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In the Barnum Tradition, NFL Looking for Suckers

Every time there is an NFL report involving Los Angeles, I’m reminded of one of my all-time favorite movies, “A Thousand Clowns.”

The Jason Robards comedy classic has nothing to do with the NFL, but the name of the movie pretty well describes the number of NFL decision-makers and league owners who have their eye on L.A.

The latest report has Jim Irsay, son of Mayflower Bob who moved the Colts in the middle of the night from Baltimore to Indianapolis, interested in beating the Spanos Goofs to Los Angeles. Sounds like Taz taking on Black Ruby in another dumb mule race.

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THE TIMES reported months ago that Irsay told other NFL owners he was interested in moving here. I’m surprised everyone living in Indianapolis isn’t interested in moving here.

Reporter Chris Mortensen, tops in the TV game when it comes to the NFL, went one step further on ESPN Sunday and reported the Colts are on “a faster track to L.A. than people realize,” and could be playing here next year.

Couple that with the Rose Bowl’s recent announcement that NFL moving specialist John Moag has been hired to bring a team here, and isn’t that interesting.

Indianapolis officials quickly dismissed most of Mortensen’s report, and insist the team is bound by a lease and cannot move for several more years. Mort also failed to cover the second half of the story: Who builds a new playpen for Irsay and the Colts in the L.A. area?

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Irsay, however, is on the prowl for more money with the Colts selling only 36,000 season tickets to watch Peyton Manning and Edgerrin James, and the team ranks at the bottom of the NFL in overall revenue. He told the Indianapolis Star that a new stadium in Indy “doesn’t necessarily solve our problems,” making it obvious he doesn’t think Indianapolis has enough rich (corporate) fans to pay for the premium seats and luxury suites in a new stadium.

What does this mean for L.A. fans? Hold onto your wallets.

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NOW FOR some reason L.A. attracts the clowns. I refer you to Al Davis sans the grease paint, and Georgia Frontiere sans the pancake makeup--yikes. After those two left, the Seahawks’ bozo owner Ken Behring tried moving his team into Rams Park before being sent back to Seattle, where he was forced to sell the team.

So far Arizona Cardinal owner Bill Bidwill has taken the hint and not tried to run the concrete barriers at the border, but here we go again.

The Spanos Goofs have already taken steps to worm their way into your affections, striking a deal to conduct training camp in Carson next summer. You have to figure any team that’s willing to spend its summer in Carson ranks right up there with the 300 Spartans. Now the Colts are warming up the Mayflower.

Drew Brees and LaDainian Tomlinson or Manning and James? Interesting.

Irsay or the Spanos Goofs? Depressing.

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TOM & Aida, our neighbors, have sold their home, but refused to inform the buyer who lives next door. I wonder if Irsay has bought a home in California yet?

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I TOLD Garret Anderson he was having an MVP season before Monday night’s game with Oakland, and got the same kind of disinterested response I usually get from him. I prodded him for a response, and he said, “That’s funny after some of the things that have been said around here about me.”

I thought all Disney employees were supposed to report to work with a smile on their face. But then he went out, hit a homer and singled sharply to right, and I hope they vote him MVP, just so he has to act happy while receiving the award.

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AFTER THE Texans won their first game, a sports columnist for the Houston Chronicle wrote: “The Texans came out like old-time gunslingers, their six-shooters blazing, and served notice there was a new marshal in town.”

Just think, if we had gotten the team instead of Houston, I could have written like that.

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HOW ‘BOUT them Cowboys?

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AFTER RAM Coach Mike Martz irritated the local media by closing practices and then losing to the Broncos, a sports columnist for the St. Louis Post Dispatch wrote: “Brilliant decision to close practices, Mike Martz. Now we know why you banned the media: you didn’t want us to see that you and the players were unprepared to open the season. Hey, at least we know what the Rams were working on all week during their clandestine, closed-door, top-secret practices: Sleepwalking.”

Just think, if the Rams hadn’t moved, I could have written like that.

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THE LAST time a Trojan returned a kickoff for a touchdown, Chad Morton was carrying the ball 98 yards in the Coliseum, making Paul Hackett a winner in his first game as USC’s coach. On Sunday, Morton, now with the Jets, became the first player in NFL history to return a kickoff for a touchdown during both regulation and overtime play. Hackett is now an assistant coach with the Jets.

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SLAM MAGAZINE offers its preseason top 20 basketball teams, placing UCLA 13th and Kansas No. 1. It also gives its women’s top 10, but who cares?

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TODAY’S LAST word comes in e-mail from Harry B.:

“Please consider getting off the backs of Grocery Store Baggers. I’m 83 years old and worked as a ‘box boy’ for 24 cents per hour when I was 16. There were 10 guys waiting in the wings if I failed to past muster.”

I gave your e-mail to the Bagger, who is going to marry my daughter, and he said people walk by the “muster” all the time, and it’s in Aisle 6.

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T.J. Simers can be reached at t.j.simers@latimes.com


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