THE RAIDERS: BACK TO OAKLAND : TV-RADIO : L.A. Isn't Losing a Team, It's Gaining Freedom

For most Los Angeles pro football fans, there's no need to cry about the Raiders' plan to move back to Oakland.

Those who enjoy attending games may not be pleased, but for the vast majority who rely on television, the move would be a blessing.

Since the Raiders came to Los Angeles in 1981, viewers, because of NFL policies, have been getting short shrift.

For one thing, few home games in the 92,000-plus capacity Coliseum sold out, so blackouts were common.

For another, either the Raiders or Rams were almost always at home, thus limiting NBC and CBS to one telecast each per week. Network doubleheaders are not permitted in a market where an NFL game is being played.

If the Raider move goes through, L. A. viewers, as they did in the pre-Raider days, will see network doubleheaders whenever the Rams aren't at home, plus, more than likely, a good number of Raider home games from Oakland.

There was no official word from NBC on Monday about the proposed move, but there was quiet rejoicing around 30 Rockefeller Plaza, NBC's New York headquarters.

That's because, in some ways, NBC has regained the L. A. market.

NBC will be able to show Raider home games in L. A. whenever it wants, will have more flexibility on Raider road games and will be able to show more doubleheaders here.

No question, the Raiders have created havoc for viewers.

Take the second week of last season.

The Raiders played at Kansas City, so NBC was obligated to bring that game into Los Angeles.

Indianapolis played the Rams at Anaheim in Eric Dickerson's first game there since being traded, and NBC also was televising that game, since the visiting team was from the AFC.

But because the Rams were at home, NBC was limited to the Raider-Kansas City game.

The NFL got out of this pinch because the Ram-Indianapolis game didn't sell out.

The number of Coliseum sellouts for the Raiders over the years can be counted on one hand.

After the strike in 1982, a few non-soldout home games were shown on TV as good will, but otherwise telecasts of Raider home games were few and far between.

A playoff game against Seattle on Jan. 8, 1984, sold out in time to lift the TV blackout. So did a regular-season game against the San Francisco 49ers in 1985 and a regular-season game against Denver in 1986.

But a playoff loss to the New York Jets in January of 1983 was not televised even though, through a big walk-up sale the day of the game, more than 90,000 attended.

And a playoff loss to New England in January of 1985 was blacked out despite a near-capacity crowd.

Yes, a Raider move would be a cause to rejoice for viewers.

One person who was not rejoicing Monday was Howard Neal, general manager of KFI, the Raiders' flagship radio station.

"It's really sad that a city such as Los Angeles, a major market city, won't have an NFL team," he said.

"I'm not sure where the fault lies, but this is a disservice to a lot of sports fans in Los Angeles."

Neal said KFI has two years remaining on its contract with the Raiders. If the Raiders move before the contract expires, Neal said it would be voided.

"No, we will not carry the Raiders as a network station if they move to Oakland," Neal said.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World
63°