NFL@L.A.: Arash Markazi

Blue Heaven unlikely to be NFL haven

November, 5, 2011
11/05/11
8:59
AM PT
Dodger StadiumJeff Gross/Getty ImagesOnce upon a time Dodger Stadium was considered a prime spot for an NFL stadium.


Chavez Ravine was once viewed as the perfect location for the NFL’s return to Los Angeles.

After the Raiders and Rams left Southern California in 1995, Los Angeles mayor Richard Riordan worked with Dodgers owner Peter O’Malley on building a NFL stadium on the 352-acre site to attract an expansion team. Riordan, however, pulled the plug on the project and encouraged everyone to get behind the consistently doomed Coliseum renovation, which would prove to be a nonstarter for the NFL over the next decade.

Now that the Dodgers, Dodger Stadium and the surrounding real estate are for sale, some are talking about Chavez Ravine once again being the site of an NFL stadium.

Interestingly enough, much of the talk has come from within the Coliseum Commission, which was the biggest reason the original Dodger Stadium plan failed in the first place.

“I have a close eye on the NFL because the word is they love Chavez Ravine,” Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas told The Times this week. “With this transaction, the implications are huge … if a new owner has a dual-use scenario in his or her mind — we all know there's a scramble to return football here — and the quest is what makes the most sense.”

It was Ridley-Thomas who actually spearheaded the movement to get Riordan to drop the his Dodger Stadium plans and rally the city's support behind the Coliseum as the only viable site for an NFL team in Los Angeles even though the league had already said it wasn't an option.

Chavez Ravine, however, is no longer a viable option for an NFL stadium and an NFL team, at least not for the foreseeable future and here's why:

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Has the NFL forgotten about L.A.?

October, 31, 2011
10/31/11
11:51
AM PT
On Sunday the NFL played its 29th game outside of the United States since the Raiders and Rams left Los Angeles in 1995, when the Buffalo Bills defeated the Washington Redskins, 23-0, in Toronto. A week earlier the Chicago Bears defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 24-18, in London.

There have been a total of 30 games (10 regular season and 20 exhibition) scheduled in 10 cities in seven countries since Los Angeles and Orange County held their last NFL games on Dec. 24, 1994. Since then the NFL has not held a single regular season or exhibition game in the Los Angeles area.

Despite overtures by AEG to hold the NFL draft at the Nokia Theatre in L.A. Live or by the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to host the Super Bowl or the Pro Bowl there, neither venue has been seriously considered.

The Coliseum was the home of the first Super Bowl in 1967 as well as Super Bowl VII. The Coliseum also was the home of the first NFL Pro Bowl and held the game from 1950-1971 and was the last stateside venue to host it in 1979 (before the game was moved to Hawaii for all but one season).

Despite Los Angeles’ rich NFL history, the city has been virtually ignored by the NFL since the Raiders moved to Oakland and the Rams moved to St. Louis.

League officials, however, claim they have not forgotten about Los Angeles. They would just rather place a franchise back in the city than stage occasional games and events there.

"As we’ve taken our games to other places it’s really been to increase fan awareness and increase fan engagement," said NFL executive vice president Eric Grubman earlier this year. “We have high fan engagement in the Los Angeles market so we haven’t felt that we had to take games there to stimulate that. It is possible that we might have neutral site U.S. games but that is not our objective for Los Angeles. Our objective is to return a full franchise there.”

As far as becoming the future site of the Super Bowl and possibly the Pro Bowl, Grubman said Los Angeles, as well as other NFL cities in California, would need to get a new stadium for that to happen.

“When we stage a Super Bowl we need a certain number of seats and we need to have a fan experience for the premium event that it is,” Grubman said. “I can’t really in my mind solve all the logistics and problems that would be presented in the stadiums that currently exist [in California] in the condition they exist. I don’t believe we could stage a Super Bowl given the condition of the stadiums that currently exist in California.”

NFL@LA Four Corners

October, 28, 2011
10/28/11
10:21
AM PT
Each Friday we will update you on the four NFL teams most likely move to Los Angeles; ranking them in order of the likeliest to call L.A. home within the next few years.

1. SAN DIEGO CHARGERS (4-2)

Last week: San Diego reverted back to its old ways in a 27-21 loss to the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium. The Chargers held a 21-10 lead with three minutes left in the third quarter and lost as Philip Rivers threw two interceptions and the Chargers failed to score in the second half. Leading 21-17, San Diego was in position to close the game in the third quarter when a Rivers pass to Vincent Jackson was tipped and intercepted by Darrelle Revis, who returned it 64 yards to set up a Jets touchdown. Rivers threw another interception during a potential game-winning drive in the fourth quarter. The Chargers have now lost two games this season, both on the east coast to teams that made the playoffs the past two years. These are games they will have to win at some point if they want to be considered legitimate Super Bowl contenders.

This week: The Chargers play the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on Monday Night Football. The 0-3 Chiefs team the Chargers beat a few weeks ago in San Diego is not the same Chiefs team the Chargers will see Monday night. In fact, the turning point in the Chiefs’ season may have come when they almost beat the Chargers after losing their first two games by a combined score of 89-10. If San Diego is going to bounce back from last week’s loss they will need Rivers to start playing like a three-time Pro Bowl quarterback. Rivers has seven touchdown passes and nine interceptions, which is four fewer interceptions than he had all of last season. In his last game against the Chiefs on Sept. 25, he had no touchdowns and two interceptions in a 20-17 win.

