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SAM FARMER / ON THE NFL

Rams come home? Don't hold your breath

The Rams' owners are looking to sell, but the chances of the team's returning to Southern California are slim, bordering on none.

June 07, 2009|SAM FARMER

The owners of the St. Louis Rams have retained Goldman Sachs to line up potential buyers. Fans there are fretting that they once again will lose their NFL team, especially since the Rams' old town has been without a franchise since 1995. Is it time for their fans to preemptively pester the patron saint of lost things?

Should St. Louis pray to St. Anthony?

As compelling as that story line sounds, the Rams' returning to Los Angeles, it just isn't going to happen. Not now. And maybe not ever.

There are plenty of reasons why there won't be an L.A. reboot of the Rams. Here are some of them:

* Cost: Rams owners reportedly are hoping to get at least $850 million for the team, and a privately financed stadium will cost $800 million at a bare minimum. Factor in a relocation fee imposed by the NFL, and the number soars well north of $2 billion. Earlier this decade, potential deals cost half that and barely made economic sense.

* Priorities: It would be surprising if returning to L.A. cracked the top five issues on NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's to-do list. It might not even be in the top 10. Just about every ounce of energy now is spent on working out a labor agreement with the players.

* Labor: If there is a work stoppage or strike in 2011 -- and don't discount that very real possibility -- that would seriously complicate any type of relocation. How do you pay the bills on a glistening new palace if nobody is in the seats?

* Is the grass any greener? The Rams might not have the best stadium in the league, but their lease ranks right up there. The first out clause doesn't come until after the 2014 season. The club pays a nominal amount to play in a dome paid for entirely by taxpayer money. Fans largely have been supportive of the team, even in down years, and the Rams haven't done a lot of searching for alternative deals in their own backyard.

* NFL is in control: The days of packing up the moving vans and relocating in the middle of the night are long gone. The NFL controls the L.A. market, because the league can deny the moving team the seed money to build a new stadium. Any team that breaks its lease doesn't qualify for that money. It's not as if an NFL club is going to leave its current stadium to become a second tenant in the as-is Coliseum or Rose Bowl.

* Politics: Don't discount the fact that Missouri is a battleground state with a strong congressional delegation. With a budding labor fight on its hands, one that already threatens to get Capitol Hill involved, can the league afford to clothesline that hornet's nest?

* Naming rights: Anyone building -- or hoping to build -- a stadium has to be taking a hard look at the situations in New York and Dallas, where crown-jewel NFL franchises (the Giants and Jets, and the Cowboys) have yet to land naming-rights deals. Those are major pieces to the financing puzzle. What's a new L.A. stadium project with no guarantee of a big-money naming deal in the works? A shopping mall.

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Giant receives praise

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning isn't telling just anybody how happy he is with his newest receiver, he's telling his father.

"When I asked Eli how is his new receiver, he said, 'Dad, he catches everything,' " said Archie Manning, referring to first-round rookie Hakeem Nicks from North Carolina.

The elder Manning was quick to add: "I'm not putting [Nicks] up for a Pro Bowl. I'm just saying he's off to a good start and they're working hard."

Nicks is competing for playing time at third receiver with Mario Manningham and Sinorice Moss. The starters look to be Steve Smith and Domenik Hixon.

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Leinart mixes it up

Matt Leinart is going to extreme measures to increase his chances of on-field success. The Arizona Cardinals quarterback has spent the last two months learning mixed martial arts fighting from Jay Glazer, who doubles as the information man for Fox's coverage of the NFL.

Glazer and legendary fighter Randy Couture have formed MMAthletics, run out of Xtreme Couture gym in Las Vegas, and intend it to be an alternative training method for pro athletes, among others. One of their biggest proponents is Minnesota defensive end Jared Allen, who trimmed down and saw a significant jump in his sack totals after working out with Glazer.

As for Leinart?

"My intention every day is to make him puke, but he hasn't done it yet," Glazer said. "We've all tried to get him to quit from working him out so hard. But he's hung in there. It's impressive."

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Note brought to you by . . .

The NFL is now allowing teams to affix one discreet sponsorship logo to their practice uniforms. Here are some I'd like to see:

* Cowboys: Capital One Bank ("What's in your wallet?").

* Bengals: 99? Only Store.

* Patriots: Brink's Home Security.

* Seahawks: Maxwell House ("Good to the last drop").

* Chargers: Rice Krispies ("Snap! Crackle! Pop!").

* 49ers: LifeCall ("I've fallen and I can't get up!").

* Colts: Mayflower.

* Bills: Almond Joy (TO: "Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't!").

* Steelers: Jostens (maker of rings).

* Rams: Chico's Bail Bonds.

* Redskins: Dunder Mifflin (because they look very good on paper).

* Lions: Big O Tires.

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Tweets of the week

* (@Gary_Shelton) "Wondering why Ralph Wilson picked Chris Berman, and the nearest I can get is this: Maybe he thinks he's John Madden."

* (@deegle84) "I'll accept there won't be a cap. It'll make NFL like bsbll. Snyder will spend 200mil and go 8-8. Bngls 0-16 spending 50cnts"

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sam.farmer@latimes.com

Follow Sam Farmer's NFL coverage on Twitter at twitter.com/latimesfarmer.

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