We Love L.A. (Football)!

The worst kept secret in sports is that the NFL will be returning to Los Angeles, probably in time for the 2012 or 2013 season.  It seems like every couple of weeks there’s a new frontrunner for which team is supposedly making the jump to the nation’s second-largest market.  The fantastic website footballphds.com just did an extensive review of which team is most likely to come to town, so this article is meant to explore which team we most want to carry the Los Angeles banner.  Since football is the new American pastime (sorry, baseball), the decision of which team we want to bear our name is not one to be taken lightly.  Even after 16 years without an NFL franchise, Los Angeles is still a desireable enough market that we get the right to be picky about which team we want to root for.

There are seven teams that are currently being considered, although some are clearly more likely than others.  Each of the teams rumored to be thinking about a move to LA is rated in five categories: tradition, Los Angeles connection, marketability, current roster, and overall.

*Full disclosure: I moved to the area long after the Rams and Raiders played their last home games in Southern California and grew up a fan of the Miami Dolphins.  I have no particular loyalty for any of the teams being considered for LA.  My only interest is in getting my adopted home town the best possible team.

1. St. Louis Rams – Look, this is no knock on St. Louis. It’s a great sports town that totally deserves a team, but take the Cardinals back or something (Lord knows Phoenix doesn’t need a team).  The Rams belong to LA.  They were the Los Angeles Rams for nearly 50 years before She-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named made them the first people to ever voluntarily move from the West Coast to the Midwest.  They have a young, up-and-coming roster and Sam Bradford looks like the real deal.  In a town driven by star power, having a marquee quarterback and a recognizeable name to put on billboards actually makes a big difference in mareketing to a new fanbase.  Spending their last few California years in Anaheim hurts their attractiveness to the fans in LA proper and the valley, while the Chargers have encroached on the Orange County fanbase during the Rams’ 16-year absence. On the other hand there’s a whole activist group dedicated to bringing the Rams home.  I’m guessing there’s no such thing as a “Bring the Bills to LA” group.

Tradition – 7/10

LA Connection – 10/10

Marketability – 8/10

Current Roster – 7/10

Overall – 10/10

Ram It – 10/10

2. San Diego Chargers – The Chargers seem to be the most likely candidate to be the first team to come to LA (there’s still a chance we could get two teams).  The Chargers have a lot of things going for them.  They have a pretty loaded roster starting with one of the five best QBs in the league in Phillip Rivers.  They’ve also had a pretty successful run over the last six or seven years and made a good name for themselves in Orange County and parts of LA county.  Plus, they were the Los Angeles Chargers for their inaugural season in 1960 so they do have a little bit of a past connection to the city.  They also have uniforms that are among the best in the league (especially those baby-blue alternates) that would sell like hotcakes in a new market.  On the downside, Norv Turner is so bad he was fired by the Redkins and  Raiders and some of their key players are getting older and the team may be on the verge of fading.

Tradition – 5/10

LA Connection – 4/10

Marketability – 9/10

Current Roster – 10/10

Overall – 8/10

Ram It – 0/10

3. Oakland Raiders – There’s no denying the fact that a lot of Los Angeles fans still love the Raiders.  For a team that spent just a little over a decade in town, they left a lasting impression on LA football fans.  And it’s hard to argue the appeal of a team with silver-and-black uniforms and a pirate logo.  They were so cool in the 80s and early 90s that other area teams even changed their uniforms to cash in on the Raiders’ popularity.  In 1983, they brought Los Angeles its only Super Bowl title, but they never really felt like they were truly LA’s team.  In a way, it always felt like we were borrowing Oakland’s team similar to how we currently have our team on loan to St. Louis.  On top of that, the Raiders have been absolutely pathetic since Super Bowl XXXVII and in a town that still has a franchise owned by Donald Sterling, the last thing we need is Al Davis.

Tradition – 8/10

LA Connection – 7/10

Marketability – 10/10

Current Roster – 4/10

Overall – 8/10

Ram It – 0/10

4. Jacksonville Jaguars – Let’s face it, the Jaguars are a pretty lame franchise with little history.  They’ve had little success on the field and seem to never get noticed even when they do manage to contend for a year or two.  But at least they’re a recent enough franchise that the stink isn’t too deeply embedded into the fabric of the team.  Plus, if they moved to LA, they would most likely be rebranded with a new name, colors (hopefully no more teal), and uniforms.  It would almost be like starting from scratch without having to suffer through the growing pains of an true expansion franchise.  They do have former UCLA standout Maurice Jones-Drew, which would help them with marketing but there are few other marquee players on the roster.

Tradition – 0/10

LA Connection – 1/10

Marketability – 6/10

Current Roster – 5/10

Overall – 5/10

Ram It – 0/10

5. Minnesota Vikings – We’re starting to get into the teams that have almost no chance of actually coming here and are probably definitely just using LA as leverage to get their own cities to build them a new stadium.  The Vikings own the sports landscape in Minnesota so there’s pretty much no way they’re going anywhere.  It would be like the Yankees moving to North Carolina or the Red Wings moving to Houston.  The only positive here would be the comedy value of Minneapolis losing both the Lakers and Vikings to Los Angeles.  That and getting to watch Adrian Peterson for another year ot two before his legs fall off.

Tradition – 6/10

LA Connection – 0/10

Marketability – 5/10

Current Roster – 6/10

Overall – 3/10

Ram It – 0/10

6. San Francisco 49ers – The idea of the 49ers moving south is so absurd that I hesitate to even put them on this list.  However, their name keeps getting thrown around as one of the potentials so it’s worth commenting on.  The 49ers are one of the NFL’s great franchises so it’s hard to envision them leaving the bay area and “Los Angeles 49ers” just sounds so wrong.  Plus, San Francisico is Los Angeles’ biggest rival city and the 49ers have long-standing rivalries with both the Raiders and Rams so there’s a lot of animosity towards them among LA football fans.  The only advantage would be sticking it to San Fran by stealing their team.

Tradition – 10/10

LA Connection – 0/10

Marketability – 4/10

Current Roster – 5/10

Overall – 2/10

Ram It – 0/10

7. Buffalo Bills – I’ve heard the Inland Empire is looking for a team and Riverside Bills has a nice ring to it.  No upside here.

Tradition – 6/10

LA Connection – 0/10

Marketability – 3/10

Current Roster – 1/10

Overall – 0/10

Ram It – 0/10

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2 thoughts on “We Love L.A. (Football)!

  1. As a Riverside resident, I gotta say the Riverside Bills (or anything else) would be pretty awesome. It sounds crazy, but the IE is a much larger market than many other US markets that currently have pro teams. However, as a betrayed, third-generation Rams fan, I think that the Rams are the most acceptable team to come to LA.
    That said, having lost my team as a kid, it seems awfully cruel to take anyone else’s team now. I have a lot of sympathy for the fans in the St. Louis area and all the other regions that are faced with losing their teams. Ideally, it’d be great if St. Louis could still have a franchise, we could get an expansion team and name it the Rams. They could have the St. Louis ___. This scenario is extremely unlikely, of course, but the win-win aspect is appealing.

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