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"Simms" of Change - Part II: Interview with the Commissioner

Bobby Sansone

By: Bobby Sansone, YFFL.com Senior Writer

Posted: Oct 14, 2005

Gus Frerotte
Is a league where Gus Frerotte is a prize free agent a good thing for the YFFL?

In Part II of "Simms of Change", YFFL.com sat down with Commissioner Jon Kinsman for a rare interview. With the league in chaos and a revolution eminent, Kinsman recognized the significance of the interview and reassured everyone that integrity and the fraternal bond between owners would prevail no matter what. Despite being under heavy fire throughout the interview, the "People's Commissioner" did not waver one bit as he defended the owners and their integrity while recommending the league move away from its current 2 teams per owner format.

Bobby Sansone: Did you ever envision a YFFL in which a back-up like Chris Simms would be forced to start and a journeyman like Gus Frerotte would be highly sought after on the waiver wire?

Jon Kinsman: Well, I think we knew that with a 16 team league, it would be demanding on rosters, especially at the QB position. I think last week we saw the result of that.

BS: Was Steve Dugas unfairly attacked then or was his decision to go ahead and start Simms in a key division game simply unacceptable?

JK: Steve is certainly a lightning rod for controversy (for whatever reason) which I think made the situation out to be bigger than it was. While I'd like to think that every owner is doing whatever they can each week to put their team in the best position to win, I can see why some people had a problem with the decision, especially when the Mallards made a transaction to pick up a reserve WR the same week. However, I don't think it was as big a deal as it was made out to be - injured players are started all the time and lineups aren't always submitted in a timely fashion. I think because Steve was involved, the situation was blown out of proportion.

BS: The Mallards are now in year three of their existence and are showing little signs of improvement. Many have criticized Dugas for not putting forth the same amount of effort in building the Mallards as he has with the Merry Men. Is Dugas' indifference to the Mallards to blame for the franchise slow start or are the flaws of a 16-team 12-player dynasty league to blame?

JK: I think if you look at the Mallards versus the Merry Men, there are more similarities than differences in how they were built. The only reason the Merry Men's progression was quicker was because they landed Daunte Culpepper with a very late pick and he panned out despite people's expectations. Both teams have made the RB position a priority and have done a good job in acquiring a wealth of talent at that position. I think if Kyle Orton suddenly pans out next year, this talk of the Mallards not putting forth the same kind of effort would disappear quite quickly. I don't think it's really anyone's business to tell another owner how to build their team - this is a competitive league that takes a high amount of knowledge and skill to put a winning team together, which I think is a great thing. How someone goes about it is really up to them. The 16-team, 12-player dynamic is certainly different from the vast amount of leagues out there, but I often take pride in that. When I go onto ESPN.com's fantasy football section and see questions about whether someone should start Michael Vick over Peyton Manning or if they should trade Priest Holmes because they already have Edgerrin James and Corey Dillon, I laugh to myself. I just don't see the fun in a league like that.

BS: I think it's important that the owners know that this proposal has been in the works for quite some time and not just in light of recent events. When did it first occur to you that the league might be better with each owner having one team?

JK: While a 16-team, 12-player keeper league is quite different than most of the leagues out there, the concept of having 2 teams per owner is even more foreign. The possibilities of collusion are always out there in any league, but with our ownership dynamic, it's even greater because of the extreme conflict of interests. While I think the fact that we've had very few issues regarding this set-up is a testament to how much each owner cares about the competitive balance of the league, I think a system where each team is owned by a distinctive owner is something the league should consider and something I've been thinking about for awhile. I can't pinpoint the moment it occurred to me since it's been something that I've been thinking about over the course of a few years. Whenever 2 owners teams meet in a Super Bowl (which has happened an astounding number of times considering the odds) I think the thought always crosses my mind. For the single most important game of the season to be rendered meaningless is a real shame.

BS: Do the original owners feel threatened that the expansion owners have won the last three League Championships or do you think the competition is welcomed?

