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Adam Schefter Interview

Editor's Note: This is the full interview between Cecil Lammey and Adam Schefter. The interview took place in Mid May. An abbreviated interview appears in the FBG Strategy Magazine.

FBG: Adam, it's a pleasure to interview you for Footballguys.com

AS: No problem Cecil, nice to be here.

FBG: In the NFL Draft this past April, Aaron Rodgers fell to #24 to the Green Bay Packers. He is their QB of the future, and in your opinion should a franchise follow up a legend with the heir apparent, or let some free agent fill the gap for a couple of years so the comparisons aren't so fresh in people's minds?

AS: Let me say this right now, there's a fallacy here. Everyone says that Aaron Rodgers went to the perfect spot, and I would say that he went to the most stressful spot he could've gone to. They say how this worked out great for him. I disagree, this really was a terrible situation for him because he does have to follow Brett Favre. So whatever he does, unless he is an all-pro, hall of fame quarterback, he will be viewed as a failure in Green Bay because he's not going to be Brett Favre. I didn't have the heart to break it to him on draft day. I wanted to say, "Aaron I like you, you're a good kid, but as bad as it was to fall to #24, it could be worse to end up in Green Bay because of the pressure that you're going to be under."

Go back in history and look at Danny White and Roger Staubach. Danny White was a good QB, but people didn't like him because he wasn't Roger Staubach. Brian Griese in Denver, not bad, but not John Elway. Steve Young succeeded Joe Montana, but Steve Young is going to the Hall of Fame this summer.

Now you asked me the right way to season your QB, getting back to the original question. There is no right way. The GB Packers traded for Brett Favre, they gave up a first round pick to get him, and it ended up being Tony Smith for Brett Favre.

FBG: The Doctor was his nickname, from North Texas!

AS: Right, the Packers got their QB in a trade, Joe Montana was a 3rd round pick, Troy Aikman was the #1 overall pick, Kurt Warner was picked up as a free agent off the street. So there is no right way, the key is to just to continue to look for QBs and find QBs. Brett Favre has had 11 back ups to go on and start in the NFL. Aaron Brooks, Mark Brunell, Kurt Warner was in Green Bay's camp, Matt Hasselbeck. He's had some great QBs behind him because Green Bay was always picking them in the late rounds. I don't have the sure fire answer for you as to what is the best way to come op with your franchise QB. Other than to say if I was running a team, I would pick a QB every single year in rounds 5, 6, or 7, maybe 2 of them.
There are hits, there are misses, the thing with QBs is that you have to keep going to the well with them. To me, in my mind, there's no right or wrong way, you trade for them, you draft them. Whatever you have to do, you just keep signing QBs until you find one that you like.

FBG: Maurice Clarett's future seemed in doubt when he quit at the combine. Now that he's in Denver he seems to have the best chance for success, do you think that he will be successful in Denver?

AS: Do I think he's going to be a success? I think he's going to be a BIG success. I watched highlights of Maurice, and the one thing that stood out to me, and it wasn't his speed because his speed is not great. And by the way, Terrell Davis ran a 4.7 at his private workout. So Maurice is faster than TD. Plus there's football speed with pads on and there's track speed, and I think Maurice plays faster than he runs on turf.

But saying all that, I watched highlights of Maurice after he was drafted and leading up to the draft. I must say his feet are incredibly quick, watch how many people miss him. Do you think that ability just vanished? I don't. Now there will be a learning curve, he's been out of football for two years. He has to get back into football shape, he has to learn the Broncos system. But go back and look at recent Broncos history, Clinton Portis didn't have any carries his first few games and then he exploded. Mike Anderson the same thing. Now I think that Tatum Bell has a chance and the potential to have a huge year. But I also think that at some point he's going to get dinged up. And I also think that at some point early in the season Maurice will get a chance. Once he does he's going to run with it.

FBG: RBBC is en vogue around the league. Could we see Maurice in a goal line situational runner to start out his career in the NFL? Because Maurice has great short area burst, and runs through arm tackles well, I think that might be where he gets his first regular season carries.

AS: I can't answer that, I can only tell you that I guarantee the Broncos will look at him in that role this summer in training camp. And if he fares well, they're going to give him more and more carries around the goal line. Because Denver struggled in the red zone area last year, they need a productive back. If he proves he can do it, yeah he's going to get that chance.

