No Disrespect. L.A. is the pLAce for the NFL

Downtown Los Angeles skyline at dusk.

Let me immediately debunk a serious cliché, untruth and down-right lie in regards to WE Angelenos.

It states, “WE WON’T SUPPORT and NEVER HAVE SUPPORTED an NFL team in Los Angeles because there are just too many other things to do here on a Sunday afternoon.”

Well, the part about plenty of things to do on a Sunday afternoon is spot-on. But, that’s what makes the City of Angels one of the greatest cities in the world.

The part about WE WON’T SUPPORT and NEVER HAVE SUPPORTED an NFL team is the biggest bunch of absolute garbage I’ve ever heard or read.

This clichéd rhetoric is old, tired, ignorant and completely false.

It’s a complete insult to all of US Angelenos.

Seriously!

Looking at L.A. from atop the Hollywood Sign.

Los Angeles, the second largest market in the country, home to Hollywood, a pair of MLB teams (Dodgers & Angels), a pair of NBA teams (Lakers & Clippers…and maybe the Anaheim Royals soon.), a pair of NHL teams (Kings & Ducks) a pair of major division one universities (USC & UCLA) and a pair of  MLS teams (Galaxy & Chivas USA) isn’t called the entertainment capital of the world for nothing. And although a sport, football, which includes the NFL variety, is one of the greatest forms of entertainment known to man, woman and child.

All I have to do is cite the Los Angeles Rams, the gold-standard among many pro football teams that have called L.A. home, as my example of WE Angelenos SUPPORTING an NFL team.

The L.A. Coliseum opened on May 1st 1923.

Beginning in 1946, after their move from Cleveland because they couldn’t compete with the Browns, the Los Angeles Rams called Southern California home for 49 years. The first 34 at the 100,000 seat L.A. Memorial Coliseum and the last 15 at Anaheim Stadium before moving to the Midwest in 1995.

49 YEARS!

Had the Rams not been supported by WE Angelenos throughout that half-century, you figure they would have left after year five.

The Rams called the Coliseum home from 1946 to '79.

During a 13 year period in the modern Super Bowl era from 1967 to 1979, the Rams won nine division titles, seven of those in consecutive seasons, played in seven conference championship games and one Super Bowl all the while attracting crowds at the Coliseum in excess of 65,000 to over 70,000 every Sunday afternoon.

In my interview with Hall-of-Fame defensive end Jack Youngblood and tight end Bob Klein, stars for the Rams during those years, both told me they fed off the energy of those Coliseum crowds. Fans that are still devoted to them today.

The Rams averaged just under 60,000 fans per regular season game in the 34 years they played at the Coliseum including three of the top-ten all-time league attendance single-game records exceeding 100,000 fans in the stands.

Rams called Anaheim Stadium home from 1980-'94.

The  first 12 seasons in Anaheim, they averaged about 57,000 fans. The years 1992-94 saw a significant drop-off due to rumors of a potential move first to Baltimore and, later, St. Louis. The Rams averaged about 45,000 fans those final three seasons.

Most team owners in any professional sport relocate because they can’t get the city they call home to ante up, via public funding, for a brand new arena with all the modern amenities to maximize revenue for them and their team.

Ex-Rams owner Carroll Rosenbloom with a model of the Football-enclosed Anaheim Stadium.

Former L.A. Rams owner Carroll Rosenbloom left L.A. for Anaheim in ’79 because the Coliseum Commission and L.A. politicians wouldn’t fork over taxpayer dollars to upgrade the Coliseum. Anaheim DID enclosing the Big “A” without its then-primary tenant, the California Angels, reaping any benefits whatsoever, so it could gain elite status as a city that an NFL team called home.

That changed in the early 90s when Georgia Frontiere wanted upgrades to the Big A via public funding. Anaheim said not this time. Off the Rams went to St. Louis.

St. Louis city officials and the state of Missouri gave the Rams everything they wanted and more including a new stadium in 1995 to return the Gateway City to elite NFL status after the Cardinals bolted a few years earlier for Arizona.

