Thursday, August 13, 2015

Meanwhile, in L.A. ...

And now, while Roger Goodell's phalanx of attorneys square off against Tom Brady's phalanx of attorneys in front of a judge who all but rolled his eyes at both sides yesterday ... we return you to our regularly scheduled NFL programming.

No, not "All In The (Jets) Family," in which Meathead (IK Enemkpali) punches Archie (Geno Smith) and breaks his jaw, and then, through a series of zany escapades, winds up with a family (the Bills) just as dysfunctional as the Jets.

And, no, not "Dude, Where's My Car?" in which 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick supposedly gets into a training camp fight with troubled defensive end Aldon Smith over a car, or a woman, or doesn't get into a fight at all.

 No, this one involves the NFL's ongoing pursuit of another franchise in Los Angeles, which got ratcheted up this week when a bunch of owners met in Chicago to discuss, well, another franchise in Los Angeles. The owners of the St, Louis Rams, San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders are all currently holding guns to their respective cities' heads, threatening to move to L.A. if their demands are not met.

Facilitating blackmail has been L.A.'s role since the Rams fled the city for St. Louis in the first place, and it's been damn good at it. Won't invest millions of taxpayer dollars to build me a new stadium I could easily pay for myself, and which will largely benefit only myself? Fine, I'll move to L.A. And you can use that money to fix your infrastructure or improve your schools or whatever sorry excuse you have for not handing it over to me.

Well, now it appears there really is going to be a team jumping to L.A. soon -- with the NFL's blessing, because the NFL has been trying to get back into the nation's second-largest media market since the Rams left. It'll be strictly a money grab when it happens, because the irony is L.A. itself has always been lukewarm at best about professional football.

Four franchises in three leagues have tried to make a go of it in the City of Angels, and only the Rams have ever been able to make it work for any length of time.

The Chargers, who now want to move back, were originally the Los Angeles Chargers as a charter member of the AFL, only to flee yawning L.A. after one year. The Rams hung around but were never that big a draw, even though they were very good most of the time, which is likely the only reason they stuck it out as long as they did. The Raiders moved to L.A. because Al Davis got mad at Oakland, then moved back because he got mad at L.A. for not wholeheartedly embracing him.

Then there was L.A Express, which never drew more than 32,000 fans to the cavernous Coliseum, and collapsed along with the rest of the USFL after a couple of seasons.

Truth is, any pro football franchise has to compete for the affections of L.A. with the city's true heartthrob, the USC Trojans. USC football has always ruled in Southern California, and when USC football wasn't ruling L.A., the beaches and all the other attractions of SoCal were. That's not likely to change with yet another pro football team landing on the premises.

So, we'll see.  One thing's for sure: If someone finally does relocate to L.A., every other owner in the league will take a serious hit. How will they strong-arm their cities once the threat of moving to L.A. is off the table?

Look, this isn't sustainable. I need a new stadium, with more luxury boxes and a better sound system and a chocolate fountain and a videoboard the size of the Titanic. And more lounge chairs, the kind with that vibrating lumbar thing. And a dog run for my Pomeranians, Spike and Killer. So, pay up. If you refuse, I'll move the team to ... to ... Billings. Yeah, that's right, Billings.

And all the people laughed.

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