FBG: Now the Broncos traded out of the first round this year and received Washington's 1st round pick in 2006, let's look at the crystal ball here. I think that the 2006 first rounder could be a potential top 15, top 10 pick. Could we see the Broncos package their two first round picks to move up and take, maybe a Matt Lienart with the #1 overall?

AS: You're assuming that the Redskin's pick won't be the #1 pick in the draft. I think that it's going to be a premium pick. It may not be, but I think it will be. Worst case scenario it's going to be 15-20. If you go back and look under Daniel Snyder, Washington has never won over 8 games in a season. They have given no votes of confidence to Patrick Ramsey. The team, in my opinion, has not gotten any better from where it was last season. I would love to see Denver stay where they are and take two guys. As soon as you said trade up for Lienart though, I have to say man that's interesting. But I don't know if those two 1st round picks will be enough to trade up to the first overall. Plus, it depends, who's at #1? Is it San Francisco again who just drafted a QB? Or is it Arizona who has a need for a long term QB? So who's got that pick and what is it worth? If the Broncos feel like Matt Lienart is the guy next year, what I do is trade three 1st round picks. Look at what they gave up for John Elway. I would've given up ten 1st round picks for John Elway. The bottom line is this, they're going to have options. We don't know where they're going to be drafting but we do know they're going to have options.

FBG: Let's talk about a rookie QB that I had rated as the top QB in this draft class as far as long term value is concerned. I think that Adrian McPherson could develop into one of the marquee names in this league. Perhaps New Orleans wasn't the greatest place for him to go because Aaron Brooks isn't known as a leader. But let's say, in three years, McPherson could be lighting up the NFL.

AS: Here are my thoughts on Adrian McPherson. I like to tell people that I don't know what I'm talking about, but I like listening to people that do know what they're talking about. I spoke with Leigh Steinberg the agent for Adrian McPherson, and for 40 other QBs, last month before the draft. He has represented Steve Young, Troy Aikman, some great QBs over time. Leigh told me that if Adrian McPherson had stayed at Florida State for his entire career, he would have been the #1 overall pick in this draft. Is he right? I don't know, but I know that is an awfully strong statement to make from a guy that has some credentials. So, I do know that when somebody says something that strong the player needs to be looked at seriously. Adrian has got a real chance to succeed and I don't think there's any question about his talent.

FBG: Will the Saints be in Los Angeles when Adrian finally gets his chance in 2 or 3 years?

AS: Somebody will be, either the Saints, the Vikings, or the Colts, somebody's gonna be there. One of those 3 teams is most likely to make the move.

FBG: Can a NFL franchise succeed in LA? It doesn't seem there's enough of a fan base in the 2nd largest city in the nation.

AS: I think that a well managed team will succeed anywhere. You get together the right ownership group with the right team and people will flock to that franchise.

FBG: I wanna speak briefly about your experiences at the 2005 NFL Draft. This was your first year covering it for the Network, what was it like?

AS: Exactly what you would think it to be. The NFL Network affords you advantages that other media outlets do not. And I look at the NFL Network as another media outlet. We treat news as news. You turn on Total Access and you're getting 60 minutes of all football. Where on Sportscenter, in a 60 minute show you'll get maybe 2 minutes of football in the off season.

FBG: It's not just propaganda from the NFL on the Network either. When the 60 minutes steroids scandal broke, Rich Eisen was on the Network talking about it. As you said, it's the news.

AS: Last night, Kellen Winslow Jr. had the motorcycle accident. Now my report was on his contract that prohibits "hazardous activities" which includes motorcycle riding. If the NFL Network was supposed to be "ra ra ra" for the league we wouldn't be revealing information like that. But that's not what Total Access is, it's just NFL news around the clock. Now are we going to uncover a steroid scandal or anything like that? No. Are we going to report about it? Yes. We are not going to shy away from anything. Total Access is the best spot for football fans.

FBG: Mike Williams is a guy that has Cris Carter coaching him. He is very similar to Carter in many aspects, should we expect Carter like numbers from Mike Williams?

