that the regulars are back are hypocrites because I cannot recall any gratitude for them in the past. The same criticisms for the refs have existed for decades, and until people accept that you cannot take the human element out of football, they will never be satisfied. Fans expect the refs to be absolutely perfect but quickly forgive their $100 million dollar babies for only completing 55% of their passes.

Personally, I do not believe that the NFL has now put a better product out on the field because the same terrible rules that started this fiasco remain. If I, as well as other football fans, deserve better, then why doesn’t the NFL eliminate ambiguous rules and create consistency with penalty calling that gives an equal playing field for offenses and defenses. Believe me, I understand that having pass-happy teams and putting up 40+ points a game leads to more media revenue for franchises via Fantasy Football addiction, but with that comes slanted rules that can sink any team at any time.

Bring back the days of defensive backs with Stickum-covered arms that deliver bone-crushing blows because I am tired of these shotty rules being created to protect the high-dollar aristocrats and that can negatively alter outcomes of games. Everyone can admit that it’s a sad day in the NFL when the current rules would prevent tenacious players like Jack Tatum and Ronnie Lott from being elected to the Hall of Fame.