The 17 year old Edward Jones Dome is already obsolete by NFL standards.

The tables have now turned for the Gateway City. The Edwards Jones Dome needs upgrades the Rams negotiated in their original contract. St. Louis wants the Rams to pay more than half with taxpayers footing the rest of the bill.

Currently the Rams, Minnesota Vikings, Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers, Jacksonville Jaguars and Buffalo Bills are the NFL franchises looking to upgrade their stadium situations and join the 21st Century NFL.

It’s why Al Davis moved the Raiders to L.A. from Oakland in 1982 and then back to Oakland in ‘95. ‘84 when Bob Irsay moved the Colts from Baltimore for Indianapolis. ‘87 when Bill Bidwell moved the Cardinals from St. Louis to Phoenix. ’95 when Frontiere moved the Rams to St. Louis from Anaheim. ‘96 when Art Modell moved the Browns from Cleveland to Baltimore. ’97 when Bud Adams moved the Oilers to Tennessee from Houston.

These owners didn’t pack up their teams and leave their former cities because of the lack of fan support. It always has been and will be about stadium upgrade issues.

PERIOD.

San Diego's Qualcomm Stadium is one of the 3 most outdated stadiums in the NFL.

Not coincidentally, the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders are on the possible relocation list because they play in two of the three most outdated stadiums in the NFL. The San Francisco 49ers were on the list playing in the third.

The 49ers new stadium in Santa Clara is scheduled to open in 2014.

The 49ers will be playing in a brand new $1.2 billion facility within the next couple of years in Santa Clara. A building privately funded with the 49ers borrowing $400 million. The Santa Clara Stadium Authority borrowing $450 million. $150 million from the league’s stadium fund. $40 million from the Santa Clara City Redevelopment Agency with the final $35 million coming from a hotel tax paid by tourists and visitors to the city.

I bring these three teams up because, if you include the L.A. Coliseum and Pasadena Rose Bowl, California has the five most archaic “NFL-ready” stadiums. Anaheim Stadium’s out of play because it’s now a baseball-only stadium if you don’t count a high school gridiron clash or two.

California’s citizens and its government entities won’t consider stadium plans of any sort to be publicly-funded using taxpayer dollars. Especially in these tough economic times. We’re absolutely right not to.

That’s why the state is home to the five most archaic “NFL-ready” stadiums in the country.

This is the ONLY reason why Los Angeles hasn’t been a part of the NFL for 17 seasons and counting.

AEG is targeting a 2017 grand opening of Farmers Field in Los Angeles.

This “extended road-trip” Los Angeles has endured could be coming to an end soon with not just one, but possibly two teams, from the list relocating here.

"Tailgating L.A. Style." An artist's rendition of Chick Hearn Court on Game-Day Sunday. Nokia Theatre and restaurants on the right. Staples Center in the left foreground. Farmers Field in left background.

The Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) privately funded the Downtown Los Angeles Corridor Revitalization building the Staple Center and L.A. Live, and now is committed to privately fund, without taxpayer/public dollars, the entire construction of the $1.4 billion L.A. Convention Center and Farmers Field.

AEG’s already invested over $40 million, $27 million of those for an environmental impact report and the balance going to designs for the new convention center and football stadium.

Upon releasing the 10,000 page EIR earlier this month on the steps of L.A.‘s City Hall, point-man Tim Leiweke addressed AEG’s vision for the return of the NFL to the City of Angels.

A team could be calling L.A. home in September of 2013 playing its home games at the Coliseum until Farmers Field is completed by 2017.

As for which team it will be. Take a look at the aforementioned list. The Rams (if any team should call L.A. home, it should be the Rams.) and the Vikings are the top two candidates for various reasons. Who will it be?

It’s going to happen. L.A. will be back in the NFL and the NFL will be back in Los Angeles. From any angle, it’s quite overdue.

