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One NFL team in Los Angeles is not enough

BILL DWYRE

Put one franchise in downtown L.A., another inland, and let the fun begin.

January 26, 2011|Bill Dwyre
  • With two football stadiums in the works, Los Angeles is the perfect destination for two new NFL teams.
With two football stadiums in the works, Los Angeles is the perfect destination… (Reuters )

We are the Cutting Edge sports section. We leave the beaten path. Other sections give you logic and civility. We give you T.J. Simers.

So, with the Super Bowl upon us and the rest of pro football locked in a bubble of debate over whether Jay Cutler is a wimp or a warrior, we move on.

The NFL is the no-fun league, and we're about to tell it how to inject some. The NFL is not really dull, just overly structured. It currently consists of 32 teams and an equal number of men sitting around desks before, during and after each game, talking and talking and talking.

The NFL gets analyzed more than troop movements in Afghanistan, and the latter actually matters. Maybe we should unleash Howie and Terry and Jimmy and Boomer and Rock-Jaw Bill on Afghanistan and see what they could solve.

It's time for a new wrinkle.

All this talk about bringing a team to Los Angeles is outdated. Let's take the Ernie Banks approach. Let's bring TWO!

More so, let's not hem and haw and wait for a couple of current owners to cave to the lure of the bright lights of Hollywood and load the trucks up in the middle of the night, a la Bob Irsay. Let San Diego remain Chargers and Jacksonville remain Jaguars. Let's get our own.

This is how that can happen. With Tim Leiweke and Casey Wasserman and the Anschutz Group ready to go next to Staples Center, and Ed Roski with shovel in hand in the City of Industry, the NFL has two great landing places and no flight plan.

This is easy.

Just expand by two to 34 teams. Give one to downtown L.A., the other to the San Gabriel Valley and Inland Empire, and watch the fun begin. Both teams will be lousy for quite some time, but it would work here like no place else.

One bad team in L.A. would flop. Two would be like having twins. We'd bounce them on our knee, decide which one was less ugly, and adopt him. They'd be awful, they'd start equally so, but they'd be ours, and we'd learn to love them, kind of like New York did the old Mets. Winning wouldn't be the attraction as much as our loyalty to something we haven't had for nearly two decades.

The NFL pretty much said when it expanded to 32 teams — yes, L.A. was the loser in that go-round — that it was done. So was Aunt Aggie before she had the triplets.

Going from 32 to 34 is a scheduling problem, of course. The math is simple. But if the NFL were looking far enough ahead, like we do here at the Cutting Edge, it would realize that 34, while a problem for a few years, would set it up perfectly further down the line for another two-team expansion, to 36. And why is that? Because, math majors, the league is hellbent to expand from 16 games a season to 18. And guess which number between 35 and 37 is nicely divisible by two, for scheduling purposes?

The other issue for the Brink's Truck Brain Trust that owns the teams is lost leverage. It could be speculated that Los Angeles has gone without an NFL team since the departure of Al Davis and Georgia Frontiere after the 1994 seasons mostly because Los Angeles presented the perfect leverage for NFL owners when asking for new stadiums or freeway ramps.

These poor, beleaguered NFL owners, some of them down to their last $100 million, would need some sort of compensation for giving up residuals on their refrain: "You give us what we want or we'll move to L.A." That could come in the form of two big expansion franchise fees, one from the Anschutz Group and the other from Roski and Co.

Let's just toss out a well-below-market number, say $500 million each. That would mean $1 billion divided by 32 owners, or $31.25 million each to soothe hurt feelings over lost leverage.

Yes, that's lots of greenbacks, certainly for Roski and even for Anschutz, but we here at the Cutting Edge have always been willing and eager to spend other people's money. Also, the guarantee of having an NFL team, as opposed to having a building and hoping one will come, immediately changes financing packages and revenue projections.

Remember, as costly as it is to get an NFL team, once you have one, it's like a free pass to Ft. Knox with a wheelbarrow. If you lose money in the NFL, you are either very unlucky or an idiot.

Fast forward 15 years to Super Bowl LX. The game will match the Los Angeles Sig Alerts of the AFC and the Los Angeles Seismics of the NFC. The town will go crazy. Al Davis, having forgiven all after his $31.25-million check cleared, will do the coin toss.

You heard it here first, in the Cutting Edge.

bill.dwyre@latimes.com

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