L.A. Story: Much has been made of the Chargers’ lease at Qualcomm Stadium where they can announce their intention to leave San Diego between Feb. 1 and May 1 of each year through 2020 if they pay an early termination fee tied to the bonds used to expand Qualcomm in 1997, which would be about $24 million after the 2011 season. The key date is actually Feb. 15. Under the NFL’s “Policy and Procedures for Proposed Franchise Relocations” it states that the NFL commissioner must receive written notice from the team wishing to relocate and that “the notice must be filed no later than February 15 of the year in which the move is scheduled to occur.” That notice would also be published "in newspapers of general circulation within the incumbent community." A league source confirmed the rule this week and said it is not only important for the league but for the team, which would need to move as soon after the Super Bowl as possible to begin the process of selling tickets and building a fan base in their new community with the first events being the NFL draft and OTA’s in April. A move in May would simply be too late.

2. OAKLAND RAIDERS (4-3)

Last week: Oakland lost to the Kansas City Chiefs 28-0 at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. Kansas City’s biggest road win over the Raiders since 1966 came at the expense of Kyler Boller and Carson Palmer, who combined for six interceptions. Boller played so poorly in the first half that Raiders coach Hue Jackson forced Palmer onto the field in the second half, just five days after he was signed by the team and ten months after he had taken a meaningful snap in the NFL. His rust quickly showed as he threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown that put the game away for the Chiefs.

This week: The Raiders’ bye week couldn’t come at a better time as Palmer and his teammates will work overtime during the break to get acclimated with one another.

L.A. Story: The future of the Raiders in Oakland will always be in question as long as Mark Davis remains silent in regards to his intentions to keep or sell the team but if the Raiders wanted to leave Oakland in February of 2012 or 2013, it would not be hard for them to do so. The Raiders have a lease to play at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum through the 2013 season but if they were to leave before the end of the 2013 season, the Raiders would only have to pay Oakland and Alameda County $5 million. In other words, the Raiders’ out clause is about $20 million cheaper than the Chargers’ in San Diego.

3. MINNESOTA VIKINGS (1-6)

Last week: Minnesota lost to the Green Bay Packers 33-27 at the Metrodome in what was perhaps the Vikings' best game of the season. The Christian Ponder era in Minnesota nearly began with an upset win over the undefeated Super Bowl champions. Ponder threw 219 yards and two touchdowns but he also threw two interceptions that ultimately prevented an improbable comeback win after being down 33-17 in the fourth quarter.

This week: The Vikings face the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte on Sunday in what should be an interesting battle of rookie quarterbacks between Cam Newton and Ponder. Newton has breathed new life into the 2-5 Panthers who have scored 18 offensive touchdowns this season, exceeding the 16 the team scored all of last season. Judging from his debut last week, Ponder could end up having a similar effect on what had been Minnesota's anemic offense.

L.A. Story: A group of Minnesota legislators announced this week they are opposed to putting public money into a new Vikings stadium and for the first time admitted they would have no problem letting the team leave the state rather than be forced to cut an unfavorable deal. Now this doesn’t mean the Vikings are leaving and moving out west. Minnesota governor Mark Dayton will call lawmakers into special session before Thanksgiving to vote on hundreds of millions of dollars in public subsidies but it does mean this situation will get uglier before a resolution is reached. No matter what comes out of the special session, the smart money is on the Vikings staying in Minnesota one more year before deciding to leave if they don’t get the proper public financing for a new stadium.

4. ST. LOUIS RAMS (0-6)

Last week: St. Louis lost to the Dallas Cowboys 34-7 at Cowboys Stadium in a game where the Rams allowed seldom-used Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray to rush for a Cowboys-record 253 yards. On Murray’s 91-yard run in the first half, he went virtually untouched.

This week: The Rams will play the New Orleans Saints at the Superdome on Sunday and Rams quarterback Sam Bradford remains a questionable for the game with a high ankle sprain. Bradford, who has been sacked a NFL-high 21 times, has again not practiced this week while getting treatment. If Bradford doesn’t start, A.J. Feeley would play in his place for the second straight week. Last week Feeley 20 of 33 passes for 196 yards no touchdowns and one interception in a loss to Dallas.

L.A. Story: Jack Youngblood may be the toughest player to ever play in the NFL but the man has feelings too. While on a tour to promote his new book, Youngblood told us that the current St. Louis Rams have all but cut ties with him and his former Los Angeles Rams teammates. “We are their legacy but they forgot us," Youngblood said. “They don't have anything to do with us, really. I find that unfortunate because you look at other franchises, even those that have moved, and they use their alumni in their marketing and in their organization. They use their Hall of Famers as an example for the players who are there today. They use their alumni, but the Rams have cut us out of the picture.”

The NFL will not be back in L.A. next year

October, 27, 2011
10/27/11
3:17
PM PT
There are plenty of NFL teams who have used and continue to use the threat of a move to Los Angeles as leverage to get a new stadium built in their current city. It’s become a tradition almost as profitable for the league and its teams as the Super Bowl. Since the Raiders and Rams left Los Angeles 16 years ago, 22 brand-new NFL stadiums have opened and five others have undergone major renovations with many teams using the mirage of Hollywood to get whatever they want from the public sector.

