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This Just In: Winners of the Team Name Game

April 07, 1999|CHRIS ERSKINE

So here I am lying in bed--the peristyle end of the bed, the end with the Olympic rings up on the headboard--trying to determine a favorite name for a new pro football team. The Gladiators. The Condors. The Implants. It's not as easy as it sounds.

"This is a big responsibility," I tell my wife.

"Sleeping?" she asks.

"I'm not sleeping," I explain. "I'm trying to pick a name."

For two weeks, these names have been coming at me, ever since I made a couple of suggestions, then invited readers to send in their own.

Like blitzing linebackers, the suggestions came in. Good names, bad names, funny names, grumpy names. They came by phone. They came by mail. Mostly, they came by e-mail--every minute of every day.

"I have long thought it an embarrassment, not unlike the United terminal at LAX, that Los Angeles has no football team," writes Maureen McGreet. "When we do acquire a franchise, which I expect will be before United completes the terminal . . . I propose that it be named the L.A. Traffic."

Some readers took the challenge quite seriously. Thankfully, most didn't. Many of the entries came from places of employment, which sort of restores your faith in the American worker.

"You're going to get a lot of silly suggestions for a team name, many disparaging ones reflecting [other] states' perception of California," wrote Patti Garrity. "But here's a good one: the Triumph. One word, as in Jazz, Avalanche, etc."

One person suggested the Ocelots. Another, the Friars.

One guy suggested a corporate tie-in, the Horned Chihuahuas (Taco Bell). Or the Galloping Goofys, a reference, of course, to our local politicians.

"I think Pioneers would be a good name because pioneers came to California," a 12-year-old named Alice suggested, then mentioned that since she was only 12 and had two older brothers I might have sympathy enough to include her suggestion, something I would never ever do.

Lots of people suggested the Los Angeles Knights. Others, inspired by the Bob Seger song, want to call a new team the Hollywood Knights.

Another popular suggestion: the Riots, a civic nightmare we might want to put past us if possible. Sort of like the Raiders and the Clippers.

Lots of readers took the opportunity to poke fun at L.A. of all places, the little city by the sea, a town that always generates a lot of envy. It's disguised as ill will, but it's actually envy.

"There can be only one name for the new NFL team, a name that perfectly reflects the Southern California lifestyle: The L.A. Lemmings!" wrote someone from Culver City, itself a national treasure.

"The Velvet Smog," wrote Tom Holwager of Calabasas, taking a negative, like smog, and packaging it with a positive, like velvet, to create one of my favorite entries.

"How about the L.A. LAsers?" the Delashmitt family suggested, especially proud of the cute capitalization. "Or maybe they will build a stadium near the airport and the team could be called the L.A. LAXatives."

"I'm torn between the Smog Alerts and the Ozone Layers," wrote Jim Chilton.

Many readers played into the Coliseum connection, suggesting the Romans, the Gladiators and the Centurions, all of which would be interesting choices.

Others expect that a pro team in L.A. will not last long. They think the name should reflect the team's temporary stature. The Road Warriors, said one. The Temps, suggested another.

"If L.A. gets an NFL franchise, I suggest the name Los Angeles Bekins, with a little moving van on the helmet," wrote one reader from San Diego, apparently a city with lots of pent-up cynicism, which I admire in a city. "They are going to move to Tupelo in two years anyway."

High on the list were smug references to some of the area's more notorious symbols.

"I think Implants would be a good name, in recognition of our high per-capita rate of cosmetic surgeons," wrote Andy Peterson, just one of many people to suggest Implants, along with the Bust and the Silicones.

"I think the team should be called the No J's," wrote Steve Aronson. "We should have our own group [of referees] to enforce the rules on the field--Superficials."

So as you can see, there are lots of fine prospects. Here are my five superficial favorites.

1. The Stars: After the Implants, it was the most frequent suggestion. "[The Stars} is a name that is shiny, distinctive and flashy," one reader said. Lots of readers favored some sort of show-business connection. So this one's for you. Go Stars!

2. The Lasers: I'd vote to skip the capitalization. Just Lasers. "Imagine the Coliseum in the early evening ringed with laser lights . . . highlighting the introductions and spectacular plays," wrote Richard Sterz.

3. The Condors: I like this name a lot. The condor is a bigger bird than a falcon or an eagle. I also like the Thunderbirds, which, according to legend, have the wingspan of a barn. Go T-Birds!

4. The Gladiators: The Gladiators, playing in the Coliseum, a popular choice sent in by dozens of readers. Or maybe the Romans, coached by Roman Gabriel, in honor of our past. We have a past, right? Go Glads!

And finally:

5. The Beverly Hillbillies.

Shalini Dore, who suggested it, put it best: "It would be classier to have a team with Beverly Hills in the name rather than Los Angeles." Not to mention that the cheerleaders could be called the Ellie Maes, and wear those rolled-up jeans.

So there you have it. Now all we need is an actual team, owned by the fans, like they do it in Green Bay.

Instead of cheese hats, we'd wear implants. Right on our heads. Like hats.

On a cool night, they'd hold the heat in. On sunny days, we'd fill them with sunscreen. Because in L.A., the little city by the sea, we're nothing if not practical.

Go Stars!

And thanks for playing.

Chris Erskine's column is published on Wednesdays. His e-mail address is

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