October 21, 2010
When news broke this week that Magic Johnson had unloaded his small share of the Los Angeles Lakers and sold his 105 Starbucks stores for $100 million, insiders were wondering what the NBA Hall of Famer had up his sleeve. Turns out it could be an attempt to bring an NFL franchise back to the City on Angels.
Johnson told The Los Angeles Times that he hasn't had any discussions with the NFL, but "really, really wants the NFL to come back to L.A."
"Of course I would be interested," Johnson said. "Have I talked to anybody about it? No. But I would love to ... I would do that in two seconds."
It's no secret that the NFL badly wants to make a return to Los Angeles, which has been without an NFL team since both the Raiders and Rams left in 1994. It's the second-largest television market and to Roger Goodell and network executives, the thought of being out of such a big city is like leaving easy money on the table.
But things aren't always as easy as that. Los Angeles is an excellent sports town but hasn't supported teams in the past. There are a few reasons for this: L.A. has a ton of transplants who root for other teams, the Los Angeles Coliseum is a relic and, unlike in a number of NFL cities, there's a whole lot of other things to do on a Sunday in Southern California.
Also, I've heard anecdotally that many people in L.A. like the current arrangement. Because there's no home-market team, the city gets the three best afternoon games of the week on FOX and CBS. There's never a stinker involving a home team you don't care to see, nor do fans have to endure those terrible Sundays when only two afternoon games are aired because of archaic regulations about doubleheaders.
Fans would come around, though. With every game available on DirecTV and Red Zone, there's plenty of ways for fans to support a new Los Angeles team as well as their hometown favorite. As long as the league is patient and waits for relocation (Jacksonville?) instead of expansion (nobody wants an uneven 33-team NFL), a move seems inevitable.
Maybe all it needs is a little Magic to make it happen.
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