Politicians in Minnesota and San Diego, however, shouldn’t be rushed into making any rash decisions on publically financing new stadiums for the Vikings and Chargers by the end of this year. The chances of any NFL team moving to Los Angeles next year are next to impossible.

Under the NFL’s “Policy and Procedures for Proposed Franchise Relocations” it states that the NFL commissioner must receive written notice from the team wishing to relocate and that “the notice must be filed no later than February 15 of the year in which the move is scheduled to occur.” That notice would also be published "in newspapers of general circulation within the incumbent community."

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NFL@LA Mailbag

October, 27, 2011
10/27/11
11:58
AM PT
Welcome back to the NFL@LA mailbag, where I’ll be answering your NFL in Los Angeles questions every Thursday. You can send me a question in the comments section below, on Twitter, or you can find me on Facebook. We’re pretty flexible around here. And remember if you didn’t get your question answered or want to discuss anything further we will have an NFL@LA chat on Friday at 1 p.m.

Can we trade the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for the Green Bay Packers?
--Gabriel Cortes


Something tells me the folks of Green Bay, Wis., who also happen to own their team, are not going to go for that. Now maybe if we threw in the Anaheim Ducks …

How soon will the San Diego Chargers move to Los Angeles?
--Ed Destura


I think the Chargers have the best odds of being Los Angeles’ next NFL team but I don’t see them moving here in 2012. I think they want to put their downtown San Diego stadium proposal on the ballot in November 2012 so they can say they made their best effort to stay before it gets voted down. Also the downtown Los Angeles stadium project will not be ready for construction until June and the Chargers have only until May 1 to get out of their lease. My guess would be to look for the Chargers to move to L.A. in February 2013.

Will we get the Jaguars?
--Mando Rodriguez Jr.


No, I don’t think the Jaguars are moving to Los Angeles. Despite making the most sense to relocate, considering its market size and low attendance figures, the Jaguars' lease is the longest and hardest to break of the seven prospective teams (with also include the Minnesota Vikings, St. Louis Rams and Oakland Raiders). The Jaguars' lease to play at EverBank Field runs through the 2029 season, and if the Jaguars wanted to leave before then they would be required to prove they had lost money in three consecutive seasons or persuade a local judge that the city was failing to properly maintain the stadium. The odds of any NFL team losing money in any year, let alone three consecutive years, or a judge allowing the local NFL team to leave town are remote. Of course, leases can usually be broken for a negotiated price, but it seems the penalty would be too steep considering the other relocation candidates available. Also, Wayne Weaver, who has been the owner of the Jaguars since their first year in 1995, has no plans to sell or relocate the team.

Can we get a team first before we build a stadium?
-- Tony Alvarez

No. Both stadium proposals will need to secure a team before construction can begin. With Farmers Field, that is written into their agreement with the city of Los Angeles. With Grand Crossing, that is just an understood fact as the financing of the stadium will begin when a team is secured.

How long is it going to be until the Rams play their first game back in L.A in 2012/2013 season. Now that really sounds good. Bring the Rams back to L.A. Forget the Chargers and Raiders.
--Samuel I. Chima


The Rams could possibly be back as early as 2013, although I think it is more likely that they would be the second team to move to Los Angeles after the 2014 season. The Rams can get out of their lease agreement with the St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission after the 2014 season if the Edward Jones Dome doesn't rank in the top quarter of NFL stadiums. It is currently one of the league's older facilities. The commission has until Feb. 1 to give the Rams a proposal for how it plans to give the Dome "top-tier" status. The Rams can agree to the offer a month later or reject it and make a counter offer by May 1, which is the most likely scenario. The commission can then either agree to the counter offer by June 1 or reject it and go to arbitration. If such a scenario unfolds, the lease could be voided and the Rams could rent the Dome on a year-to-year basis or choose to move elsewhere. So the Rams could easily get out of their lease if they are adamant that anything less than a new stadium will not be sufficient for them. Getting public funding for such an expensive undertaking in St. Louis, which is still paying off the original construction debt of the Dome, is highly unlikely.

I actually prefer the City of Industry site over the AEG-proposed Farmers Field. What progress, if any, has Ed Roski made in getting his project going?
--
Carlos Eastwood

Roski recently adjusted his offer to NFL owners and is now seeking a “meaningful” percentage interest in a prospective team that he would buy at market value in exchange for his 600 acres of land in the City of Industry. Roski does not want to own or operate the stadium if he is not the majority owner, so the question of how a team owner would privately finance a stadium under that scenario is still a mystery.

Why not get the Rams for the City of Industry and the Raiders for Farmers Field?
--Miguel Rodarte

They will not build two stadiums; only one stadium will be built. So if there are two teams in Los Angeles, they will both play at whatever stadium gets built.

I know that they should have gone with the Carson, Calif., site. It had the best freeway access.
--
Dennis Wayne Allen

There was a proposed NFL stadium site for Carson in 1999, but if AEG gets a team to play at Farmers Field the practice facility and headquarters would likely be located near the Home Depot Center in Carson.