AS: Not this year no. For a couple of reasons, first of all he may be the #3 receiver on that team. Roy Williams is a budding superstar. Charles Rogers from all indications is healthy, now we have to see him stay healthy before we applaud him. Now the indications are that he's bigger, stronger, and will be more durable. Let's assume that both of those are true. Mike Williams will be the #3 receiver on that team. How many rookie WRs come in and contribute right away? Not very many make an impact immediately. Anquan Boldin did it. Every year there seems to be one rookie WR that rises above the crowd and distinguishes himself from the rest of the class. WR is one of the positions that takes the longest to develop. Last year it was Michael Clayton, the year before that it was Anquan Boldin, but by in large you're only getting one guy a year. I don't think that Mike Williams is going to be that guy after sitting out of football for a year. Let's factor in this as well, who's going to be throwing him the ball? We both agree that Harrington's future there isn't long. There are questions about the QB position in Detroit. I think that Mike Williams if I had to guess right now will have 40 catches, 600 yards and 4 or 5 TDs.

FBG: How deadly are the Lions going to be this year?

AS: I had one coach tell me that the Lions have more young talent than any team in the league. And I mean on both sides of the ball. I think that Detroit should be making a playoff run this year, if not making a run for the NFC North title.

FBG: The Vikings are going to be very tough, and could be Super Bowl XL bound.

AS: I don't disagree with you. The team may be better without Randy Moss. One of the reasons they traded Randy was so that they could make Daunte Culpepper the undisputed leader of the team. It used to be ½ and ½, you remove Moss from that equation and now it becomes Culpepper's team. How much better are they going to be following a solid guy like Daunte Culpepper?

FBG: On the defensive side of the ball it almost seems like fantasy football because the Vikings targeted who they wanted and went out and got them.

AS: In the dome their pass rush is going to be fierce. Pat Williams along the defensive line is one of the most underrated players in the game. Erasmus James is an excellent pass rusher. Fred Smoot is a good cover corner. They should be a really, really good team.

FBG: I'd like you to talk about Fantasy Football. Everybody loves Footballguys, including Adam! What kind of impact has Fantasy Football had on the sport?

AS: I don't think it's impact can be underestimated. One of the reasons that football is the national pastime, that football is as popular as it is, that football has sort of embedded itself as a religion is because of Fantasy Football. I hear players talking about it all the time. I remember the famous quote from Brian Griese, when I asked him about people being affected by him on their fantasy teams. He said, "I could give a rats ass about your fantasy team." Typical Brian Griese when he was here in Denver. I participated last week in my first fantasy draft over at NFL.com. I didn't know what to expect. I thought the fantasy draft would be boring, or annoying, but once that draft got under way and we started making picks, I was completely riveted.

FBG: Football is really geared for the fantasy game. You have all week to research your players, etc.

AS: All the more reason to watch Total Access during the week.

FBG: Let's talk about some of the guys you drafted, specifically Willis McGahee and Kevin Jones. These are two guys that I really like.

AS: With Willis McGahee, Buffalo is going with 1st year starter J.P. Losman. Who do you think they're going to lean on more, Losman or McGahee? And in Detroit, with all those WRs, defenses are going to be geared trying to figure out how to stop Roy Williams, Mike Williams, and Charles Rogers. Freeing up some lanes for Kevin Jones, and he's going to run wild. Those are my top 2 RB picks and I am thrilled to have them on my team.

FBG: Let's talk about the future stars of the league. Willis McGahee, Kevin Jones, Roy Williams, Big Ben Roethlisberger, who do you like the most?

AS: You left out perhaps the biggest star in the game that is one of the youngest players. That would be Tom Brady. He's only 27 years old and has 3 SB rings. John Elway played until he was 37, by that measure Brady could have 10 more years! Who's the brightest young star in the game? I would say it's Tom Brady. And you know I like Michael Vick. I just love Michael Vick. Now I watched him a lot last year and he really struggled at times, he's not a great passer. But I believe that in any game he plays he gives his team an advantage to win that game.

FBG: How does the NFL market both the teams and the players successfully?

AS: The Super Bowl seems to be so open every year, despite the fact that the Patriots have won 3 of the last 4. There's no reason to think the Lions or the Bills couldn't come out of nowhere and make it to the Super Bowl. So everybody thinks that their team has a shot every year. This gives fans more interest and makes them follow more players. And the NFL isn't built on a star system, so much as it is the popularity of the sport, the appeal of the sport, and Fantasy Football. There are a lot of reasons that make the NFL so appealing and the #1 sport.

FBG: The NFL is the king of the hill. Pete Rozelle was a visionary and saw what this league could become many years ago. Are we living Pete Rozelle's dream?

