SBJ/Nov. 28-Dec. 4, 2016/Franchises

Bob McNair on ...

How owners view the concussion settlement

Owners are not happy that [because] the NFL was the one with the deep pockets, so that’s who the plaintiffs’ lawyers went after. They have not sued any of the colleges and the reason is simple: You sue the University of Alabama and go into Tuscaloosa, do you think a jury is going to give you an award against the University of Alabama? Forget it. We could have fought that, and my feeling, and the feeling of many of us was we would have lost very few of those individual cases because the burden is so high. I mean, they would have to prove, No. 1, you received a concussion from playing football. No. 2, at what level, when did it occur? And they have played since they were a little kid, so was it in high school or junior high or college or the NFL? And to be able to prove that would be a tremendous, tremendous task. But we did recognize that there were some people who were having some problems and that we did not know enough about concussions and we were better off settling this, setting aside money to take care of these players.

Players’ willingness to self-report concussions

One of the things we have accomplished [is that] players now are willing to say whether they think they might have a concussion. … They didn’t want to say that before, not because the coach or any of us said, “If you get hurt don’t tell us.” No. If you are an athlete, the last thing you want to do is come off the field. So you don’t want the coach to know you are hurt.

How much the NFL knew about concussion risks

The public is coming to realize the NFL is leading the way. We are not hiding anything. Plaintiffs’ lawyers would like to build this case, and that is what they were relying on, [that] we were hiding information. We haven’t hid any information, we didn’t have information, no one did. We are developing information, and we are learning from it, and we are taking steps.

Why, as a member of the L.A. committee, he voted for the Carson project, which lost to the Rams’ Inglewood project

The stadium [St. Louis Rams owner] Stan Kroenke was talking about did capture the imagination of a number of owners. And I think the concern on the L.A. opportunities committee [was that] you have one solution [Carson] that would take care of two teams [the Chargers and Raiders], and one solution that would take care of one. So really what happened is that we sat down with Kroenke and said, in effect, look, you have to make this a two-team stadium and we have to agree on some of the terms so the second team will not be disadvantaged. And we will still accomplish our goal of providing a home for two teams if they want it. That swayed enough of those who were in favor of San Diego and Oakland to say, well, “We will still be able to take care of two teams this way and will get this dazzling stadium also, and the owner is committed and has adequate capital to see it through.”

If he knows what casino magnate Sheldon Adelson’s economic terms are for a $650M pledge to a Raiders’ Las Vegas stadium

There is a lot to be learned yet. … There has to be a deal that works for the club. … If it is going to cost you $20 million, $30 million a year to occupy, that is a pretty high price.

Does the Nevada subsidy and Oakland’s lack of a deal for the Raiders thus far cement a Vegas move?

I don’t think it will be automatic. Oakland is improving economically, there is no doubt about that. And really the San Francisco 49ers, they are an hour, an hour and a half away. That creates an opportunity for a lot of people who did not, who were not fans of Oakland to become fans of Oakland, just 30 minutes across the bridge.

Talk that the decision to sign Brock Osweiler bypassed the head coach

We were all in agreement we wanted Brock. We recognize that if we were going to go to the next level, we had to have a quality quarterback. … I knew it was going to cost us money, my coach didn’t have to ask anything of me, I knew this is what we had to do. We all agreed.

Whether he knew, when he bought the team, how much league business he would have

No, I had no idea. I thought I would just spend time on the team. I didn’t realize how much owners are really engaged in league activities. If it is important it is owner-driven rather than staff-driven, and all the important decisions are made by the owners.

— Compiled by Daniel Kaplan

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