Why don't they just bring back the Rams and have them play the first game in Anaheim for old time's sake and then put them in Pasadena?
--Larry Jensen

That wouldn’t be a bad idea for one preseason game. Angels Stadium is a baseball-specific park, but they could certainly host one preseason game there. If the Rams moved back to Los Angeles while a stadium was under construction, I think it would make sense for them to play at the Los Angeles Coliseum, where they played from 1946 to 1979.

Youngblood and Dryer team-up again

October, 26, 2011
10/26/11
12:29
PM PT
Youngblood/DryerChristopher GrisantiJack Youngblood and Fred Dryer together again in Los Angeles promoting Youngblood's book.
Jack Youngblood is sitting on a balcony overlooking Downtown Los Angeles as he smokes a cigar and marvels at the transformed city he and his former Los Angeles Rams teammates once owned.

The city has changed drastically since he retired in 1984. The Rams, for one, have been in St. Louis since 1995 and an entire generation of fans has grown up here without a pro football team.

Youngblood, however, hasn’t changed much since his playing days when he was labeled the “John Wayne of football.” When a waitress comes around to take his order, Youngblood takes one quick look at the menu and says, “Just bring me the biggest beer you got and the nastiest burger you can make with bacon and cheddar and avocado and bring me that bad boy.”

He has just spent the past three hours signing copies of his new book, “Because It Was Sunday: The Legend of Jack Youngblood” along with his friend and former teammate Fred Dryer.

Youngblood, who lives near Orlando, and Dryer, who lives in Los Angeles, hadn’t seen each other for years but keep in touch regularly. “Thank goodness for the internet,” Dryer said.

If the Rams still played in Los Angeles or if the current Rams organization in St. Louis kept ties with the players who played for the team before 1995, perhaps the two friends who combined for 255 sacks would be able to see each other more regularly at games and alumni events. As it is, e-mail is their only connection these days.

“We are their legacy but they forgot us,” Youngblood said of the current Rams. “They don’t have anything to do with us, really. I find that unfortunate because you look at other franchises, even those that have moved, and they use their alumni in their marketing and in their organization. They use their hall-of-famers as an example for the players who are there today. They use their alumni but the Rams have cut us out of the picture.”

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NFL@LA Four Corners

October, 21, 2011
10/21/11
1:14
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Each Friday we will update you on the four NFL teams most likely move to Los Angeles; ranking them in order of the likeliest to call L.A. home within the next few years.


1. SAN DIEGO CHARGERS (4-1)
Last week: San Diego had a bye last week and remained atop the AFC West.

This week: The Chargers play the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on Sunday in what may be the best game of the week although much of the intrigue surrounds the post-game handshake between the coaches. When Jets coach Rex Ryan was asked this week what would have happened if he got the Chargers job in 2007 instead of Norv Turner he said, “Well, I think I would have had a couple rings. I’m telling you, those teams were loaded. There's no question about it.” He later called and apologized to Turner who said, “I was a little bit surprised by the call and then after I saw the quote, I didn't have a chance to ask him this, but I was wondering if he had those rings with the ones he's guaranteed the last couple of years.”

L.A. Story: The Chargers and San Diego city officials are still going in separate directions when it comes to how a new football stadium should be financed and built. The Chargers say there is no other way the financing of the stadium makes sense unless it is built in downtown and part of the convention center expansion. City officials, who have been working on the convention center expansion for years and can finally see the finish line, say that’s unlikely. San Diego mayor Jerry Sanders recently said a new Chargers stadium could be built after the convention center expansion if the public is willing to spend $38 million a year over 30 years. If you’re doing the math at home, that’s a $1.14 billion cost to the public. Good luck getting the public to sign off on that. Needless to say the chances of the Chargers getting a new stadium in San Diego seem more remote than ever.

2. OAKLAND RAIDERS (4-2)

Last week:
Oakland beat the Cleveland Browns 24-17 at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. It was the Raiders’ first game back in Oakland since the passing of Raiders owner Al Davis and the emotional ceremonies included former coach John Madden lighting a torch in honor of Davis. The tributes, however, were quickly overshadowed by the broken collarbone of quarterback Jason Campbell, who was lost for the season. Two days later the Raiders traded a first round and second round pick to the Cincinnati Bengals for Carson Palmer.

This week: The Raiders will play the Kansas City Chiefs in Oakland and Palmer, who hasn’t taken a meaningful snap since December 2010 will start the game five days after being traded to Oakland. It didn’t take much to unseat Kyle Boller and Terrell Pryor judging from the comments of Raiders offensive coordinator Al Saunders who told a local radio station Palmer would start for the Raiders as long as he was breathing before he had even taken a snap in practice.

L.A. Story: The Raiders were already thought of as Los Angeles’ team by many before the team traded for Palmer, a former USC quarterback and Heisman winner. The move will only help the team’s draw in Southern California where Palmer is still thought of as the best quarterback in school history. Sadly Raiders and USC fans in Los Angeles will have to wait to buy their Palmer jersey in person. The Raider Image, the official team store at the Universal City Walk, said it won’t be getting Palmer’s No. 3 silver and black jersey until next month.

