It’s been nearly two decades since the National Football League has had a franchise that called Los Angeles home.
The two teams that played their games in America’s second largest city, the Rams and the Raiders, packed their bags for what they felt was greener pastures in St. Louis and Oakland, respectively, at the end of the 1994 season.
With the owners of those two clubs wanting new stadiums, those pastures aren’t so green anymore, but that’s besides the point.
Ever since the Rams’ and Raiders’ departure, various groups in L.A. have been trying to get a new stadium built so that the NFL – who sees the Memorial Coliseum as a decrepit old building with no luxury skyboxes that ought to be condemned and torn down – would come running and put a team back in the nation’s second largest market.
Those efforts have hit obstacle after obstacle, to the point where people are pessimistic that anything will be done anytime soon.
Which ultimate may well be not such a bad thing as besides the lack of viable stadium plan and the fact that the average fan will never get to see such team in person due to personal seat license costs that run in the thousands, on top of the ticket prices that run into the hundreds in the end zone seats…
This big, bad NFL – the most popular sports league in this country, has too many bad issues for this city to get their hands into.
Three come to mind:
Those who don’t know about Jonathan Martin leaving the Miami Dolphins in frustration over Richie Incognito allegedly being an absolute thug and bully toward him for far too long have been living under a rock on Mars for these past few weeks.
It goes without saying that if those allegations are proven true, Incognito needs to be treated like a member of the 1919 Chicago Black Sox and banned from ever playing in the NFL again – or any kind of football for that matter.
The deeper issue, however, is the locker room culture that those Miami offensive linemen and their teammates have talked about in subsequent interviews, a culture that sees bullying and intense hazing as a rite of passage, a way to “toughen up” rookies to prepare them for the rough brutality of the NFL.
It’s one thing to make a newbie wear feet pajamas and carry a Barney backpack on the road; It’s a whole other thing to text vile racial epithets to someone.
I know full well that not every team has that sort of harassment, but one team that does or supports bullying and thuggery is too many in my book.
And why should Los Angeles support a team that does or may do that sort of thing?
2. BOUNTY HUNTING ON THE FIELD
The New Orleans Saints’ scandal, in which players were paid bonus money from coaches to intentionally hurt opponents, has been well documented, and the perpetrators – head coach Sean Payton and others – have served their time for their sins.
I think it’s common knowledge that the only thing that those Saints did that at least some, if not many, of the other 31 NFL teams didn’t do in this case was get caught.
I don’t know about anyone else, but I really don’t see why L.A. should support a team that encourages their players to intentionally maim people, put them out of commission for the season or even end their careers.
What message does that teach all those kids who play Pop Warner football; what if an eight-year old linebacker tried to tear the knee of an nine-year old running back or give him a concussion because he saw his favorite player do it on a Sunday afternoon?
Los Angeles doesn’t need those kinds of role models.
3. HEALTH AND FINANCIAL ISSUES OF RETIRED PLAYERS
I understand that regarding the well-documented issues of former NFL players dying in their 50s due to things like brain injuries and other mental and physical issues, many fans will say:
“No one forced them to play football; they know the risks and many of them have said that they’d do it again!”
The news of Tony Dorsett, the former Dallas Cowboys star and Hall-of-Famer, announcing that he is dealing with memory loss due to his many years getting whacked upside the head on the field is merely the latest example of what to me is a tragic travesty.
Junior Seau dying in a car crash and Dave Duerson shooting himself in the chest so that the doctors could examine his brain are obvious examples of former stars ultimately not being able to deal with the physical problems that they left the NFL with.
The fact that the NFL was essentially forced to give their ex-players better pensions and medical insurance after much arm-twisting- and it’s still inadequate – sickens me.
That tells me that no matter what commissioner Roger Goodell says, the NFL ultimately doesn’t really care about the people who have made it so popular – the players.
Their careers average just three and a half to four years, their average pay is far less than their baseball and basketball counterparts…
This is why if I had a son, I would rigorously steer him into baseball, where the pay, security and shelf life is much, much better.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
With the NFL having the issues it is having – the bullying, the bounty hunting and the neglect of its ex-players – why the heck should the City of Angels sell its soul to that league?
Why should it make itself a captive slave to greedy owners who are only interested in making a profit of billions any way they can?
I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m very happy with our two collegiate football teams at UCLA and USC, thank you very much.
At least no one has to worry about those Bruins or Trojans holding out of training camp, and $30 – rather than $300 – can get you a seat at the Rose Bowl or the Coliseum to see them.
Although it’s not my intention to speak for the over ten million people who populate the greater L.A. area and who love watching their Steelers, Eagles and 49ers in sports bars, what I’m trying to say is this:
Los Angeles has gotten along just fine without the NFL for nearly two decades, so unless they get their issues settled once and for all, L.A. doesn’t need or want them!