Excerpts from Sam Farmer’s Super Bowl ‘Hall of Farmer’ speaker series

Hall of Farmer


The inaugural Hall of Farmer speaker summit with Times NFL columnist Sam Farmer began with three former players — quarterbacks Carson Palmer and Jim Everett and running back Eric Dickerson — and two prominent women — former Las Vegas Raiders CEO Amy Trask and the wife of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, Jane Skinner Goodell.

Four additional interviews were added Saturday: receiver Andre Reed, running back Terrell Davis, long snapper and Green Beret Nate Boyer, officials analyst Mike Pereira, and broadcaster and pioneer of the Red Zone channel Andrew Siciliano.

Here are excerpts from the interviews:


Carson Palmer

Los Angeles Times NFL Columnist Sam Farmer in conversation with legendary USC Trojan, former Cincinnati Bengal, and NFL All-Pro quarterback Carson Palmer.

On the Bengals’ season: I think when you look at the Cincinnati Bengals roster back in September, and if you would have printed out on a piece of paper and thrown it across the league to every NFL exec, I don’t think there’s one exec that would say, yeah, it looks like a Super Bowl contending team, this roster looks that good.


It’s just been a magical run. They were 10-7 in the regular season. They won three more times than they lost. They found their way into the playoffs in a down year in the AFC North with Lamar Jackson getting hurt and the Steelers being down, but it’s been a snowball.

On Joe Burrow: You can’t fluster him. You can’t shake him. He just has this poise about him. It’s Brady-like. It’s Montana-like.

I’m not trying to heap those expectations and put those on him, but there’s just something about his poise that you don’t see, especially when you factor in he’s 22 years old. He’s in year two. He looks when he’s on the field like he’s in year 12 and he’s 33.

On Burrow getting sacked nine times against Tennessee: I have not been sacked nine times. I’ve probably been sacked four or five, and I’m telling you, every time it’s second and 10 you get sacked, now it’s third and 20, and against an Aaron Donald, Von Miller pass rush, that is really difficult to overcome.

On who is going to win: As special as it would be for the Bengals to take this title home to Cincinnati, I can’t imagine that city on a victory parade Monday or Tuesday. I just don’t know. There’s so much star power, there’s so much firepower. That defensive pass rush the Rams have, the best corner in the game, Stafford, there’s so many All-Stars, Andrew Whitworth, the left tackle, there’s just great, great players. They’ve been there before. A lot of these guys have played in the Super Bowl previously in 2018. I just don’t know if the Bengals have enough firepower to keep up with the Rams.


Eric Dickerson

On holding the single-season rushing records for a rookie and all-time: I’m very proud of those records. People ask me about those. I say, I have a lot more, too, a lot more records, but I think those two are kind of iconic because I did the 1,808 [yards] my first year, my rookie season, and I always say that one is going to last longer because a team doesn’t build an offense around a rookie, and I was fortunate that John Robinson did.

And then I came back the second year and had the 2,000-yard season, so I’m very proud of both of those seasons.

On not getting a car: The year that I broke O.J. [Simpson]’s rushing record, the 2,000-yard record, Walter Payton also broke Jim Brown’s all-time rushing record.

Walter is my friend, and he got a Lamborghini. I mean, saw it in the paper, nice Lamborghini. We was getting close to the record and the guys said, “Man, you probably get a nice car, too.” I’m like, “Well, we’ll see.”

So I’ll never forget, I broke the record and my sponsor was Adidas. Y’all still owe me. They come over to the complex, and it’s a cake and a carrot cake, and I’m like — and the guys are like, Man, what’s — a cake? I couldn’t even eat it because I’m allergic to nuts.


Eric Harris, said, I mean, is there a key in this cake or something?

So basically what I got rushing for 2,000 yards — he was with KangaROOS. He got a Lamborghini, I got a carrot cake.

On his upright running style: It was a blessing and a curse at the same time because people would say, man, you’re not trying hard. You’re not running hard. They would say it to me all the time.

As a matter of fact, one of my first practices when I got to Anaheim with the Rams, we ran a play, like a toss play, and I’m about to follow the guard and the tackle, and John Robinson said, “Stop, stop. Son, you’ve got to run faster than that.”