3. MINNESOTA VIKINGS (1-4)

Last week:
Minnesota lost to the Chicago Bears 39-10 at Soldier Field in a game that wasn't as close as the lopsided score would indicate. The Vikings’ nightmarish season continues to get worse every week. At the beginning of the season, the Vikings were blowing double-digit leads in the second half, now they’re trying to come back from double-digit deficits in the first half.

This week: The Vikings begin the Christian Ponder era on Sunday when they welcome the undefeated Green Bay Packers to the Metrodome. Way to ease into your first NFL start, right? Ponder replaced Donavan McNabb in the second half of last week’s game on Sunday night and he completed 9 of 17 passes for 99 yards. Nothing spectacular but the team needs a spark that McNabb simply isn’t giving them.

L.A. Story: As the Vikings struggle on the field, team officials are scrambling to get support for their proposed new stadium in Arden Hills. Eric Grubman, executive vice president of the NFL, met with Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton this week to get an update on the stadium. Dayton is currently pushing for a special session by late November to deal with the stadium issue. After the meeting Grubman said the chances of the Vikings leaving Minnesota and possibly moving to Los Angeles would increase if the stadium issue wasn’t resolved by the end of the year when the Vikings’ lease at the Metrodome expires. “We're worried about a stalemate," Grubman said. “A stalemate means there's no lease, or the lease is about to expire; there's no plan for a stadium, and there's an alternative plan in another city.”

4. ST. LOUIS RAMS (0-5)

Last week:
St. Louis lost to the Packers 24-3 at Lambeau Field in a game that was just as ugly as anticipated. All the scoring took place in the first half as the Packers simply held on for the win in the second half.

This week: The Rams will play the Dallas Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium on Sunday and Rams quarterback Sam Bradford remains questionable for the game with a high ankle sprain. Bradford, who has been sacked a NFL-high 21 times, has not practiced this week while getting treatment. Sunday may not be the best game for Bradford to return considering the Cowboys are ranked in the top ten in sacks with DeMarcus Ware having the third most sacks in the league with seven. If Bradford doesn’t start, A.J. Feeley would play in his place.

L.A. Story: While the St. Louis Rams play the Dallas Cowboys, a group of former Los Angeles Rams will gather in downtown Los Angeles to watch the game on Sunday. Jack Youngblood will be watching the game at the ESPN Zone and signing his book along with former teammates Fred Dryer, Vince Ferragamo and Rich Saul. Youngblood recently said he would like to see the Rams return to Los Angeles "where they rightfully belong" and Dryer famously said after the team left in 1995, “I hate these people [Rams management] for what they did, taking the Rams logo with them when they moved to St. Louis. That logo belonged to Southern California.”

NFL@LA Mailbag

October, 20, 2011
10/20/11
5:28
PM PT
Welcome back to the NFL@LA mailbag where I’ll be answering your NFL in Los Angeles questions every Thursday. You can send me a question in the comments section below, on Twitter or you can find me on Facebook. We’re pretty flexible around here. And remember if you didn’t get your question answered or want to discuss anything further we will have an NFL@LA chat on Friday at 1 p.m.

Why not demolish the Coliseum and build a new stadium?
-- Ivan Gutierrez


Well, first of all, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum is registered as a National Historical Landmark and cannot simply be torn down to make a new stadium. That’s a big reason why whenever there has been talk of a new Coliseum over the last 15 years each design essentially included gutting the building and keeping the historical exterior, including the peristyle entrance and torch. This was, in some ways, the idea of the renovation of Soldier Field, where they basically built a brand new stadium inside the old one which towered above the old Greek style columns, which was the primary remnant of the old Soldier Field. The design disgusted the National Register of Historic Places so much that it delisted Soldier Field after construction was completed.

The Coliseum is out of the NFL business after giving USC first right of refusal on any other team that would play there and will essentially hand over the building to USC by the end of the year when the school will get the master lease to the Coliseum. USC will refurbish the building and return the Coliseum to the condition that made it the home of two Olympic Games and two Super Bowls although it would not be suitable to be the permanent home of an NFL team. The needs of an NFL stadium with hundreds of suites and club seats and seating capacities of only about 65,000 to prevent blackouts don’t exactly equate into what makes a great college football stadium.

What are the chances of having a successful fan base for a team that is neither the Chargers nor the Raiders? Are there plans to re-brand a team and if so what are the names and mascots being proposed?
-- Matthew Zavala


Unless the Raiders and Rams return to Los Angeles, I think the team moving to Los Angeles would be best served to completely rebrand themselves. Although the Chargers began in Los Angeles in 1960 playing at the Coliseum, I’m not sure that would still mean anything in Los Angeles if they moved back over 50 years later. And as far as the Vikings, Bills, Jaguars or any other team that has been talked about, a complete rebranding goes without saying. Obviously there haven’t been any specific talks about a name or mascot until they figure out which team is moving here and if the majority owners (should they still be majority owners) want to re-brand the team.

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NFL@LA meet-up & mailbag questions

October, 19, 2011
10/19/11
4:59
PM PT
First things first, Jack Youngblood will be signing his new book, Because it was Sunday: The Legend of Jack Youngblood this Sunday, Oct. 23 at the ESPN Zone at L.A. Live at 11:30 a.m. He will be there with his former Los Angeles Rams teammates Fred Dryer, Vince Ferragamo, Rich Saul and a few other surprise guests. I will be there as well to answer any NFL@LA questions you might have.