Yes. There are plenty of things to do on a Sunday afternoon in the City of Angels, one of the greatest cities in the world, and the NFL should and will be one of them.

Photo courtesy: Eric Geller, AEG, Farmers Field, Los Angeles Times, stadiumsofprofootball.com, USA Today.

Video courtesy: Eric Geller, NFL Films

Remembering Merlin Olsen

There were plenty of the usual, mundane, sports topics I contemplated writing about Thursday. I’ll get to them eventually. Forgot all about them when I found out Merlin Olsen died earlier that morning losing his battle against a form of lung cancer. He was 69.

If you knew nothing about big number 74 before Thursday, you’ve, by now, probably read all about the NFL hall-of-famer and anchor of the Los Angeles RamsFearsome Foursome” defensive line of the 1960’s. Alongside Olsen was tackle Rosey Grier, who came from the New York Giants via trade for tackle Roger Brown, and defensive ends Lamar Lundy and David “Deacon” Jones, all four causing havoc and mayhem for all opponents.

Olsen played 15 seasons all for the Los Angeles Rams, never missing a game, was all-pro for 14 of those seasons garnering the Most Valuable Player Award in 1974, before retiring in 1976. He’s STILL the franchise leader in tackles with 915.

Olsen never played in a Super Bowl. He always was left one game short. Back then, the Rams could never get by the Minnesota Vikings, Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers or Baltimore Colts with the Super Bowl on the line. Didn’t matter. More often than not, the inability of the offense to score at crucial times in championship games was the Rams Achilles Heel.

For many of you, Olsen is better remembered for his role as Jonathan Garvey on TV’s “Little House on the Prairie” and, later, starring in his own show, “Father Murphy”. Quite honestly, I never watched “Little House on the Prairie” or “Father Murphy”. I do remember his TV work as the pitch-man for FTD Florists and as Dick Enberg’s analyst on NBC-NFL broadcasts.

My fondest memories of Merlin Olsen are, as a little kid in the 1970‘s, about going to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Sunday afternoons in the Fall and watching big number 74 stuff opposing running backs forcing teams to pass which enabled him and guys like Jack Youngblood and Fred Dryer to terrorize opposing quarterbacks. That was the era of the second incarnation of the “Fearsome Foursome”. Olsen and  Larry Brooks were the interior defensive tackles with Youngblood and Dryer working either end of the line. Olsen IS the only link to both incarnations.

Back to the 70’s. It was an incredible time to be a Los Angeles Rams fan. Beginning in 1973, the Rams won an NFL-record seven straight NFC Western Division Titles. For the first four titles, Olsen was the leader on a Rams team that, defensively, would beat down opposing teams no matter what offensive super-star any team would challenge the Rams defense with. The Cowboys with Roger Staubach, Drew Pearson and Tony Dorsett. The Bills and O.J. Simpson. The Vikings with Fran Tarkenton and Chuck Foreman, the Cardinals and Jim Hart. The Steelers with Bradshaw, Swann, Stallworth and Harris. I’d always look forward to listening to the Rams Theme Song played by the Rams Band after big plays and wins. Was also fun to watch “Archy”, the ARCO Mascot, dance on the Coliseum scoreboard after big plays and scores. The following Monday morning, it was always a treat to re-live the game reading about it and cutting out the photographs in the L.A. Times and Herald Examiner sports sections.

I remember Merlin Olsen never danced after making a big tackle or quarterback sack never gloating over his victim like today‘s players seem to do as if it‘s part of the game. Many times Olsen would give his victim a helping hand off the turf and a pat on the behind. All the Rams defensive players followed his lead. Win or lose at the end of a game, Olsen was the first at mid-field to shake the opponents hands. Olsen respected the game and those who played it.

Olsen was genuinely a good guy on and off the field. The first TV interview I conducted as a broadcast journalism student was with Merlin Olsen. He was taking part in a celebrity fund-raiser golf event in Buena Park, California. To tell you how long ago that was………Ronald Reagan was President.