I said, “Coach, I’m running fast.” He said, “You look like you’re jogging out here.” I said, “I’m not jogging. Get out here and try to catch me.”

On his plethora of pads: I wore everything. I had the goggles, which I hated because I couldn’t see, and then I had the neck roll, and the neck roll really didn’t suffice a purpose, it just looked good.


I had it pulled out. I drilled holes in it and stretched it all the way out. I had my shoulder pads reinforced underneath. I wore a flak jacket under that, and I wore a rib protector. I wore it all.

I had the hip pads. I wore two hip pads. I had knee pads. I put them in the side. I wore, it was called a butt pad, wore that in the back. Knee pads, shin guards, elbow pads, the big round mouthpiece.

Rams punter Johnny Hekker is grateful to be playing in the Super Bowl against the Bengals after nearly losing job before the start of the regular season.

Feb. 11, 2022


Amy Trask

Sam and Amy, the then-CEO of the Las Vegas Raiders, on first meeting 25 years ago: I’m sure there’s people here that might not have been born when we met in our respective careers.... There was no line for the ladies room. And I used to joke about that. There would be a break in the NFL owners’ meetings and all the men would run, there would be a line for the men’s room. I would walk right into the ladies room because there was no one there.

On growing up in L.A., being introduced to football: I fell in love with the game of football when I was in junior high, went to my first-ever football game, a junior high school game. And I just fell in love with the game.

Because, yes, we all know about the speed and the power and the strength of the players, but it’s a very cerebral game. It’s a game of matchups — how does your pass protection work against our pass rush and vice versa? Can your corners cover our receivers and vice versa? Can you play man — and I worked for Al Davis for almost three decades, so you’re playing man — how do your linebackers match with our running backs and vice versa?


On how she joined the Raiders: I fell in love with the Raiders when I was at Cal Berkeley. Everything about the team — you would watch teams play on the road and all the teams, the guys would get off the team bus in their sport coats with their briefcase. Then you’d watch the Raiders get off the bus for a road game, and they’re just tumbling out in their sweats. Like nobody had slept the night before and ragtag.

And what really resonated with me was Al didn’t care if you were labeled a behavior problem.... Well, I was labeled a behavior problem in kindergarten .... and that label stayed with me through 12th grade. Some people would say it’s still an appropriate label.

On what was it like working for Al Davis: The biggest misconception about Al is that he wouldn’t tolerate disagreement or he wouldn’t tolerate anyone who disagreed with him. Because if that were the case I would have been fired about two weeks into my job.

Two weeks into my job, maybe two and a half, I’m sitting in the office with a coworker. Al walks in and rips into this guy like I could only imagine a velociraptor would rip into flesh. As I listened to him talking I realized he was wrong.

Sam, you know I don’t have a dainty voice under any circumstances. But he was yelling. To be heard, I yelled. I said, “Excuse me,” really loudly — firmly, I would say, firmly and loudly and clearly — I said, “excuse me, you’re wrong.”


And I will forever remember the look on his face when his head spun around towards me. It was like Linda Blair in “The Exorcist,” only none of the green stuff.

He looked at me, like, what did you just say? And I said, “look, you’re wrong.” And I went on to explain to him, and it’s heated — I’m yelling, he’s yelling — and I said, “if the facts on which you were basing your conclusion were accurate ... that would be a fair conclusion. But you are basing your conclusion on inaccurate information.”

All the staff is listening to this girl who had been there about two weeks yelling with — one woman even brought boxes because she figured I’d have to pack up my stuff. After a pretty long argument, he said, oh, OK. I gotcha. I got it. And we went on to have a conversation. And I think that set the basis of our relationship because over the course of almost 30 years, I disagreed with him more than I agreed with him. And we argued and we fought.

On the NFL in terms of diversity hirings: Over the course of my career, some terrific, terrific women, it started opening. Jeanne Bonk with the Chargers, Hannah Gordon with the 49ers. So I have seen progress. People ask me when I see progress, am I excited.

Well, when it’s really going to be exciting is when it’s no longer newsworthy. Sure, it’s exciting when we see progress, whether it’s related to race or gender or any type of diversity. But what’s really going to be exciting is when it’s no longer newsworthy because it’s de rigueur.