Also, we’ll be doing our weekly NFL@LA mailbag on Thursday so send your NFL@LA questions in the comments section below or through my Twitter or Facebook accounts and I will answer them here on the blog. I will also again be hosting a live chat on Friday at 1 p.m. if I miss any questions or if you want to discuss anything further, so stop by and join the discussion.

NFL@LA Four Corners

October, 14, 2011
10/14/11
1:24
PM PT
Each Friday we will update you on the four NFL teams most likely move to Los Angeles; ranking them in order of the likeliest to call L.A. home within the next few years.

1. SAN DIEGO CHARGERS (4-1)

Last week: San Diego beat the Denver Broncos 29-24 at Mile High. The Chargers withstood a late rally from Tim Tebow to start the season 4-1 for the first time since 2006. Ryan Mathews had 125 yards on 24 carries, Malcolm Floyd had 100 yards and 1 touchdown on just three catches and Philip Rivers threw for 250 yards and touchdown. San Diego was up 26-10 with seven minutes left in the game before Tebow came in and scored two touchdowns and forced San Diego to sweat out a late two-point conversion attempt and onside kick.

This week: The Chargers have a bye this week, which means they can enjoy their 4-1 record a little longer before getting ready to fly to New York to play the Jets next week.

L.A. Story: Chargers special counsel Mark Fabiani conducted a Q&A with fans on the team’s website this week and once again took a shot at AEG, which again confirms what we’ve said all along, that the two sides are negotiating. AEG wants a share of the team at half price and the Chargers want to sell a share of the team at more than full price. Something tells me they’ll meet somewhere closer to market value at some point. Here is what Fabiani had to say: “AEG has been aggressively promoting its project, which it has every right to do. And AEG’s promotional efforts get a lot of attention. That’s just the way it is, and there’s nothing we can do about that. For our part, the Chargers must remain focused on our downtown San Diego options while explaining to our fans that there are many, many impediments in the way of the AEG project. You mentioned perhaps the biggest one of all: AEG wants to buy a significant chunk of a team at a discounted price. That is just not going to happen, at least as far as the Chargers are concerned, and from what I read, not as far as the NFL is concerned either.”

2. OAKLAND RAIDERS (3-2)

Last week: Oakland beat the Houston Texans 25-20 at Reliant Stadium in one of the most emotional wins in Raiders history. The Raiders, who dedicated the game and the rest of the season to owner Al Davis who died 24 hours earlier, found a way to upset Houston in a game that came down to the final play when Raiders safety Michael Huff intercepted Texans quarterback Matt Schaub’s pass in the end zone with no time remaining to clinch the win for Oakland. After the game Raiders coach Hue Jackson got down on his knees and cried as did Davis son, Mark, watching from the owner’s box. There were ten men on the field for the Raiders on the last play but Raiders CEO Amy Trask said, “No, we had eleven.”

This week: The Raiders will play their first game back in Oakland since the death of Davis as they face the Cleveland Browns at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. A tribute to Davis and a moment of silence will precede the game and the Raiders are encouraging fans to get to the stadium early for the moment of silence and stay in their seats for what Trask said there would be a surprise ceremony at halftime.

L.A. Story: The chances of the Raiders returning to Los Angeles were remote with Davis as the owner. He did not want to give up his controlling interest in the Raiders and since that controlling interest consists of only a 46 percent ownership stake in the team he was also in no position to sell a 30 percent stake which is what both Los Angeles stadium groups are looking for. He also didn’t want the Raiders to share the L.A. market and stadium with another team. Remember, he walked away from a new stadium at Hollywood Park in 1995 when the league wanted him to agree to share the stadium with a second team in the future. Now the question is will Carol and Mark Davis be willing to sell the team to one of the two Los Angeles groups looking to build a new stadium in L.A. since the Raiders have been unable to get a new stadium built since moving back to Oakland and their only hope now for a new stadium is sharing one with the 49ers in Santa Clara. That is, of course, if they can ever get the funding for it.

3. MINNESOTA VIKINGS (1-4)

Last week: Minnesota won its first game of the season 34-10 by beating the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Vikings, who had squandered a 20-0 third quarter lead and a 17-0 third quarter lead this season and been outscored 67-6 after halftime finally got a lead big enough that they could keep. The Vikings went up 28-0 in the first quarter and never looked back despite only kicking two field goals the rest of the game.

This week: The Vikings try to make it two in a row this week as they travel to Chicago to play the Bears. Minnesota will try to snap a three-game skid against the Bears and if the Vikings are to be successful they will need a better performance from Donovan McNabb whose completion percentage (56.8) and yards per attempt (6.43) rank 27th in the league.

L.A. Story: The Vikings moved down the list this week after a Ramsey County panel on Tuesday decided not to call a countywide referendum next year on a proposed half-cent sales tax hike to help build a new Minnesota Vikings stadium in Arden Hills. The decision eliminated an obstacle that team officials said would have delayed the project and added to its cost. The Vikings, however, are still not out of the water yet. Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton said that the Vikings, who have offered $407 million towards the project, would probably need to raise that figure to $500 million to make the stadium a reality. Even then, as the Minneapolis Star-Tribune points out, “there is still no state funding plan, no clear political roadmap to getting the needed 102 votes at the State Capitol and continued doubts about the sprawling suburban site the Vikings have chosen for a 65,000-seat stadium.”

