--Dennis Mannion, CEO of the Detroit Pistons, on Golden State Warriors owner Joe Lacob
“I’m a professional listener. There’s a lot of smart people in the world, you know. I’m not the smartest. I’m just an integrator.”
--Golden State Warriors owner Joe Lacob
It’s at this point that you may be wondering why I’m opening an NFL column with quotes from NBA power players. That’s a fair question. To understand the direction in which I’m steering this article, let me first remind you of the fact that since Steve Kerr became head coach of the Warriors in 2014, Golden State has compiled a historic 200-38 overall record during the regular season with one NBA title and another NBA Finals appearance.
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, the Warriors understand how to win, and that winning culture begins at the top of the food chain with Lacob, a venture capitalist who operates his basketball franchise with Silicon Valley precepts.
Rather than conduct hoops business like a dictator with little or no advice coming from outside his very own thought process, Lacob has compiled a cabinet of diverse minds capable of bringing very unique and experienced perspectives to the conversation anytime the Warriors attempt to troubleshoot a problem. There’s co-owner Peter Guber, a Hollywood entrepreneur, general manager Bob Myers, a former NBA agent, and senior advisor Jerry West, an NBA Hall of Famer who spent 20 years as the general manager of the Los Angeles Lakers under legendary owner Jerry Buss.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
The morale of the story here is that the Warriors believe their organization stands a better chance of sustaining continuous success with a diverse collection of decision-makers rather than operating with just one, singular voice like several other professional sports franchises.
Which leads us into today’s article, where we here at Covers attempt to employ the Golden State way of thinking in order to analyze the latest developments that have recently surfaced from the National Football League owners meetings in Phoenix, Arizona.
The process begins with Covers Senior Managing Editor extraordinaire Jason Logan, who had an idea over the weekend. Through a series of changes ranging from instant replay to the spacing out of commercial breaks, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is attempting to speed up football’s pace of play.
Logan, ever the forward-thinker, immediately began to wonder how these changes would affect point spreads and totals. In much the same manner in which Chip Kelly’s up-tempo offense severely hindered his defense because of the additional time and snaps the defense was required to spend on the field, Logan wondered which NFL franchises would be helped and hurt if the game’s pace of play was drastically increased.
So our fearless leader, much like Joe Lacob, pitched the idea to me and I went to work with calls to two Las Vegas bookmakers and a former NFL safety who spent seven years in the National Football League.
Here are their thoughts:
Ed Salmons, Westgate SuperBook Assistant Manager: “All these changes seem very minor, as anyone who tries to watch one NFL game at a time knows its nothing but commercials and more commercials followed by a kickoff for a touchback followed by more commercials. With all of the replay reviews and coaches’ challenges, there are a million game stoppages resulting in plenty of rest. Therefore, I don't see any difference at all coming to the game. The longer halftimes are welcome by Nevada for more halftime bets.
“Everyone can think this and that, but until it is seen on the field, nobody really knows. A perfect example is when the NFL moved kickoffs to the 40-yard line and certain people thought that with so many touchbacks set to occur as a result, scoring would decrease. But in reality, the exact opposite occurred. With so many of these rules you never really know how they will affect the game until you see it.”
Chris Andrews, South Point Hotel, Casino & Spa Sports Book Director: “Even after looking at these proposals for a few days, I have to answer with a bunch of ‘I don’t knows.’ Jesus, I guess I sound like a moron, but I honestly don’t know how coaches will react to these proposed rule changes. Chip Kelly’s defense was an outlier that I don’t think we’ll see again in the near future. Smart coaches will adjust and dumb ones will be exposed. Just like always.”
Matt Bowen, 7-year NFL veteran safety, now with ESPN: “With less TV timeouts, I think it caters more to the teams with high-profile coaches that can make adjustments quicker. In high school, adjustments are made on Saturday morning in film review. In college, they are made at the half. In the NFL? You have to make adjustments immediately -- on the sideline -- or you lose. So, I would tend to believe coaches like Belichick, Sean Payton, Gregg Williams, etc. could use this as an advantage. They don't "need" the extra TV timeouts, or the extra three-to-four minutes during a commercial, to make minor adjustments.
“Think about playing against the New England offense. It’s up-tempo and you’ve now got fewer breaks on the field. It might not show up in the first half, but in the fourth quarter of an early season game in the heat? Defenders’ legs will get heavier with the television timeouts reduced.”
Different minds, different backgrounds, different opinions. The bookmakers are essentially telling us that patience is a virtue, while the former NFL safety believes that the cream of the crop within the coaching ranks will benefit greatly from Goodell’s proposed changes.
Only time will tell, assuming there is any time left after the NFL’s pace of play increases take shape in the coming season.