Super Bowl 2022 matchups: Here are key matchups to watch and several Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals players to keep an eye on.

Feb. 12, 2022


Jim Everett

On Matthew Stafford: The thing that impressed me about Matthew [Stafford], I don’t know if you see all these other quarterbacks, they wear the wristbands with all the plays, you didn’t see that from Matthew. He went right from — if you know anything about offenses, it’s like different languages. You go from French to Spanish to whatever system you’re running.

As a matter of fact, Bernie Kosar in his first eight years had to learn eight new offensive systems because they kept rotating people out. Matthew just took it upon himself to understand all the verbiage from [Sean] McVay, which is huge. So that’s the kind of pro he is.

The thing I see with Matthew Stafford from a quarterback standpoint is he manipulates the defense as well as anybody in the league. Now, you could say, OK, Patrick Mahomes, he has all these wild throws, Russ does all this crazy stuff, but what you see in the pocket from Matthew, for example, if I need to move my safeties over here, he’s going to bring everybody over here. It’s just even the smallest things just to create space over there. Then he’ll whip right back and do it.

On quarterbacks being protected more than when he played: It was survival of the fittest. 1997 was all the rule change. I retired in 1998. So I got a minute of that, but they were still trying to figure out what the rules were.

But the idea was, if you could take out John Elway, you could take out Dan Marino, you could take out Jim Everett, then you have a much better chance to win. You know, ball’s gone, and as long as you’re within one step of the quarterback, free game.


And that’s when I look at [the] Kyler Murrays of the world, the Patrick Mahomes, I don’t think during our era that they could survive, but the game has changed. I’m not saying I’m not an advocate of it because I am. I think that I’m paying the guy 30, 40 million a year, I want him on the field. I don’t want him out with an ACL. So it makes a lot of sense.

Joe Burrow has never forgotten his hometown of The Plains, Ohio, and the feeling is mutual — residents love and support the Bengals quarterback.

Feb. 10, 2022


Jane Skinner Goodell

On her first impression of Los Angeles: You know, it’s funny, my first thoughts are actually of my husband, Roger, because when we started dating, he was really obsessed with getting a team back to L.A. Never even dreaming there would be two teams in L.A., and the thought of having a brand new stadium and a Super Bowl and then a home team playing has kind of blown his mind, I think.

I just think back to when we were dating and he would talk about it all the time, he’s like, I have this thing, I really would like to see it back in L.A., it’s such a great market, and the fact it doesn’t have football doesn’t make sense to me. I mean, you’ve lived it, right; it’s such a long time coming.

On her project, ‘A Lifetime of Sundays’ that focuses on women in the NFL: When you start with Virginia McCaskey — her dad started the NFL in 1920. She still owns the Chicago Bears. She’s 99 years old, still goes to all the games, which is mind-boggling.

...I sat down with her at Halas Hall and said, “What’s your first memory,” and she said, “it’s 1927, I was with my mom,” the Bears were playing this game and they used to play in Wrigley Field, she could name the seat number, the box that they would sit in, and said, “I learned the game of football from my mom,” and I’m like, Oh, my God, this is something. This is going to be kind of something for history.


Andre Reed

On the resurgence of the Buffalo Bills: I think this team is definitely on the right track. It all started five years ago with Sean McDermott getting hired and hiring a really good GM that’s been around. Those two guys have been around each other for a long time. They were in Carolina.

Then they got the quarterback that they thought would be where he is right now. You know, Josh is not only a great person — I had a chance to meet him draft day there in Dallas when he got drafted, but he’s just an outstanding person.

On the night he was inducted into the Hall of Fame: Well, your football life just flashes before your face in like five seconds. All the way from a little Pop Warner tiny kid to the last time you played a down in the NFL. All that in between, there’s so many different people, so many pats on the back, so many kicks in the butt, so many you’re this, you’re that, you can’t do this, I thought you were this.

Then you get the lessons you learned from your parents, and my dad, unfortunately, passed away in ’96 before I was inducted, but I felt he was looking down on me during my speech. I mean, they take bets on who’s going to cry, and mostly you tear up because it’s everybody that touched you in your life, that said something to you that resonated with your career.