4. ST. LOUIS RAMS (0-4)

Last week: St. Louis had a bye last week, which was probably good news for the winless Rams.

This week: The Rams will play the Green Bay Packers this Sunday at Lambeau Field in a game that could get ugly real fast. While Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers looks to lead the undefeated Packers to an eighth straight win at Lambeau Field, the winless Rams, who own the league's worst road record over the past four seasons, are just looking to stop the bleeding. Don’t expect that to happen this week.

L.A. Story: Last week we had former Los Angeles Rams defensive end Jack Youngblood saying he would like to see the Rams come back home to Los Angeles where they rightfully belong while he was on a book tour and this week TMZ caught up with Eric Dickerson at L.A. Live who said, “The ideal situation would be for the Rams to come back to L.A. That’s what I would like to see. I would like to see them come back here and become the Los Angeles Rams.”

It's almost mailbag time again

October, 12, 2011
10/12/11
4:50
PM PT
The last edition of the NFL@LA mailbag went well. We covered the possibility of the Vikings coming to Los Angeles, UCLA and the Los Angeles Galaxy playing at Farmers Field and if the City of Industry site would serve Farmer John hot dogs.

Well, it's that time again. We'll be doing anything mailbag on Thursday so send your NFL@LA questions in the comments section below or through my Twitter or Facebook accounts and I will answer them here on the blog. I will also again be hosting a live chat Friday at 1 p.m. if I miss any questions or if you want to discuss anything further, so stop by and join the discussion.

What was Al Davis' succession plan?

October, 8, 2011
10/08/11
2:43
PM PT
Few, if any, owners in sports had a stranglehold on their team the way Al Davis had on the Oakland Raiders. He controlled every facet of the team until his final days -- from the players the team drafted and signed to the way the field and uniforms looked on game days.

There was no aspect of the organization that wasn’t under the watchful eye of Davis, who did everything his way, regardless of what anyone, even the NFL commissioner, thought.

The Oakland Raiders, however, as we have known them since 1963, are no more after Davis passed Saturday at the age of 83.

After the well-deserved tributes and reverences are made in the coming days, the attention will turn to his succession plan and the future of the Raiders.

Davis had previously said control of the team would go to his wife, Carol, and son, Mark, when he died.

During a press conference on Aug. 1, 2006, Davis also mentioned former Raiders coach John Madden could play a role in helping the franchise’s transition after his passing.

“If something happened to Al, I'm sure (Madden) would be someone that Carol Davis and Mark Davis would call, along with several others who have been Raiders most of their lives and still have a tremendous loyalty to it," Davis said. “That's if I don't outlive them. ... Time runs by you. My life goes on. We're still here and we want to win.”

Davis met Carol in 1950 when he was 21 years old and began his coaching career at Adelphi College on Long Island. He was only there two years before he went into the Army, and as a private, coached the Fort Belvoir football team.

In an interview with Sports Illustrated on Nov. 4, 1963, Davis said about Carol, “A friend introduced us when I was coaching at Adelphi. He thought she could handle me. You know, I wasn’t a bad looking kid and not a poor boy.”

When Carol suffered a severe heart attack in 1979, Davis talked hospital officials into giving him a bed in the intensive care unit and slept there for two weeks to be next to her.

“She’s a good girl,” Davis told Sports Illustrated in 1963. “I swear somebody’s going to steal her sometime. She worries that I don’t spend enough time with our son, Mark. I tell her I didn’t spend an awful lot of time with my daddy, but we were close. I really loved my daddy. It’s not how much time you spend, it’s what you do with the time you’ve got.”

Mark, who is now 56, graduated from Chico State and has been around the team more in recent years.

When the San Jose Mercury News asked Davis what Mark’s role was with the team on Sept. 30, 2008, he said, “He’s business and perhaps he’s doing some work on the stadium -- business and stadium. He doesn’t want to get involved in football. He used to know all the players. He still does. They were his vintage – Cliff Branch and all those guys, Fred Biletnikoff, all those guys. He never understood how I could let someone go. He just doesn’t want to get into that part of it. But he will own it someday. That is… if they let me go to my maker. ”

It is not yet known if Carol or Mark would want to have anything to do with the day-to-day operations of the Raiders. Amy Trask, the Raiders’ CEO will likely take a more prominent role with the team now and help with the transition and life without Davis.

Davis had owned 67 percent of the Raiders but that percentage dropped to 47 percent in 2007 when he sold a 20 percent minority interest to a group of investors, led by East Coast businessmen David Abrams, director of the Abrams Capital investment firm, Paul Leff, founder of the Perry Corporation money management firm, and Dan Goldring, managing director at Perry Corp. The deal gave the group no control of the franchise at the time of the sale or in the future. Davis said he made the deal for estate planning purposes.

That percentage became available to Davis when he settled a lawsuit with the heirs of one of the team’s co-founders, E.W. McGah, which reportedly included the sale of the McGah family’s 31 percent stake in the Raiders.

