(Editor’s note: This is part one of a two-part article. See next week’s edition for part two.)
If an important sporting event was contested during the last three decades, there’s an excellent chance John Eisenberg covered it.
A longtime sports columnist for The Baltimore Sun, Eisenberg, who now covers the Baltimore Ravens for their website, has written or co-written 10 books, including his latest, The League: How Five Rivals Created the NFL and Launched a Sports Empire.
‘It didn’t make sense that the league–John Eisenberg
had teams in Jacksonville and Nashville but not in Los Angeles.’
Eisenberg answered a few questions about the NFL, which is easily the most popular sport in America.
The NFL has its problems, but remains king. Why? “For starters, the league has a wonderful tradition going back decades,’’ he emailed. “Millions of people are in the habit of following what happens, rooting for their teams.’’
Eisenberg, who also penned The Streak: Lou Gehrig, Cal Ripken Jr., And Baseball’s Most Historic Record, went on: “Those habits do not die easily, regardless of how many negative headlines interrupt their pleasure,’’ he said. “Then there are various elements that keep people coming back. There’s the quality of play, the amazing athleticism on display. There’s the violence, which certainly draws a certain slice of the public. Not to be underestimated is the fact that it is unscripted television and completely (we hope) on the level, which means you have no idea what’s going to happen when you tune in,’’ he said.
“I also believe that the seemingly nonstop controversies that now envelope the NFL also keep people talking about it and interested in what unfolds,’’ he noted.
What are Eisenberg’s thoughts on the Rams and Chargers being in Southern California?
“It didn’t make sense that the league had teams in Jacksonville and Nashville but not in Los Angeles,’’ he said. “It needed to happen. Having said that, I’m not a big fan of franchise relocation and I hate what happened to put those teams in L.A. Fans in San Diego, in particular, got screwed after decades of fierce loyalty to the Chargers.’’
Today’s rules favor the offense. Is Eisenberg a fan of high-scoring games?
“I like a good shootout as much as anyone, but I think there’s too much offense these days,’’ he said. “A good, dominant defense is a great thing to watch, but I’m not sure we’ll see many more, if any.’’
Eisenberg, who worked for five years at the Dallas Times Herald, then added: “I feel sorry for the players on defense, especially those in the secondary. It’s really hard to do anything without drawing a flag. I fully understand the need to limit helmet-to-helmet blows and other hits that threaten players’ health, but I wouldn’t mind more of an ‘up for grabs’’ scenario when a ball is in the air,’’ he said.
Rick Assad has written about sports for the Pasadena Star-News and Los Angeles Times. Contact him at email@example.com.