We Can't Get a New Team, so Let's Get a New League!

Let's get it out of the way right from the start with a collective yawn, a disbelieving shake of the head and a "call me when the ball is in the air" kind of retort.

Joe Kapp, yes, that Joe Kapp, is pushing a new football league, something called "All-Star Football," and yeah, yeah, yeah, the WFL and the USFL folded, but trust him, this one's all about television and a football alternative to combat NFL arrogance in the Los Angeles market.

Of course, to date Kapp and Co. have been unable to get over the goal line. They have been working on this for three years. The business plan for the All-Star Football League is in place, and there were plans to kick off in 1996. Now they're hoping for a 1997 kickoff. They have seven owners lined up, they say, with the required $15-million membership fee assured.

They need one more millionaire to consummate deals they have made with independent TV stations, and it all hinges on finding the money man in Los Angeles.

"If people in Los Angeles are to be without football because the NFL rejects the Coliseum after federal taxpayers spent $100 million to make it earthquake safe, that kind of arrogance to deprive the second-largest media market of pro football is intolerable," says Eric Parton, Kapp's associate in this venture. "We think there should be an alternative. How do we get excitement in Los Angeles? By giving Los Angeles the kind of team that Steve Young gave them in the L.A. Express, only do it with reasonable business structure so that an ego-driven owner can be eliminated from the situation.

"If we took away from the USFL all the private agendas of ownership, the USFL on the success of their ticket sales, television ratings and sponsorship would still be here today. And Steve Young and Herschel Walker would be stars in that league for the past 12 years."

Write a letter to the editor, or be sure to call if Peyton Manning signs on. Another football league: fat chance.

"Listen to me," insists Kapp, and if the new league could get by on his passion alone, it would be in business. "You cannot overestimate the power and the fear the NFL has even on the big-money guys. That's what we have experienced in Los Angeles."

Kapp and Co. say the investors they have spoken to in Los Angeles, who are interested in pro football, do not want to risk irritating the NFL because they hold out hope of getting an NFL expansion franchise.

"None of the people in L.A. can believe that they aren't the one who is going to be selected by the NFL," Parton says. "We have sat in front of them and told them they are not going to be picked, but they don't want to step up and be second choice until they have been factually eliminated.

"They are also afraid of stepping forward and being ridiculed by the media. This could happen in Los Angeles, but why isn't there leadership in L.A.? You can take the same idea of what's right for Los Angeles--and even though the NFL might not agree--we can provide an alternative."

This is driving Kapp crazy. He has lived his life bucking the system, defying the odds since leading the 1958 California team to the Rose Bowl--the Golden Bears' last appearance--and here's the way football should be played, and no one will jump at it.

All-Star Football would begin play with eight cities, expand to 16 and all would be limited by 40-man rosters with a minimum player salary of $50,000 and a maximum of $400,000 with a $4-million team salary cap.

The franchises would be owned by the league, players, TV distributors and league employees, with ticket prices around $15 in comparison to the NFL average of $39.50. There would be four-point field goals from beyond 40 yards, instant replay, one foot in bounds on pass receptions and no player draft. Each team would recruit players the way high school players are recruited by colleges.

"Our premise is this is television programming first, second and third," says Parton. "Real estate says location, location, location. Pro sports says television."

All-Star Football has a TV commitment in hand, which expires in January. The deal is contingent upon the new league finding a home in Los Angeles, but time is running out.

"Listen, the NFL would be in Los Angeles next year if they really feared losing the beachhead; they have no such fear," Parton says. "We're the only alternative choice ready to be there next year. We know there are groups jockeying for position in Los Angeles who will not be selected by the NFL.

"We would tell them to take $15 million of the $200 million they think they would have to raise for the NFL and put pro football on television nationwide out of Los Angeles. And then tell the NFL: You won't let us in your organization, so we'll show you how football can return to Los Angeles."

Stop yawning.

HISTORY LESSON

In a statement that rocked Southern California this week and sent thousands of people wondering what they will do now, Charger bench-warmer Aaron Hayden announced: "I have no comment for the rest of my career."

Presumably that means he will have something to say six weeks from now, but who will care then?