Davis became the third general partner of the Oakland Raiders when he purchased 10 percent of the team for $18,000 in 1966. Ever since then, Davis has slowly built his shares to become the managing general partner of the team with most of the minority shares divided among the heirs of the eight original general partners.

Last month Forbes magazine valued the Raiders at $761 million, second lowest in the NFL only behind the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Raiders have unsuccessfully tried to get a new stadium in Oakland since moving back from Los Angeles in 1995 but continue to play in the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, the third oldest stadium in the league. Since returning to the Bay Area, 83 of the Raiders' 130 home games have been blacked out on TV after failing to sell out.

There had been talk recently of the San Francisco 49ers and Raiders possibly partnering on a new stadium in Santa Clara but nothing substantial has come from preliminary discussions. Both teams shared Kezar Stadium in 1960.

When former 49ers owner Eddie DeBartalo and team president Carmen Policy were rumored to be interested in buying the Raiders in 2006, Trask came out told the San Francisco Chronicle that Davis would always control the Raiders.

“Al Davis currently has, and will continue to have, total control of the Raiders,” Trask said. “And that will continue into perpetuity.”

NFL@LA Four Corners

October, 7, 2011
10/07/11
7:35
PM PT
Each Friday we will update you on the four NFL teams most likely to move to Los Angeles; ranking them in order of the likeliest to call L.A. home within the next few years.

1. SAN DIEGO CHARGERS (3-1)

Last week: San Diego beat the Miami Dolphins 26-16 at Qualcomm Stadium. It is only the second time since 2002 that the Chargers have started the season 3-1 and they have done it by defeating three winless teams. After so many years of starting the season slowly, however, the Chargers will take their fast start anyway they can get it. “The only thing faster would be 4-0,” Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers said. “It's a little faster than it has been around here. It's usually a flip of 3-1.”

This week: The Chargers finally face a team that has won a game, although the 1-3 Denver Broncos aren’t exactly a juggernaut. San Diego will travel to Denver Sunday afternoon for an AFC West game and a win would give the Chargers a three-game winning streak and a 4-1 start to the season for the first time since 2006. Rivers, who had thrown six interceptions through the first three games of the season, finally went a game without throwing a pick but the team is still 16th in the NFL in red-zone efficiency, scoring eight touchdowns on 17 trips inside the 20-yard line.

L.A. Story: Chargers special counsel Mark Fabiani is still pushing for the public to largely finance a football stadium in downtown San Diego, which would also serve as an extension to the San Diego Convention Center but after having the idea criticized by politicians and convention center officials, all involved the parties have “clammed up.” San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, convention center spokesman Steve Johnson, Sanders’ stadium point man, Fred Maas, spokesman for San Diego’s hoteliers, Mike McDowell, and Fabiani all declined to speak to the San Diego Union-Tribune about the project this week. “It’s time to have the discussion, but nobody wants to convene the discussion,” Tom Lemmon , business manager for the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council, AFL-CIO, told the Tribune.

(Read full post)

NFL@LA mailbag

October, 6, 2011
10/06/11
9:32
AM PT
Welcome back to the NFL@LA mailbag where I’ll be answering your NFL in Los Angeles questions every Thursday. You can send me a question in the comments section below, on Twitter or you can find me on Facebook. We’re pretty flexible around here. And remember if you didn’t get your question answered or want to discuss anything further we will have an NFL@LA chat on Friday at 1 p.m.

OK, now let’s get to this week’s questions.

Which team has the best chance of moving into L.A.?
--trojan1953


I’ve been saying for the past year the team that has the best chance of moving to Los Angeles is the San Diego Chargers. Quite simply, I don’t see how the Chargers are going to get public funding for a new stadium. After a decade of trying and being turned down from one location to the other, I believe they will move two hours north to Los Angeles where they will be in the second biggest media market, play in the league’s newest stadium and become one of the most valuable franchises in sports. Since AEG wants to own a third of the team that moves into Farmers Field first, they also make sense because the Chargers are willing to sell Alex Spanos’ 36 percent share of the team for estate planning purposes.

Are the Rams losing games on purpose just to ease the move back to LA?
--paintpim


Interesting thought but, no, that’s not the reason why the St. Louis Rams are 0-4. The same goes for the 0-4 Minnesota Vikings. Those teams are just that bad with no ulterior motives. They will be in competition all season with the Indianapolis Colts, Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs for the top pick in next year’s NFL draft.

Is it possible that Chargers might be able to pay less to move because they could claim that they already have a market? Is it possible that that the NFL might say you would actually have LA and San Diego and therefore pay full or even more to move?
--Darrinsca


(Read full post)

It's almost mailbag time

October, 4, 2011
10/04/11
4:47
PM PT
The first edition of the NFL@LA mailbag went well. We covered the possibility of the Rams coming back to Los Angeles, USC playing at Farmers Field and if the NFL would realign divisions if a team relocated to Los Angeles.

Well, it's that time again. We'll be doing anything mailbag on Thursday so send your NFL@LA questions in the comments section below or through my Twitter or Facebook accounts and I will answer them here on the blog. I will also again be hosting a live chat Friday at 1 p.m. if I miss any questions or if you want to discuss anything further, so stop by and join the discussion.

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