Here’s the third and final installment of Sport Change’s exploration of the NFL moving to Los Angeles. In this post, we’ll keep it simple: analyzing results and playing out scenarios.
One Team in LA
For starters, we’ll examine the impact of a single team moving to LA. Let’s explore all five of the Sport Change top teams to move to LA list.
-St. Louis Rams. This scenario was played out in the Vision of Reversion. On the surface, it makes a ton of sense. The Rams have issues with the Edward Jones Dome; both with the lease and with the actual facility itself. Los Angeles would certainly welcome the Rams back with open arms and the NFC West would be more westerly. The problem here is that St. Louis would still want a team, much like they did when the Cardinals flew out of town. A sudden relocation would open a wound in the Gateway City, and without a backup plan it could get ugly.
-Jacksonville Jaguars. With the Jags recently signing on to play one game per season in London for the next four years, maybe Shad Khan has his sights set on Britain rather than California. A more likely situation would be the Jags losing lots of games and money which would cause Khan to sell the team in a manically mustaschioed frenzy. If the Jaguars moved to LA, the biggest issue would be divisional alignment. There is really no good way it could work out. The four teams in the AFC West are going nowhere. The only thing I could see (other than an LA team in the East) would be switching conferences with St. Louis, and having the Rams play in the AFC South with the Colts, Titans, and Texans. Even better: the Jaguars move to LA, but buy the “Rams” brand and become the LA Rams. St. Louis gets a new identity and joins the AFC South. That would work. Not going to happen, though.
-San Diego Chargers. Touched on plenty of details in the previous post, but this one is simple and straightforward. The Los Angeles Chargers begin play as a top contender in the AFC West, with a franchise quarterback and an aging defense.
-Oakland Raiders. The return of the Raiders to Los Angeles reignites the dormant fan base that embraced them wholeheartedly for the twelve years they played in the Coliseum. Divisional alignment remains as it is, and Oaklanders would have to either keep cheering for the LA Raiders or switch allegiance to the Niners. This would be the easiest move to get used to.
-Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This would be a bit of a shock to the NFL’s system. Just like with the Jaguars, the only alignment that would make half-sense would be to switch divisions with the Rams.
What about two teams in LA?
As much talk as there has been about moving one team to LA, there has been just as much talk about moving two teams. One scenario would have both teams sharing a stadium much in the same way that the Meadowlands or the Staples Center operate. This would likely be the downtown proposal: Farmers Field. The other discussion that was hot about a year ago was that in addition to Farmers Field, there would be another stadium built in the outskirts of LA, in the City of Industry. There’s no opinion here one way or the other, but let’s explore a handful of scenarios involving two teams moving to LA.
-Rams and Raiders. The Retro Revert. Both teams that fled LA in the nineties return to the city. There would be plenty of fans for both teams, and many people would simply shift back into the team that they used to pull for. The franchises could reassume their histories, and the divisional alignments would be made even more efficient than it is now. Georgia Frontiere and Al Davis have both passed on; the opportunities for mended hearts are present. I like the Raiders in Oakland, though.
-Raiders and Chargers. The California Collision. One goes north, one goes south, and they both collide simultaneously in Los Angeles. An already fierce rivalry would be intensified, especially if both teams shared a stadium. The AFC West would be: Los Angeles, Los Angeles, Denver, and Kansas City.
-Rams and Chargers. Happy in NorCal, Sad in SoCal. Oakland gets to keep their Raiders, yet Los Angeles gets two teams that come ready to cheer for. Everybody wins. Except San Diego. And St. Louis. This would give St. Louis a few years to rebuild the EJD and lure a Floridian team–one which is bound to be in shambles by then. Speaking of Florida…
-Jaguars and Buccaneers. The Fleeing of Florida. Two teams leave Florida for California simultaneously? What–are the oranges better? The NFL is rocked by two Southeasterners fleeing for the West Coast. The simplest way to realign would be to send the Show-Me State teams to their respective Souths. Can you imagine the Chiefs and Raiders playing in separate divisions? Yikes. Moving cross-country would cut some new wounds.
-Jaguars and Rams. This would be an AFC realignment. Let’s do a Chiefs-to-South, but take a wackier, less-plausible route to get there. What the hell. Chiefs and Dolphins to South, Colts to North, and Ravens to East. That makes sense geographically, but a simple Dolphins to South, Colts to East would suffice as well.
-Jaguars and Raiders/Chargers. This would see two LA teams in the AFC West, meaning that the Chiefs or Broncos would get squeezed out. Ouch.
-Buccaneers and Raiders/Chargers. Let’s say Raiders so there can be two pirate teams in LA. AFC is unchanged. In the NFC, I think the choice is to send St. Louis to the NASCAR division, aka the NFC South. Saints/Rams is a nice Mississippi River Rivalry. What do St. Louis fans care? They’ve only had the Rams since 1995 anyway.
-Buccaneers and Rams. All NFC, interesting. The Bucs would join the NFC West, but there are no St. Louis Rams to send to the South. The Seahawks and Niners aren’t going anywhere, so Arizona would be sent to the South, right? No point. There would likely be an LA team flying to Atlanta, Charlotte, and New Orleans. Unless Arizona moved to St. Louis and Jacksonville moved to Arizona. That would leave all Florida to the Dolphins, like it was in their glory days.
One thing I’ve learned from this exercise is that simply moving the Jacksonville Jaguars to Los Angeles would be a nightmare. Whenever Bleacher Report or ESPN or whoever insist that the Jags are Hollywood bound, point out that if that were to happen, either one of two painful things would occur. 1.) Los Angeles would still play in the AFC South, which would include routine, annual flights to Nashville, Houston, and Indianapolis–which is three time zones removed from LA. 2.) Either the Chiefs or the Broncos would be shipped to the South. KC makes more geographic sense, but that would be a sad day for football. The four teams currently in the AFC West have played in the same division since the Chiefs moved to KC from Dallas in the early sixties. The AFL Western Division in 1963 was identical to the current AFC West. It would be tough to break that up. I would much rather see the Rams simply move to Los Angeles, let St. Louis investors (*cough* Stan Kroenke *cough*) bring the Edward Jones Dome up to snuff, and lure a team like the Jaguars to the Gateway City. That would be a much better route to go.
Which is your favorite scenario? Mine is the Vision of Reversion, but I’d settle for the St. Louis Jaguars or the St. Louis Buccaneers. They may have to change the name though. Stallions are still waiting in the stables, but there are already two horse teams in football. If Arizona holds hard to the Cards, what would a good name for St. Louis be?
Speaking of brands, what are your suggestions for a new LA brand? Rams, Raiders, and Chargers would all make sense to keep, but the Florida teams would be better off changing. Imagine starting off from scratch and branding an NFL team as the Los Angeles ___. What about Wolves? Or the Spanish version, the Los Angeles Lobos. That might be a little campy, though. What are your suggestions? The rules: it has to end in S. Non-singularable/Non-pluralable nicknames (Heat, Lightning, Thundering Herd, whatever) have yet to penetrate the NFL, and we’re keeping it that way. My vote is for Wolves, straight up. Too many cats, not enough dogs.
Enough about LA. Keeping with the season, Sport Change will keep serving up football posts. Stay posted and leave comments.