Needless to say, I was excited and extremely nervous to be interviewing one of my childhood heroes. Luckily, it wasn’t a live shot. I completely blanked. We turned off the camera excusing myself all the while to Mr. Olsen. He chuckled a bit and in a deep voice said to me, “No problems. We’re just having a nice conversation.” That’s what we had. A nice conversation.

Now, before interviewing anyone, especially kids, I remember looking up at Merlin Olsen, who was wearing a white golf cap that day way back when, and repeat what he said to me, “We’re just having a nice conversation”.

With his passing, I’ve lost another part of my childhood. The one where my father, brother and I would watch Merlin Olsen and the Rams at the Coliseum. What’s amazing to me, in this world of social media networking, I know I’m not the only one who’s lost a member of the family with Olsen’s passing.

On FaceBook, there’s a group called “Bring Back the Los Angeles Rams”.  A group detailing stories of Autumn Sunday afternoons at the Coliseum and Anaheim Stadium when the Rams were thee sports team here…and hope there could be more memories in the future. Will it happen. Who knows.

In the meantime, you can find tributes to Merlin Olsen on that group’s page. That’s what’s sad. Only on that group page can they be found. We can’t go to the West Pico Boulevard Office of the Rams, across the street from the Rancho Park Golf Course. It no longer exists. We can’t go to Rams Park in Fullerton. It no longer exists. I suppose we can go to the Coliseum and put together a “memorial shrine” to Olsen near the Peristyle end of the stadium. Would anyone care.

The Rams left for St. Louis 16 years ago. Had they still called Los Angeles home during that time, Olsen and his “Fearsome Foursome” mates would have been celebrated in front of a packed stadium on one of those glorious L.A. Autumn Sunday afternoons. It never happened and it never will. Olsen and Lamar Lundy are gone. Rosey Grier, “The Deacon”, Jack Youngblood, Fred Dryer, Larry Brooks and Cody Jones are still around. But, we can’t pay tribute to these guys because Autumn Sunday Afternoons at the Coliseum with the Rams and the NFL no longer exist. That’s a disgrace.

But, along with the L.A. natives in the group “Bring Back the Los Angeles Rams”, I’m fortunate enough to have memories of those great times, great Rams teams and great players like Merlin Olsen. The rest of you missed out.

Maybe Roger Goodell and the NFL should think about having a pre-season game at the Coliseum with the Rams, playing in the blue and white throwbacks, taking on the San Francisco 49ers and hold pre-game and halftime ceremonies celebrating Merlin Olsen and the Fearsome Foursome.  Better still, instead of having a regular season game in London, have it in Los Angeles at the Coliseum with the Rams, wearing blue and white throwbacks, taking on the 49ers and hold pre-game and halftime ceremonies celebrating Merlin Olsen, the Fearsome Foursome and the Los Angeles Rams.  One game couldn’t hurt. Bet it’d be a sell-out. It’s a “no-brainer”. Maybe that’s too obvious and RIGHT for the NFL Suits to do.

Rest in Peace, Merlin Olsen. Live long in our hearts and memories along with the Los Angeles Rams and those glorious Autumn Sunday afternoons at the Coliseum.

Hey NFL! Did You Watch the Gold Medal Hockey Game and Learn!!

The National Football League should really take a long, hard look at the Olympic Gold Medal Hockey Championship Game and the way it was broadcast.

The Game is part of the Olympic Event. The game doesn’t exist without the event. No six hours of hype before the event. No analyzing the same thing over and over again. No looking for stories to fill time that border on tabloid journalism.

NBC said the game was going to be live in all time zones, noon Pacific, three Eastern time. Five minutes to set the scene. Then they drop the puck. Plain and simple.

Intermissions between periods were the standard 10 to 15 minutes tops, just like the other tournament games and the same as regular season and post-season NHL games. No doubling each intermission to accommodate a “mini-concert” featuring The Who, Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney … and certainly no “wardrobe malfunction” to worry about either.