On seeing Michael Jackson before his halftime show at the last Super Bowl played in L.A.: I remember walking into the tunnel ... and I just happened to glance out the corner of my eye, even though I was focused about the game, and Michael Jackson was standing there, like he looked like a mannequin. He just was standing there.


I go, look, that dude is ready to perform. Like that’s his stage. He’s not going to fail. He’s not going to slip. He’s not going to do anything. And that’s what the attitude we had to have coming back out.


Terrell Davis

On what it takes to win a Super Bowl: I look at the matchups and try to figure out where the teams have the advantage, where they don’t, and what would be ultimately the decision or the key factor in this game.

And I just keep coming back to the Rams defensive front. And it kind of reminds me of like the Broncos in Super Bowl 50, where they had Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware. They had Malik Jackson. They had this front that was just dominating.

On teams bringing in a veteran quarterback to get to the Super Bowl: When the Broncos won the Super Bowl [in 2013] it was — Peyton Manning had dropped off dramatically. He didn’t have the arm strength anymore. So you can see him starting to slide. And then the team had a really good defense. They had a running game and enough of a passing game, because it’s Peyton Manning; you still have to remain honest on defense.

We witnessed last year Tom Brady leaving the Patriots going to Tampa Bay, a plug-and-play system where you take a quarterback, which it was unheard of before that, unheard of before last year.


Now, you’ve got Matthew Stafford. You just got him on the team. You’re in a Super Bowl. So, Sam, you think this is not a model for the teams?


Nate Boyer

On being a Green Beret: I grew up a 49ers fan, which is important to the story.... Fast-forward to graduating high school, didn’t really know what I wanted to do, what I wanted to study. Had a lot of passion but not a lot of work ethic.... Came up to Los Angeles at 19, interested in film and TV, not really knowing where to start and all that. After living here for about a year, 9/11 happened.

I didn’t join the military right away, but it got me thinking about it and thinking a little more globally, and eventually a couple of years later I ... started studying up and learned about the Army special forces, the Green Berets, and their motto was “De Oppresso Liber,” which means free the oppressed, which spoke to me in a big way, and then I read about how part of what they do is there’s a humanitarian side to the work and foreign internal defense.

[After deployment] I came back to the States [at age 29] and finished up my time on active duty, and then went — moved to Austin, got enlisted — applied to University of Texas.... I started long snapping just to find a way on to the field. It’s one of those thankless jobs people don’t really know about. I barely knew what a long snapper was when I got there, but I started practicing it. I reenlisted in the National Guard.

On making the NFL, a one-in-a-billion story: I get to play in one preseason game in 2015 before I did get cut. It did end. I ultimately failed, right.... It’s like a sell-out crowd for a preseason game, and I’m snapping balls, I look to my right, and Peyton Manning is there in his final season warming up, and that was that moment where I’m like, wow, what am I doing here.


I go in the locker room, and the equipment manager says, hey, do you want to lead the team out of the tunnel with the American flag, we know you got to do it in college and we were wondering if you want to do it for this game, and I was like, I would love that honor.

So took the flag, lead the team out of the tunnel, place is going crazy, and right before the game starts, of course the announcer says, “Would everyone please rise for the national anthem....” I put my hand on my heart and the song starts playing and all these emotions and kind of recalling my experience, and the guys that I know that didn’t make it back and the ones that are struggling back home and veteran suicide is a big issue, people that are coming back and not feeling like they fit in, all these things are like running through my head, and I just started bawling. I was like, overcome, overwhelmed.

On writing a letter to Colin Kaepernick: One year later almost to the day is when Colin started sitting on the bench during the national anthem, and when interviewed about it, he said, I’m doing this because of social injustice in this country and I’m not going to stand for the flag of a country that oppresses Black people and people of color.

From my experience, I didn’t feel that that was what the flag stood for, and for me, those symbols mean something very different, but that’s because of my relationship with them and my experiences. I don’t have a similar experience to Colin Kaepernick or any person of color for that matter.

