Ah, once again, we have the story of the NFL returning to Los Angeles. It’s not really a story. Just a bunch of beeps and winks and whispers and nods.
It’s a story made for Twitter. It can easily be covered in 140 characters that add nothing, which is the essence of Twitter.
Think of this NFL stuff as the weed that grows through the cement cracks in your sidewalk. You spray it, poison it, chop it. But it just keeps coming back every few months.
Before you conclude that I am just caving to another easy column, making fun of the obvious, think again.
Unlike everything else you are getting from headlines and TV bobbing heads, I have a solution. It has specifics and details. It is an action plan, and it is inspired by no less than the commissioner of baseball, Bud Selig.
First, let us review why we are back, again, in the mud at the line of scrimmage with the NFL.
• In August, prognosticator deluxe Magic Johnson tells our Bill Plaschke that he thinks the NFL “is going to happen this time.”
• Jerry Jones, Cowboys’ owner with zero skin in the game other than a new market to sell T-shirts, tells every sportswriter who asks, and some who don’t, that the “L.A. deal is gonna happen.” No whos, whats, whens, wheres or whys, of course.
• Rams owner Stan Kroenke buys 60 acres at Hollywood Park. Aha, new stadium. Aha, here come the Rams. Except that every story accompanying the news of the purchase carries a statement from the Rams that there will be no statement about the purchase, nor even a confirmation that it was made.
• Much discussion takes place about the three NFL teams playing without long-term stadium contracts, year-to-year deals. They are the Chargers, Rams and Raiders. No more stadium Alcatraz for them. But will they make it through all the sharks (fellow owners) on the swim to Los Angeles?
• Stop the presses. A website, ProFootballTalk.com, has a source. That source, shockingly unidentified, says that the “current plan is to have a team in L.A. in 12-24 months.” Will there be another plan after the “current” one?
• The website prompts questions from reporters at this week’s NFL meetings in New York, and correctly so. It also prompts a renewal of the grand art of NFL doublespeak. New York Giants co-owner Steve Tisch says of the prospects for L.A., “It hasn’t gone backward, but it hasn’t gone forward.” Commissioner Roger Goodell says, “I’ve always been reluctant until we have a solution to project where we are.”
• Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, promoting a six-month extension of city backing for the Farmers Field downtown plan, says getting a team here now is “highly likely.”
• Phil Anschutz, who has written most of the checks for the current development around Staples Center and will now get six more months of walking hand-in-hand with the city toward the NFL altar, is the most sensible. He says nothing, probably because there still is little of consequence to say.
That’s the recent background, Here’s the plan:
In the late 1960s, a group of investors, affectionately known to this day in the city of Milwaukee as “The Carpetbaggers,” stole the Braves baseball team and took it to Atlanta. Selig, a young local businessman, led a plan to show Major League Baseball why it should bring a team back to Milwaukee.
Selig and his group talked the Chicago White Sox, 90 miles away and struggling at the gate, into playing eight or nine of their home games at the then-vacant Milwaukee County Stadium. The White Sox did, Milwaukee fans jammed the place each time, bought lots of beer and hot dogs, T-shirts and banners, and baseball took notice.
Soon, the Seattle Pilots became the Milwaukee Brewers and, eventually, Selig became the league’s commissioner.
This is how Los Angeles can take a page from Selig:
Schedule two major games next fall, one in the Coliseum and one in the Rose Bowl. Get the best pro matchups available: Alabama-Auburn, Florida-Georgia. Reject any requests from the Raiders to play in one of these games because they’d lose.
Market the games like crazy. Keep the ticket prices reasonable. Sell T-Shirts that say: “SEC Bowls Are Super, Too.”
Create an Olympic-sized buzz. Stir up what the local media loves most — titillation.
Fly in a bunch of NFL owners. House them in a hotel on the beach at Laguna. Put on the dog for them.
Then clinch the deal by sending all profits to the newly created league fund titled: “The NFL Will Not Tolerate Domestic Abuse Unless the Player in Question Caught More Than 20 TD Passes.”
With all this enthusiasm and buzz, the NFL would have to come.
Just like that, after all these years of excuses and false starts, L.A. would have its team. We could call it the L.A. Birds and have T-shirts with pictures of raised fingers to commemorate our 20-year-plus struggle to get a team back.
And soon, Mayor Garcetti, with Anschutz’s blessing, would be replacing Goodell as league commissioner.