The game is about the teams and players … which the NFL seems to have a problem understanding when it comes to the Super Bowl. Every other game during the season, including all playoff games and the conference championships, don’t divert from the usual routine of 15 minutes at halftime.

Except for the Super Bowl which has a 45 minute intermission to milk the event for everything it can by putting on a mini-concert. That takes players and teams out of the routine each is used to based on the symmetry of halftimes during the season.

That’s unfair to the players and teams, especially the ones that have to dig themselves out of a two touchdown hole, to have to sit and wait an extra half hour to get used to the hitting and speed of the game again after that extended “down time” between halves.

Whereas the Gold Medal Championship Game is part of the “Olympic Event”, it’s the opposite with the Super Bowl. Without the Super Bowl Game, there is no Event.

The Event is the Game with the participating players and teams having priority over glorified “variety shows with over-the-hill bands“. Everything else is just a glorified “tail-gate party”. An expensive one at that.

NFL, just tee it up and play!!

Olympic Men’s Hockey Final………GOLDEN!!!

Team Canada’s home-ice, 3-2 overtime win over Team USA in the Olympic Men’s Hockey Final was GOLDEN! It’s one of the greatest championship games I’ve ever seen. Really, there wasn’t a loser at the Canada Hockey Palace in Vancouver Sunday. Oh sure, the final score read Team USA didn’t win the game. But, it certainly didn’t lose it either.

The Canadian crowd, decked out in a sea of red jerseys with a smattering of Americans decked out in red, white and blue, made the atmosphere electric before the puck even dropped to start the game. It was a tense championship game from the moment the puck was finally dropped, because of the “North American bordering countries“ battling for the Gold, and the finality a game of this magnitude brings. The sense of urgency is always there until the final horn.

That’s how it’s supposed to be in a one-of-a-kind, once-in-a-lifetime Title Game with two evenly matched teams that have a common border. NBC Olympic host Bob Costas pointed out a championship game like this probably won’t happen again. Team Canada, with the weight of an entire country on its shoulders, playing for the gold medal at home against the United States in a sport that defines Canada: Hockey.

Fighting back from a two-nothing deficit to tie the score on Zach Parise’s (New Jersey Devils) goal with just 25 seconds left in regulation with an empty net and six skaters, it looked as if Team USA was destined to avenge the Gold Medal Game loss to Team Canada at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics … another of those one-of-a-kind, once-in-a-lifetime game’s with Team USA having the home-ice advantage. I guess that would make it twice in a generation.

Alas, it wasn’t meant to be when Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins) lasered the biscuit through the wickets of USA goalie Ryan Miller (Buffalo Sabres) seven minutes in the OT for the true definition of a “Golden Goal.” Only one team was going to come away with it. Happened to be Team Canada. It scored the one and only goal needed in sudden death for the win. No loser in this one. Could’ve gone either way. Team USA didn’t win the gold. It didn’t lose it either. Look at it this way. The United States earned the Silver Medal and huge respect from the rest of the Hockey Playing World.

This incredible game was played 50 years to the day Team USA beat Team Canada for the Men’s Hockey Gold Medal at the 1960 Olympics in Squaw Valley, California … another one of those one-of-a-kind, once-in-a-lifetime championship games with the United States having home-ice advantage. At least this one was a couple of generations, and a lifetime, ago. Canada versus the United States has become quite the hockey rivalry.

