Posted By John on the Rampager Mailing List
For those interested, I was out at Rams Park last night with about 70 other Ram fans in the Rams meeting room for a dinner, and a presentation by Kevin Demoff. To his credit, he does not duck questions and is very frank with his responses and at times is very outspoken. Among the highlights….
Unknown about Roger Saffold’s future with the team. Says that Saffold likes St. Louis and playing for Coach Fisher. Says also that Saffold will test free agency but is unclear what the market will bear for Saffold. Demoff belives Saffold’s future is at guard and can be a pro-bowler at that position. Mentions several left tackles around the league and what they made like Bushrod (8 Million). If someone wants to pay Saffold that much, the Rams probably will not match.
He says that the Rams and CVC are combining to improve the sound system in the Dome. He said the CVC is spending 5 million in upgrades to the system. Also hopes to improve the cell phone reception in the Dome, says it’s bad and noted some laughable issues he had with his own cell phone trying to contact his wife after the Bears game, and was receiving text messages hours after the game was over from her that she sent before the game. Also noted the Rams are paying to upgrade the food selection and concession areas to make them better and have contracts out for bid.
He says that the situation where Austin Pettis spoke out about playing in Los Angeles earlier this season, combined with the incident that occurred in LA last week where Tavon Austin was holding a banner that said, “Future Los Angeles Ram season ticket holder”, was BS. Demoff says that Austin was sent to LA to attend some College Football event and say a bunch of fans wearing Rams jerseys and went over to say hi to them, when he snapped the picture. He said that Austin called Demoff the next day when the picture went viral to say he knows nothing about the dynamics or group involved and wasn’t aware of the fans in St. Louis sensitivity to the issue.
He made some very candid comments about officiating during the season. Said some of the calls were frankly bone-headed and committed by young players like Ray Ray Armstrong, and Darren Bates. Said the play by Pead against Indy on the opening kickoff was bone-headed as well. He said the Rams were chippy this season because of the personality of Coach Fisher. Pointed out that the Seahawks lead the NFL in penalties and yards this season and Fisher wants the Rams to be aggressive and not sit back passively. Pointed out that the Rams in seasons proceeding Fisher, were not aggressive and quite frankly got smacked around without responding from opponents. Says that officiating league wide was not good and wants the NFL to adopt policies similar to College, where there are more reviews and more options for coaches. Said that the ejection from the Carolina game of Chris Long was wrong, because reviews of game tapes revealed no punch being thrown by Long, and the league rescinded their fine of him for the ejection. He then criticized the league for having the same crew work a Ram game 4 weeks later and that the Rams players he felt were at times hampered by unfair officiating. He also cited the Bears game where Brockers was penalized for the hit on Bears QB which was actually a clean hit. He made a remark about the Seahawks/49ers game and the fumble on the goal line that was recovered by Navorro Bowman where he was injured, could not be reviewed which was stupid. Also cited the Arizona Cardinals game where the ball was blown dead on the goal line after a forced fumble by TJ McDonald which would have been a 100 yard fumble return for a TD by Jenkins.
He said that he wouldn’t be surprised to see the Rams draft a back up QB in the 2nd round or 3rd round. Says that Rams have 9 draft picks and the coaches recently returned from the Senior Bowl and are beginning to prepare for free agency and the draft.
He likes the direction of the team but says they need to improve on offense and that the defense right now is essentially playoff ready. He says the Rams are committed to Sam and feels that they win 9 to 10 games if Bradford stayed healthy.
He said that he too is distressed by the visiting teams fans sometimes over taking the Dome, but feels that the team has to win to make season ticket holders stop selling their tickets. Enjoyed watching Bears fans slink out of the Dome after the Rams kicked their butts. He said that there are no salary cap issues with the Rams and that the way the team is structured, they have the ability to control core, younger player contracts for the next 9 seasons as opposed to letting them walk to free agency.
The stadium issue came up (again). He said that the Rams are prepared to go year to year and pointed out several other teams around the league such as the Charges, Bills, Vikings, (up until this year), and Raiders, who go year to year. Says that the Rams have no announcements and does not expect Kroenke to make any public statements about the stadium issue until after the lease expires in 2015. He said he understands fans frustration with Kroenkes reluctance to speak publicly and also to come out expressing a desire to stay in St. Louis. He also said it “could get ugly” when the contract expires in 2015 but didn’t elaborate.
Says that the Vikings situation in Minnesota took 5 years and that the owner Ziggy Wilf actually flew to LA to meet with AIG. After that happened, the State Legislature passed the funding in order to pay for the new stadium in Minnesota. Roger Goodell actually flew to Minnesota to tell the politicians that the situation with the Vikings moving was “serious’.
Demoff said he can look up and has access to every player contract in the NFL. Says it helps him access salaries and bonuses.
Bragged about the Rams outreach into the community and is proud of his players charitable contributions to St. Louis.
Pointed out Hekker and Quinn’s pro bowl appearances and said that they represented the organization well.
A few more thoughts popped into my head after I sent the first email…..
Demoff implied they are all in with Sam Bradford. He is not worried about Bradford’s salary the next two seasons nor his CAP ramifications. He says media reports about the Rams trying to renegotiate Sam’s salary are not correct. Demoff says he “reads everything” Rams related he can lay his hands on or pull up on the internet and feels that most of what is reported is wrong or is created to stir controversy when none exists, like the earlier alluded too Tavon Austin thing in LA.
Demoff asked everyone in the room to raise their hands to find out if they want an Dome or outdoor stadium. 2/3 of my crowd wanted an Dome. (I voted for outdoor). He says that he asks every crowd he speaks in front of and it’s usually 50-50. He also asked if they wanted a new stadium in St. Louis City or St. Louis County, and the room was split, which he also said is usually 50-50.
Made interesting comments about the Rams 2nd round pick of Brian Quick over Alshon Jeffrey in Fisher/Sneads first draft. Said that Jeffrey left South Carolina after his Junior year with the reputation that he “took plays off”. Jeffrey came to the combine about 30 lbs overweight. These were all contributing factors. Says that Jeffrey really emerged in the 2nd half of the season when he figured out how to outjump opponents and utilize his skill set better. Made interesting comments about Janoris Jenkins matching up with Jeffrey in an SEC game before Jenkins transferred (from Florida) to finish his collegiate career at North Alabama. Said that Jenkins knocked Jeffrey to the ground and got into a fight with him then held Jeffrey to 2 catches for little yardage. Said that Fisher viewed the game tape and that was when he decided he wanted to draft Jenkins.
Demoff made comments about Chris Givens having a lost year after Bradford went down. Said Givens was fine and will be fine in the future but when Bradford went down, the Rams lost their ability with Clemens to go deep with Givens. Says Givens will be fine next season.
Made interesting comments about Jared Cook. Some of the issues were the fact that teams found ways to take him out of the offense after week one and the Rams frequently had trouble adjusting. Says that it’s been speculated that the Rams overpaid for Cook and that it remains to be seen if that is the case for now.
Says that Stedman Baily really opened some eyes with his play this year and will emerge as one of the teams top receivers going into 2014. Also says Tavon Austin was utilized better in the 2nd half of the season before he was hurt and is fine going into next season.
Said the Rams special teams were among the best in the NFL and set a record for net average with Hekker’s punting. Said that the core of the special teams is very young, and kept laughingly referring to Armstrong and Bates as knuckleheads for some of their antics.