Ask Gary: Can Los Angeles support two NFL teams?

by Gary Shelton on January 14, 2017 · 0 comments

in general

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Saturday, 4 a.m.

How do you think it will play out now that there are two NFL teams in LA?

Scott Myers

I think it'll work out fine. Los Angeles is used to having two teams (the Rams and the Raiders) for parts of their histories. There are certainly enough people so the celebrities can pick up sides.

Two things to consider: One, the rank-and-file citizens of Los Angeles weren't that bothered by not having an NFL team at all. That's why it took so long to get one. The other things is this: Both the Rams and the Chargers are pretty bad football teams.

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L.A. is like a lot of markets. It's by and large filled with frontrunners. If the teams aren't good, the people won't bother. So there will be a lure for celebrity coaches and glitzy names to compete with each other. It's like when George Steinbrenner ran the Yankees. The teams tend to try to one-up each other. Especially at the first. Both teams are going to want to be the one fans pay attention to. They'll want not to be the lead joke on the Late Show.

It's going to be different from the Giants and Jets, which seem to have developed their own fan bases. I don't think the Jets really bother the Giants these days. Or vice versa. I think the Rams and Chargers will kind of be a pro version of Southern Cal and UCLA.

I hated this for the fans in St. Louis. I hate it for the fans in San Diego. I don't like franchise free agency.

Still, there are enough people in L.A. for two teams. The question is whether it forces the Raiders to Las Vegas, which I think is a really bad idea.

I think that the NFL will regret putting 2 teams in L.A. Dean Spanos has to pay a $650 million relocation fee. The Raiders will have to also. Can you explain to me how owners can afford the huge fee, but don't choose to put that money toward a new stadium in their current cities? What am I missing?

Jim Willson

You're missing this: Greed. (I bet you knew that.)

The owners can afford the huge fees because the TV revenues are so staggering. And they didn't put that money in their own stadiums, well, because they didn't have to. It's much better to get the fans and citizenry to pay for things.

Remember, for 30 owners, relocation money goes into their pockets. It's no skin off of an owner's teeth if the Chargers think it will be more profitable to play in L.A. instead of San Diego. But it's kind of nice to get more than $20 million per team. That's a nice profit above the normal profit. I've said it often: Owning an NFL team is like having your own ATM. Money forever.

The NFL is getting incredibly cavalier with all these relocations. I think that we will be facing the pressure within the decade. The Glazers will not be happy with a 30-year-old stadium when they can look around at all these new billion dollar stadiums. Am I being too cynical?

Jim Willson

History says you're not being. Remember, this stadium was built under the threat of the team going somewhere else.

I think that's one of the reasons the league is flirting with England so furiously. There aren't enough places to go anymore. San Antonio? Mexico City? Toronto? There just aren't that many cities that can host an NFL team. (Of course, the league also wants those foreign TV rights.) That's been one of the crucial things that Roger Goodell has done. He's polished off a lot of dimes for his owners. They're all rich.

So if you're a Glazer, where do you threaten to move? St. Louis? San Diego? Failed markets.

I know this: It's never getting a stadium built where a team is. Which is why so many of them leave.

What were the BEST and WORST moves made in the last year by the Bucs, Lightning and Rays?

Jim Willson

Good question.

I think if you judge by the bottom line, re-signing Doug Martin was an awful move by the Bucs. None of us knew it at the time. I'm sure I thought the signing was great at the time. But Martin was awful, and then he was testing positive for drugs. Signing J.R. Sweezy was tough, too. Wasting time with Austin-Seferian Jenkins. Their best move? Maybe the signing of defensive coordinator Mike Smith, who made his unit better. Maybe it was replacing Lovie Smith with Dirk Koetter. I'll go with Martin as a bad decision and Smith as a good one.

For the Rays? The worst move was sticking too long with Desmond Jennings, who the team kept talking about as being an impact player. He wasn't. Trying to force him in there was worse than even continuing to start Chris Archer.  The best move? Moving Alex Colome into the closer's role.

For the Lightning? The best move was a re-signing. I'd say in hindsight, though, it was the re-signing of Nikita Kucherov. Making peace with Jonathan Drouin was crucial, too. The worst move was not tweaking this roster to fill some of its shortcomings in the off-season. Sure, that's  easy to say now: But the Lightning was a small team last year, too. That could have been addressed.

Do you think it's a done deal that the Lightning keep Vasilevskiy over Bishop next year? They do seem to respond well when Bishop is in net. My guess is that they use the savings from Bishop's salary to help obtain a top 4 defenseman. And you sir?

Barry McDowell

Barry, I would have said yes before Thursday night. But there was a clear difference in Ben Bishop's return. The team seemed to get some energy from his puck handling. The team seemed a little more solid than they do in front of Vasilevskiy.

Finances still matter in sports, though, and they say you're better off to move Bishop and keep Vasy. I'm not sure that doesn't hurt the Bolts in the short run. I like Vasy, too, but he's still not the goalie that Bishop -- the Bolts' best-ever -- is.

What is your take on the incident involving the NYG players who decided to go to Miami to party on an off day during the week of a playoff game? Can you imagine anything like this happening on a Tony Dungy or Don Shula team?

Larry Beller

I thought it was the typical case of players having their priorities out of whack. There is plenty of off-season to go party on a boat. But with a playoff game coming up, why would a player even think of what city to go in to have fun?

I know, I know. I'm an old grump who just doesn't get it. But there is a line. If the team wants to have a golf tournament on its day off, well, it's a day off. If one of the players wants to host a dance party with a disco wheel, well, it's their day. But to tramp though an airport, to fly to Miami, to stock a boat with alcohol and head off in pursuit of Gilligan just seems wrong to me.

Think about why you have  day off anyone during a playoff week. It's because your body needs rest. It doesn't need to dance to the Justin Bieber soundtrack.

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