Much as I love my beloved NFL, this league isn’t perfect. Far from it.
It’s got serious issues, all right — concussions being a big one. But another problem has been “franchise free agency” that has been going on for years, leading to such disgraces as the Colts leaving Baltimore for Indianapolis, and the Browns leaving Cleveland for Baltimore a decade later, and the Houston Oilers leaving for Tennessee, and the Cardinals leaving St. Louis for metro Phoenix — the latter move setting up the NFL abandonment of Los Angeles in the mid-Nineties when both the Rams and Raiders left the Southland.
Now, after 20 years, it looks as if the NFL is going to finally rectify that latter disgrace and return to LA, but it looks as if it will again come at the expense of football fans in other cities again, with the St. Louis Rams, Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers all on the brink of pulling up stakes. All three franchises have previous ties to LA, having been there for various periods of time.
All three of them have been threatening to move to LA for at least the last couple of years, It looks as if only two of the three teams will move, though. The owner clearly wants out of St. Louis, but officials are making a massive effort to try and save the Rams there.
So I don’t think Thursday night’s Rams game will be the last one for the NFL in St. Louis. I think something will get worked out.
But it’s a different story for Oakland and San Diego. Not much seems to be happening in those municipalities, with a lot of different proposals being floated around and getting nowhere, and rumors have been swirling that both teams might be sharing a new stadium in Los Angeles before long.
But it’s a fluid situation. Lately, there is also talk the Raiders might also stay put.
Which leaves the San Diego Chargers — who seem certain to join the Baltimore Colts, Houston Oilers and St. Louis Football Cardinals in the dustbin of NFL history.
Today, the Chargers host the Miami Dolphins in their final home game of the season at Qualcomm Stadium. If I were a sports fan in San Diego I would be gutted. They are being ignored and abandoned by their municipal leaders, by their owner, and by the entire NFL in this episode.
This potential move has nothing to do with the fans, who keep on showing up. The issue there is the stadium, which they claim is past its prime. From my vantage point, the stadium looks fine to me. It looks a heck of a lot better than the one in Regina which is as old as the hills. But I guess the NFL expects all their stadiums to be these big palaces. Anyway, for the fans there it stinks. And franchise moves, in general, stink. The NFL and everyone else really ought to be ashamed of themselves.
The Chargers-Dolphins game may look like a nothing game in the standings, but it won’t be a nothing game from a historical perspective. I hope there is TV coverage of it, somewhere on the channels here, just to see the fan reaction.