“Bloop Singles”

  • USA goalie Ryan Miller made himself a lot of fans and money during the two-week tournament. Miller was the tournament most valuable player. You can bet he’ll get a huge ovation, as he did from the appreciative and hockey-savvy Canadian fans during the medal ceremony, in Buffalo and every NHL arena the rest of the 2010 season.
  • Of the four major sports (hockey, football, basketball & baseball), hockey is the least popular for a couple of reasons:

1. You have to know how to ice skate.

2. All the equipment needed to play is pretty pricey.

3. It needs to be really cold inside, or out.

4. It’s not played with a ball that’s easy to spot either in person or on TV.

5. The game’s so fast, people complain you can’t see the tiny puck racing around.

  • All of the above is true. But, if you’re into the game, it sure is fun and exciting to watch. As far as playing it?
  • Well, I can’t ice skate.I can’t run a 4.5, 40. I’m too small to block and tackle. I can’t catch a ball or run a fly-pattern. Too short and slow to play basketball(however, I do have a mean outside jumper………when left unguarded). I can’t hit, catch or throw with any precision. I can chew gum well and, occasionally, scratch myself………………but not in front of the camera.
  • So, no matter what the sport and equipment needed, we’re all better off with me talking about sports. Although, some of you may believe I’m wasting my breath doing that too.

Just a thought.

One last thing…….

I still am experiencing the occasional “internet issues” which have caused lapses between new stories. I’m fixing the problem. So, keep checking in to the blog. THANKS FOR THE SUPPORT!

Los Angeles NEEDS the NFL

Here’s a commentary I wrote to the Downtown News “fish rap” in Los Angeles, California.

Los Angele$ NEED$ the NFL

During the NFL season, all the way through the playoffs and Super Bowl, I write predictions for each game on my blog, onanygivensportsday.com, and end each weeks picks with this line:

BYE WEEK OR MISSED PLAYOFFS: LOS ANGELES*
*15 seasons, 22 weeks and counting……….

The “15 seasons, 22 weeks” reflects the time passed since the last game the Rams and Raiders played locally, to the just completed Super Bowl XLIV (44).

Look at those numbers again. That’s 15 SEASONS and 22 WEEKS since the NUMBER TWO MARKET in the country, in terms of population, has reaped the financial benefits of having a National Football League franchise to call its own. Considering the greater Los Angeles area is known as “THE ENTERTAINMENT CAPITAL OF THE WORLD”, going 15 seasons and 22 weeks without the NFL is a COMPLETE DISGRACE.

From the 1973 season at the Coliseum as a kid to the final home game of the Los Angeles Rams at Anaheim Stadium on Christmas Eve 1994 as an adult, I had season tickets to Rams games. It’s absolutely pathetic to think that now two generations of L.A. kids have never been able to see an NFL game in person. Los Angeles kids have missed out on seeing the greatness of players like Brett Favre, Jerry Rice, Tom Brady and the like because L.A. isn’t part of the NFL. Driving to San Diego isn’t the same thing.

A huge THANK YOU to L.A. Sports & Entertainment Commission President Kathryn S. Schloessman for reminding us, in the February 8th edition of the DownTown News, what Los Angeles has been missing since two NFL franchises bolted the area at the end of the 1994 season; The added, huge, financial pay-out to the local economy for hosting the Super Bowl and the festivities during “Super Bowl Week” leading up to the championship game.

After calculating the numbers L.A.‘s missing out on without a National Football League franchise, President Schloessman wrote:

To be sure, we don’t need the NFL to be a world-class city. We don’t need an NFL team here for community identity. Los Angeles hasn’t and won’t suffer without an NFL team.

Schloessman’s right. Los Angeles doesn’t need the NFL to be a world-class city. Los Angeles doesn’t need the NFL for community identity. However, IT IS APPARENT THAT LOS ANGELES HAS SUFFERED, AND WILL CONTINUE TO DO SO, WITHOUT AN NFL TEAM, OR TWO. The financial calculations in her article connected with having a Super Bowl in L.A. are proof of that.

Let’s consider the current economic climate Los Angelenos find themselves in:

  • Unemployment in double-digits.
  • Vacant stores and lofts Downtown.
  • How about Los Angeles City Officials trying to find money to pay bills the only way they know how, by cutting jobs.

Wouldn’t building or renovating a stadium, surrounding it with an entertainment center including theatres, shops and restaurants a la “Staples Center & L.A. Live” and a Los Angeles NFL franchise create jobs and stimulate the local economy? YES! Not to mention what a secure spot in the Super Bowl rotation would mean financially as well.