So I wrote this open letter to Colin through the Army Times just about my experiences, how I felt, but also saying, look, this is how I feel, but that doesn’t mean this is the only way.... Also I said, Colin, I’m not going to pretend to know what it’s like to be you or what you’re feeling, and I’ve got to say that what you’re doing, it is brave. Whether I agree with it or not, it’s very courageous.... It went kind of viral, and he ended up reaching out and said that he wanted to meet, and they were playing the San Diego Chargers at the time in that final preseason game that week, and it’s Military Appreciation Night, 9/11 is approaching, and they’re going to do a flyover with Navy Seals jumping in the stadium and full honors on the field and Colin is saying, I’m not going to stand, I’m going to sit during the anthem, I’m going to sit on the bench.


So I go down there and meet him, and man, I will say he had nothing but respect for me, and we were both nervous.... I am not fully read on ... all of the reasons why he was doing what he was doing beyond just police officers not being held accountable when we have situations where unarmed people of color are being killed. It’s so much more than that, so much deeper than that.

He just asked me, hey, do you think there’s a way that I can still protest that’s not going to offend people in the military, and I was like, man, I mean, I don’t speak for the military or the veteran community, so in my opinion, I think being alongside your teammates is really important. I think that’s a good message. He said, I understand that, but I’ve committed to not standing during the anthem, so I don’t know if I can do that. I said, well, what if you took a knee. I just kind of threw it out there.

I thought in my experience, in my recollection anyway, I couldn’t think of a time where kneeling was seen as disrespect. People take a knee to pray and propose to their future spouse, and when a player on the field is hurt in a football game, a lot of the other players will take a knee out of respect until they’re shouldered off.... He said, I think that’s a good idea.

I said, but Colin, I’ll stand next to you if you’re willing to do this. So that night ... I stood next to Colin and he took a knee, and the anthem started to play, a Black Navy sailor sang the anthem, and people in the audience booed. Not everybody, of course, but that’s what I remember, that uncomfortability of hearing that.


Andrew Siciliano

On the birth of the Red Zone channel: I can’t physically watch and process 10 games at once, so we have a control room that has been together for years and years and years, and I have spotters and researchers there who have been there for years. A lot of our crew has been there 14, 15 of the 17 years.


We all kind of think with one brain, and we’re able to figure out where to go. The biggest thing for us is if we have good games we’re going to have a good show, and we want to make sure that the viewer at home never does have to pick up his remote and never does miss anything of any significance.

It started as — hence the name Red Zone Channel.

On the Rams’ chances of winning the Super Bowl: It does kind of scare me a little bit, it’s setting up so perfectly well for the Rams. Even with Andrew Whitworth winning the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, Cooper Kupp winning the Offensive Player of the Year Award, third-round pick, 69th overall pick.... didn’t play in the previous Super Bowl, now he’s ready to play, his teammate Robert Woods blew his knee out, did play in 53 but can’t play in 56.

There are so many forces coming together, I hate the cliché, it’s a Hollywood script, but it does seem that way.


Mike Pereira

On being the rules analyst for Fox Sports: I never thought I would necessarily end up in the media because I really didn’t appreciate the media. They would just get on the officials so bad, and half of my battle when I worked with the league was trying to educate the announcers on the rules so at least what they said would be correct. From an official’s standpoint, honestly, it was very difficult to get criticized by someone who’s never officiated before who doesn’t know the rule and is incorrect in his criticism.

Troy [Aikman] used to ride my butt all the time about certain rules and the way that we called things, and then when I decided to leave the NFL and move back to the West, I got a call when it was announced, I got a call from [executive producer] David Hill who said, ‘You’re not going to retire. We’re going to put something together for you.’


Even though he had no idea what it was going to be, he just knew that fans wanted to know the rules, and so since I had this really good relationship with him over the years going each year to their seminars, he said, You’re coming with us. That’s kind of how it all started.

On becoming an NFL official at age 46: Before you get in the NFL you have to have psychological tests. You have the FBI that comes out and does background checks on you and walks your neighborhood. You have to go to New York and meet with all the powers to be in New York, and I went through this whole process, and didn’t really think I would get in. But I did, in 1996.

On having to criticize fellow officials on the air: I don’t think it was difficult because the one thing that I said to them is that I would just disagree with respect, that you would never use bad words, the words like horrible, blown call, terrible. I would never do that, that I would say I disagreed because, and then I would explain to it. I never would say anything worse than disagree. I think with the exception of once, of one time, I think I’ve stayed to that.


Leigh Steinberg