Hayden's comment, however, brought back fond memories of Steve Ortmayer, former Charger general manager and current whiz kid behind the Rams' resurgence.

Ortmayer once told reporters, "Now, and for the next 10 years, I will not discuss trades." Too bad he didn't say, "Now, and for the next 10 years, I will not make trades." The Rams might still have Jerome Bettis and Sean Gilbert.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

After reviewing a series of Jim Everett's performances on videotape, Houston linebacker Micheal Barrow remarked: "I think Everett must have a modeling contract because he sure didn't want to get hit."

QUOTE OF THE WEEK II

Houston linebacker Joe Bowden on Miami quarterback Dan Marino: "Marino's a god." Asked if he would pray to Marino or try to tackle him, Bowden said, "I'll pray that I can tackle him."

PRIORITIES?

Dallas wide receiver Michael Irvin, required by the courts because of off-season drug problems to perform 800 hours of community service, has 45 hours on the books to date working at a drug rehabilitation center.

"He really does want to put back into the community," said Jackie Pierce, an assistant at the Trinity Recovery Center. "He understands how important this is and that all eyes are on him. He can't just get by like some others on community service. He wants to get this done as soon as he can. But right now his No. 1 priority is to get his team to the playoffs. That's his job."

Irvin has always had his priorities in order.

INSECURITY BLANKET, PLEASE

San Francisco Coach George Seifert's contract expires after the 1997 season, and so what if he doesn't win the Super Bowl?

"I don't think it's unrealistic to think that if I don't win this year I might not get to next year's contract."

Get serious.

EXTRA POINTS

--Denver, Green Bay and Pittsburgh are division leaders and undefeated at home. The only other team unbeaten at home in the NFL: Carolina.

--That must have been some pep talk: The Rams lost to Pittsburgh by 36 points and a week later beat Atlanta by 43 points.

--Giant running back Rodney Hampton, who has rushed for 1,000 yards the last five years, has not rushed for more than 82 yards in any game this season and has not scored. He needs 332 yards in the last six games--55.3 yards a game--to reach 1,000 yards again. He could be the first runner in league history to gain that many yards without a 100-yard game.

--Pretty simple, really. The Giants are 0-6 when the opposition scores 19 or more points and 4-0 when it scores fewer than 19 points. They are 0-6 when the opposition rushes for more than 100 yards, 4-0 when it doesn't.

--Washington has lost eight in a row to Philadelphia by an average of 4.3 points.

IN QUOTATIONS

--San Francisco guard Chris Dalman on Mayor Willie Brown's disparaging remarks about quarterback Elvis Grbac: "Maybe the president will take a shot at him next."

--After Tampa Bay upset the Raiders, Buccaneer Coach Tony Dungy was asked if he had done anything special to celebrate. "No, just the same thing you do after every win," he responded.

Before anyone could remind him of his team's 2-8 record, Dungy added, "OK, the same thing I did after our other win."

--Cole Ford replaced Jeff Jaeger as the Raiders' kicker and after Ford missed a game-winning opportunity, Jaeger said, "This is what I thought would happen. He's strong and a good athlete, but I never saw him do anything under pressure, and that's what you pay a little more for from a kicker."

--Green Bay safety LeRoy Butler on how he views playing the Cowboys in Texas Stadium. "You're looking at a guy who thinks a toy poodle can beat a Rottweiler."

--Arizona offensive coordinator Jim Fassel was matching wits with Redskin defensive coordinator Ron Lynn in last week's overtime win for the Cardinals. "The only game I've ever been involved in with a stranger ending was that famous Stanford-Cal game [in 1982, when a California kick returner ran through the Stanford band for a game-winning score]. The strange thing is, I was Stanford's offensive coordinator that day. And California's defensive coordinator was Ron Lynn."

--After Lynn's defense was ripped by the Cardinals, fans began chanting, "Lynn must go." What was that like? Lynn was asked.

"Have you ever had a root canal?" Lynn said. "I mean, without anesthesia."

--New England Coach Bill Parcells told reporters that he has been running 20 miles a day to stay in shape. "I know it's hard for you to picture an elephant running 20 miles," he said.

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