All during the “process” that led the NFL to put a second team in the Los Angeles market, I have wondered why those business-smart people thought that was a good idea. Sports interest is a regional commodity. In the Northeast, baseball is a focal point in the sports world and college football is “ho-hum” at best. In the Southeast, the opposite is true. If I look at what “draws” and what “commands fan interest” in the LA marketplace, here is what I have seen over the past couple of decades:
- LA Dodgers baseball
- LA Lakers basketball – – but not LA Clippers basketball
- USC football
- UCLA basketball – – off and on.
You can look at that list and simplistically conclude that LA fandom is a bunch of front-runners but I think it is more than that. The Dodgers have had some lean years but the fans still go to the games; the Lakers have been mediocre or worse for several years now but they are still front-and-center in the LA sports cosmos. I think that a careful view of the LA sports market would say that Los Angeles is just not into professional football as much as it is other things on the sports menu. If that is the correct conclusion, then the size of the LA market may be sufficient to sustain one NFL franchise but may struggle to sustain two. Remember, the Rams and the Raiders both played in LA and both left LA for much smaller markets because the fanbase was not there.
All of that is preamble to a report I read that makes me think that the NFL had better get itself ready for an emergency team transplant; the LA Chargers need to get out of town. I mentioned earlier this week that last weekend’s crowd at the Chargers/Eagles game was about half Eagles’ fans and that it sounded more like an Eagles’ home game than a Chargers’ home game. OK, so maybe the tiny stadium venue in a less than convenient location with top-shelf ticket prices kept LA fans at home sitting on their wallets. Well, TV stats say differently:
- Last weekend, the Saints/Dolphins game televised from London had higher ratings in the LA market than the Chargers/Eagles game did.
LA sports fans are not at home sitting on their wallets; LA sports fans are sitting at home and paying attention to two mediocre teams playing a game of no direct import on either LA team at a venue 8 time zones away. To me, that does not sound like a problem that will be solved by playing games in a new stadium…
There is a football situation in Indy that I find interesting. Andrew Luck has been cleared to practice starting this week and the team says he is on a “pitch-count” in terms of his throws in practice. Luck continues his recovery from offseason surgery on his throwing shoulder. I have a suggestion for the Colts’ braintrust:
- Put Andrew Luck on Injured Reserve and do not play him even a single down in the 2017 season.
The Colts are not contending for any championships this year no matter who plays QB. Even Hollywood would not green-light a script that had John Unitas coming back from the great beyond to take snaps for the Colts and leading that squad to glory. There is no need to risk further injury – perhaps some permanent impairment – to a franchise quarterback when there is no real potential return for taking that risk. Moreover, if the Colts play Jacoby Brisset at QB for the season, there are two potential benefits:
- Brisset will gain experience and become either a top-flight backup to Andrew Luck starting in 2018 or a valuable trading piece to acquire other assets for the team.
- The Colts will lose plenty of games and have a high draft pick that they may be able to flip for multiple draft picks that will allow them to draft several offensive linemen and a solid running back that will protect Andrew Luck once he does come back in 2018 and beyond.
This week’s Colts/Niners game should give the Colts’ braintrust a signal. The Niners are a mediocre squad at the very best; the game is in Indy. If the Colts’ braintrust wants to harbor any continued delusions that the Colts can “make some noise” in 2017, then the Colts need to win this game by at least 4 TDs – and maybe 5.
The Titans’ QB, Marcus Mariotta, has a hamstring injury so the Titans were in the market for someone to come in and be the backup to the new starter, Matt Cassell. The team signed Brandon Weeden. The only thing that tells me is this:
- Brady Quinn’s agent was out of town and did not respond to voicemail.
The Raiders lost QB, Derek Carr for 2-6 weeks with a fracture of the transverse process on one vertebra. That makes EJ Manuel the starter and Connor Cook the backup. The Raiders saw what Connor Cook provided at the end of last season; I suspect that the team is not thrilled to know he is one snap away from being “the man” once again. If they go shopping in the free-agent QB market, the pickings are slim but they should definitely avoid falling into the trap of “looking for a guy who knows the system”. That might lead the Raiders to consider JaMarcus Russell or – even worse – Todd Marinovich.
Finally, here is an item from Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times:
“South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen became the seventh golfer — and the only active one — with runner-up finishes in all four majors when he came in second at this year’s PGA Championship.
“He still earned $784,000 in prize money — and future Bills Super Bowl tickets.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………