A decade ago, Houston was awarded the NFL franchise that should’ve gone to the City of Angels. L.A. lost out because several local groups couldn’t work together, instead, competing to lure the NFL.  The huge thorn was the Los Angeles Coliseum Commission, which argued its old venue was the only viable site because it represented the home of NFL franchises in L.A. for half a century. Legal action was threatened against other suitors and the NFL if another site were picked to house L.A.’s team. The last thing the NFL wanted were legal hassles requiring time and money in court. Buh-Bye Los Angeles Stars…..Hello Houston Texans.

So, the Archaic Coliseum stands empty and adding cracks on Sundays. Meanwhile, Houston’s had pro football since 2002 in state-of-the-art Reliant Stadium which hosted Super Bowl 38 garnering Houston, what Schloessman estimated, $400 million to its local economy.

After all this, last May, Governor Schwarzeneggar, among other state properties, proposed selling the Coliseum to raise cash to help alleviate California’s growing fiscal issues.  COME ON! That idea comes a decade too late. Majestic Realty’s Ed Roski, who was then and is now, looking to build a stadium in the City of Industry…on his own dime….should have been offered the Coliseum to renovate back then and, by now, Los Angeles would have been back in the NFL game and having hosted not one but, most likely, two Super Bowls. Wouldn’t that have helped the local and state economy if it had happened. Maybe the governor can borrow money from Houston.

Within a 50 mile radius, the Los Angeles-Orange County metropolitan area houses two NBA franchises, two MLB franchises, two NHL franchises, even two MLS franchises in a brand new 35 thousand seat stadium in Carson. That begs the question, “why didn’t they build a second deck on the Home Depot Center doubling its capacity for the NFL?” Bottom line is this, based on these figures Los Angeles NEEDS to be home to TWO NFL FRANCHISES.

Full support by State and Local Government should be given to Mr. Roski and Majestic Realty to build that proposed $800 million stadium and entertainment center in the City of Industry returning the NFL to Los Angeles. That would instantly create construction jobs and, later, revenue for local business owners, the city and the state. The blue-print’s downtown in the form of L.A. Live. This needs to happen NOW.

One last issue. For those who don’t want a team, would rather watch football on television or go to the beach on a Sunday afternoon in Fall, more power to you. I’m sure there are 70 to 80 thousand fans who would love to watch the game in person for eight, or maybe even 16, of those Autumn Sundays…..and a Super Bowl every four years.

Super Bowl XLIV (44)

Sun Life Stadium – Miami, Florida

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (NFC 15-3) +5 vs. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (AFC 16-2) OVER/UNDER 56.5pts

Plenty of story lines in this one. New Orleans’ “First Family of Football”, the Manning’s, will be pulling for Indianapolis and the Colts second Super Bowl Title in four seasons because, of course, quarterback Peyton Manning is Archie’s son. Archie, of course, is the former Saints quarterback who’s been with the Saints organization for 39 years, now as a broadcaster. In case you were wondering, he won’t be in the radio booth Sunday.

The Saints will be making their first Super Bowl appearance in the 43 year history of the franchise. Just five years after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the “Big Easy”, quarterback Drew Brees and the Saints are carrying, not just a team, the entire city of New Orleans and surrounding areas that were devastated by the storm.

OK. Let’s look at the numbers because this game could be like a “pinball machine” going crazy with bells ringing and points flying. The Saints have the league’s top offense averaging just under 32 points per game. Brees was the league’s top rated passer throwing for 4,388 yards and 34 touchdowns. The Colts ranked seventh overall in offense scoring 26 points per game. Manning was right behind Brees throwing for 4,500 yards and 33 touchdowns. The advantage could go to the Saints because their running game ranked sixth in the league while the Colts’ ranked dead last. The Saints averaging about 131 yards a game using a trio of backs featuring former USC Heisman Trophy winner, Reggie Bush. The Colts only averaged about 80 yards a game on the ground featuring LSU product Joseph Addai who was effective in the “Red Zone” scoring 10 TD’s off the run putting him sixth in the league. So far this post-season, Indy hasn’t scored on the ground relying on Manning’s golden arm while the Saints have totaled three TD’s from land in the playoffs.

