THE RAIDERS: BACK TO OAKLAND : Merely Another Face in the Franchise Crowd : L.A. history: Since 1926, pro teams have come and gone--or simply gone--with regularity.


The Raiders are hardly the first professional sports franchise to discover, then leave, Los Angeles.

They are not even the first NFL franchise, no matter how one counts the Rams' move to Anaheim.

The city's first NFL franchise, the Buccaneers, lasted for only the 1926 season. Its doubtful, though, that anyone missed them. Because of prohibitive travel costs to games in the East, the Buccaneers simply stayed there, playing all their games on the road and never setting foot in Los Angeles.

There was a second "Los Angeles" professional football team that year as well, the Wildcats of the first American Football League. But like the Buccaneers, they played all of their games on the road.

It was another 11 years before a professional football team in a league accorded major league status called Los Angeles home. The Los Angeles Bulldogs of another American Football League not only played here but finished the 1937 season with an 8-0 record.

That AFL folded after one season, however, making the Bulldogs the only professional team ever to play out its existence undefeated.

Two pro football teams arrived in Los Angeles in 1946, the Rams of the NFL and the Dons of the All-America Football Conference. Only one survived.

Another AFL was born in time for the 1960 season, and Los Angeles was included again. But the Chargers failed to capture the fans' fancy, reportedly being out-drawn by some high school teams, and fled south to San Diego in 1961.

The move of the Rams to Anaheim in 1980 left Los Angeles County without a pro football team for two seasons, but by 1982, Los Angeles got two more franchises. One was the Raiders, the other was the Express of the new United States Football League.

The Express had moderate success in its first year, 1983, averaging 19,001 fans for eight Coliseum games. But by 1985, the average dropped to 8,415 and the team was not included in the plans for the USFL's first fall season of 1986, which never came about.

Undaunted by the failures of the USFL and Express, another group of promoters felt the way to football success was to move the game indoors, put only eight players on a side, nets at the back of the end zones and closely watch costs. Thus Arena Football was born, and in 1988 the L.A. Cobras were formed.

But the Cobras proved to be one-year wonders. Disagreements between some of the league's investors and Arena Football founder Jim Foster caused cancellation of the 1989 season. A barnstorming tour was organized, but without a stop in Los Angeles.

Football is not the only sport to have tried Los Angeles. The American Basketball League's Jets folded halfway through the league's inaugural 1961-62 season. The American Basketball Assn.'s Stars moved to Utah after the 1969-70 season and won a championship in their first season in their new home.

In the mid-1970s, franchises came and went at an almost dizzying pace. The World Hockey Assn.'s Sharks moved to Detroit after two years, and since the 1960s, there have been six soccer teams in four leagues, the Major Indoor Soccer League's Lazers the most recent casualty in 1988.

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