JK: I can't speak for anyone else, but I think the competition is welcomed. It's become fairly evident that success for teams comes in cycles and since the expansion owners came in around the same time, it's only natural that they would be hitting a peak recently. I think a resurgence among the "original" owners is coming back around, as evidenced by the standings so far this year.

BS: The YFFL is a tight-knit fraternity. Owners were skeptical about adding Steve Dugas and Kevin Sansone some 7 years ago but I think everyone agrees that the league is better off with them in it. Do you think the league can embrace new owners again?

JK: I think so, though it would certainly be different given the possible circumstances. When Steve, Kevin and even you Bob, came into the league, you guys were coming in with expansion teams that would only partially affect the original owners because of a further depleted talent pool. If the result of this proposed system asks owners to either give up teams completely or even give up players that have been associated with their franchises for a long time, everyone will want to know for a fact that these new owners will be as passionate about their teams and players as some of us have been since we were in grade school. Because of this, I think there would be a lot more pressure on these potential new owners than ever before.

BS: Good point. Many owners are worried about all the history that would be lost if 8 teams would essentially be abandoned. What can you say to qualm their fears?

JK: Without sitting down and looking at what the league might look like specifically, I'm not sure if I can say anything to assuage those fears right now. I will say however, that the history of this league is very important to me and I think if any changes are put into effect, an owner should still be able to trace the history of their franchise back to its roots in some kind of tangible way. As I've said, this is a challenging league. Each owner should be proud of any accomplishments they've made in it because of the caliber of opposition they faced along the way. I want to make sure those accomplishments are documented and not forgotten. This league's link with the past while maintaining a high level of competition in the present is one of its greatest assets.

BS: This "Simms of Change" Proposal has also addressed other flaws in the league. Flaws that I believe you are very familiar with and led you to trade Peyton Manning. Do you think mediocre teams such as the Dragons and 'Tangs of recent years are being punished for being competitive but not great? Or in other words, they are never awarded high draft picks despite never starting Chris Simms' caliber players. Should the draft order determination be reviewed at this year's winter meeting?

JK: You never want an incentive to lose games, and the current system may be fostering that, which would be very dangerous. I've always tried to "reload" and never "rebuild" with my teams, to varying degrees of success, though I'm sure other owners have resigned themselves to the fact that they have to be bad for awhile in hopes of one day being good. I'm not sure what could be done to change the draft process short of putting all teams that don't make it into the playoffs into a lottery (which may end up being looked at) but I don't think it would hurt to at least discuss the issue at the winter meeting. I think I'd be hesitant to a change like this though because I think no matter what "stage" your team is in, you can get a fun experience out the season. For instance, a bad team has to suffer through the season but has the excitement of a high draft pick. A mediocre team experiences the ups and downs of the season, but because of the wild card berth, can still make the playoffs and be proud of that. A good team looks forward to the playoff experience and winning a championship. If you break it down like this, I think each stage of a team's development has something fun to offer, and after all, that's why we play to begin with.

BS: And finally, what kind of vote will it take to pass this proposal? Would a 5-3 or 6-2 vote be good enough or do you hope it's unanimous? Also, feel free to add final words as to why the league would benefit from a one team per owner in the long run.

JK: I think a huge change like this should really be unanimous, especially how far reaching the changes may end up being. I wouldn't want to possibly take someone's team away from them without their full consent because when it comes down to it, this league has been running for so long that those teams are essentially those owners' properties at this point. With that said, I'd like each owner to give the proposal a great deal of thought and think of not only the past, but also the future of the league. I'm a proponent of some kind of change, but even I don't know to what degree I'd be willing to commit to. It's going to take a lot of discussion and I hope to hear from everyone, even those owners who aren't as outspoken. I don't think anyone can be a part of something for this long and put so much time into it without caring deeply about its results, so I'm sure this decision (whatever it may be) will not come quickly or easily. I just want to see what is best for the league and I think through this dialogue, we'll figure it out eventually. I'd like to thank you Bob for moderating these first stages of the process and look forward to talking to each of you about the future of the YFFL and how we can make it better for everybody.