Defensively, both teams are classic “bend, but don’t break” teams allowing yardage between the 20’s and tightening up when opponents get in that red zone.  The Colts have been impressive during the playoffs after ranking eighth in scoring defense during the regular season giving up an average of 19 points per game. They’ve pretty much shut down both the Baltimore Ravens and, after allowing yardage and two touchdowns in the first half, dominated the New York Jets in the AFC Championship shutting them out in the second half.  But, all-pro defensive end Dwight Freeney is going to be hampered because of a severely sprained right ankle that occurred against the Jets.

The Saints ranked 20th in the league during the season allowing 21 points per contest.  The Saints like to gamble on defense and are opportunistic having forced 39 turnovers during the regular season and seven during the playoffs. New Orleans Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams likes to go after the quarterback. They knocked a couple of future hall-of-famers out forcing Arizona QB Kurt Warner out of the divisional playoff game and into retirement, then ganging up on Minnesota’s Brett Favre. The Vikings amassed double the yardage the Saints totaled in the NFC Championship. Five turnovers were the difference.

It’s hard to go against Peyton Manning and the Colts because Manning is a surgeon on the field cutting up the league’s best defense for 377 passing yards and three TD’s in the AFC Championship. But Brees and the Saints can light it up as well. So, it’s about the defenses. Because Freeney, the Colts monster pass-rusher, will be much less than 100%, I think the Saints’ opportunistic defense might have the edge and will come at a third straight future hall-of-fame QB with a bull-rush causing turnovers which, ultimately, will be the difference in the game. That plays right into New Orleans’ hands. This game will be something like, 43-38. A Colts turnover or two will be the difference. SAINTS, 43-38.

MISSED PLAYOFFS: LOS ANGELES*
*15 years, 22 weeks and counting.  Expect a big announcement in the next week or two about Los Angeles returning to the NFL as early as next season.

Remember, use my picks to wager $$$ at your own risk. If you lose, I had nothing to do with it. If you win beaucoup $$$, a 10% tip would be cool.  But, I’m realistic. This is just for your entertainment…or not, and for me to keep my sports “mojo” going until “I’m back in the saddle”. Remember the league’s unofficial motto…“ON ANY GIVEN SUNDAY, MONDAY, THURSDAY, FRIDAY OR SATURDAY“…………

“Bloop Singles”

What an incredible Hall-of-Fame class that will be inducted in Canton, Ohio in the Summer. The “Magnificent Seven” features two of  the greatest who ever played the game.  San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Jerry Rice, who also played for Oakland, Denver and Seattle in his 20 year journey to three Super Bowl Titles and becoming the all-time leading  receiver in history. Dallas Cowboys running back Emmett Smith, who finished his career in Arizona, won three Super Bowls as well and is the all-time leading rusher in league history.

Joining them for induction August 7th at the Hall, former New Orleans Saints linebacker Ricky Jackson, former Washington Redskins offensive lineman Russ Grimm, Denver Broncos running back Floyd Little, Minnesota Vikings defensive lineman John Randle and Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau.

Two glaring names didn’t make this year’s cut. Wide receivers Tim Brown of the LA/Oakland Raiders and Chris Carter who played for the Philadelphia Eagles and the Minnesota Vikings. Sure shots for the class of 2011.

No Kobe. No Bynum. No problem. Remember. Lakers coach Phil Jackson calls the 82 game regular season the “marathon” that prepares you for the “sprint” that is the playoffs. No worries.

I don’t know about you. But, to me, Super Bowl Sunday is the TRUE end to the Holiday Season. ENJOY!!

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