AS: Do you realize that if you took the total value of the combined contracts of Baseball, Basketball, Hockey, the Olympics, golf, NASCAR all those TV contracts together do not equal the contracts of the NFL. The NFL's annual intake has gone from 2.4 billion $$ per year to 3.7 billion per year and that doesn't include the Sunday/Thursday night packages. Is this Pete Rozelle's dream? I think this is beyond Pete Rozelle's dream. He recognized what TV could do for football. Pete Rozelle started this train in motion and Paul Tagliabue has continued driving it.

FBG: Will we ever see regular season games televised on the NFL Network?

AS: I think so. I think that will happen, it's only a matter of time. Let me ask you this, this is the owner's network, they are the owners games, why would they not want to put their games on their network?

FBG: Now you've worked for the Network for almost a year now. Did they make you take the Wonderlic?

AS: No. I would've failed it if they had. I wouldn't have gotten the job. I would've scored somewhere around Troy Davis the RB from Iowa State who had a 4. One of the lowest Wonderlic scores I've ever seen in my life. His YPC average was higher than his Wonderlic. When your YPC is higher than your Wonderlic you know you've got a problem!

FBG: What is the craziest Wonderlic question you've ever heard?

AS: Well, I haven't heard many but I do know this. I asked the same question to Kevin Hardy back at his combine, and he said, "Do you like tall women?" And I said, what did you answer? And this shows you how quick witted and quick thinking that Kevin Hardy is. He said he crossed out the "t" and then it read "I like ALL women."

FBG: I want to talk about potential holdouts, obviously very important to Fantasy Football owners. First up, Terrell Owens?

AS: I think it's going to go on for a while. Because you have 2 very strong willed sides. TO is very strong willed, and the Eagles are very strong willed. If you give into TO, no matter how good of a year he had, you basically make all contracts null and void and you open Pandora's Box. The Eagles are one of the smartest organizations in all of sports and I have the utmost respect for Joe Banner and Andy Reid. I don't think they're going to give in at all. I think they may do some cosmetic things, throw in some incentives, but they're not going to restructure the basic framework of that contract. I think that TO just rubs people the wrong way.

We have Boldin holding out in Arizona. We have Walker holding out in Green Bay. We have Sean Taylor holding out with the Redskins. We have TO in Phili, Droughns in Cleveland. What's the similarity with all those players?

FBG: Drew Rosenhaus.

AS: They all have the same agent! Drew Rosenhaus is the human work stoppage! He's got some situations this off-season where I don't see how he's going to get a deal done. If he can, then more power to him. Drew does a great job, but do you think Cleveland is going to give Rueben Droughns more money when he hasn't done anything for them?

FBG: Is Boldin going to hold out?

AS: I don't think so. Now he is looking for adjustments in his contract. I think he loves the game too much.

FBG: Antonio Gates?

AS: I keep hearing that he is going to hold out. The Chargers are fighting me on this, but I keep hearing that without a new deal he could be a hold out.

FBG: Is the NFL going to start looking in new places for the next Gates?

AS: The Broncos signed Wesley Duke from Mercer, he never even played college football. It's a copy cat league and as soon as Gates did what he did, other teams are going to be looking everywhere for the next Tony Gonzales or Antonio Gates.

FBG: Did it surprise you that the Jaguars took Matt Jones that early in the first round?

AS: Love that pick. The Broncos wanted to take Matt Jones with their first round pick. Because they felt he wasn't going to be there they decided to trade out of the first round.

FBG: What's the difference between the type of access you used to have and the type of access you have with the NFL Network?

AS: That's a great question. I think it's more fair to say that my access is not much greater, but my exposure is greater. Last week I was in Baltimore and I sat down with Jim Fassell and Brian Billick. If I was just covering the Broncos I wouldn't be flying out to talk to these guys. So I have more exposure to them. They have more exposure to me. I was in the Redskins building, and this guy said, "Hey the NFL Network's in the building." I went up to him and shook his hand and said, "I'm Adam Schefter, who are you?" and he said "Ernest Byner." Now, EB doesn't know me if I'm covering the Broncos for the Denver Post. Every coach and most players in the NFL have more access to me, but I don't necessarily think that I have more access to them.

FBG: Well Adam, I certainly appreciate your time and I look forward to talking with you again real soon.

AS: My pleasure Cecil, I'll talk to you soon.

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