Word broke over the weekend that the NFL is reportedly planning on having one or two of its current teams relocate to Los Angeles in the next year or so.
This would seem like major news, except it at least felt like it didn't cause much of a blip in the public conscious. That probably alludes to the public's exhaustion at the decades old ploy of threatening local governments with L.A. stealing their NFL team – fear and loathing of Los Angeles.
That might be why the NFL is upping the ante … we aren't just taking one team but two. This is double-dog serious now.
This was all courtesy of a Pro Football Talk report citing a "league source." There is no doubt that a league source told Mike Florio that. It's possible that the source actually even believes that "the current plan is that the NFL will send one or two teams back to Los Angeles within the next 12 to 24 months."
There is certainly enough smoke from the league, or at least the St. Louis Rams, that everyone really means it this time. So hey, anything's possible.
Still, this looks like the same old NFL power play in an effort to terrify fans in Oakland, San Diego and St. Louis, which will then cause politicians to crumble and provide additional public funding for the construction of new stadiums for the Raiders, Chargers and Rams.
The NFL is smart, wickedly so. As a collective business, it knows all the tricks. Individually, its 31 owners – plus the collective that owns the Packers – represent some of the most successful businessmen, or their families, in America.
The business of the NFL is business, and business is often rough and ruthless and not for the faint of heart.
So this is, in many ways, a nod of respect to the NFL's game. The L.A. relocation threat is on a win streak that would make the 1972 Dolphins jealous.
But really, two franchises moving? Anyone buying that or does it just sounds like a way to up the pressure on St. Louis, which might figure that as long as its stadium isn't as bad as Oakland's then it is safe? Or San Diego and Oakland thinking they're in the clear since the Rams seem to be making the most noise about possibly heading west.
Now no one is safe. So everyone must build. Apparently, two teams are eager to move to a town without a stadium even though it's supposedly been planning on building a stadium for a generation or two.
And two teams figure that it would make perfect sense for the State of California to embark on some kind of direct or indirect funding deal that would rob Peter (Oakland, San Diego) to pay Paul (L.A.).
And two teams look at L.A. and see fans desperate for this newfangled thing called the NFL, not people who are quite pleased with just getting all the games on television. Finding enough passionate fans to support a new team won't be simple in a diverse, geographically vast region with millions of other entertainment options.
Now there are enough diehards for two?
The NFL didn't even move the 2015 draft to L.A., instead choosing Chicago. But a team is coming soon?
"The timeline would include a team announcing its intention to move in the 2015 or 2016 offseason, with arrangements to play at the Rose Bowl or the L.A. Coliseum pending the construction of a new stadium," Pro Football Talk reported.
Ah, yes, the Rose Bowl and the L.A. Coliseum. Haven't heard this one before. Of course, it's only temporary, though, because we all know how smooth and easy and inexpensive it is to get vast construction projects rolling in Los Angeles. Is Al Davis still involved in this?
Sorry, NFL, we're going to have to see it to believe it. And not some gussied up image of what a glimmering new stadium would look like in downtown L.A.
Look, it makes no sense that the nation's most popular sport doesn't have a franchise in the nation's second most populous market. Except, the NFL is so savvy it has figured out to make not having a team in Los Angeles more valuable than having a franchise in Los Angeles.
So actually it does makes sense. Lots of sense. And dollars.
For decades now – certainly since the Raiders and Rams left following the 1994 season – Los Angeles has been the greatest threat/extortion/end of the rainbow tool the league has ever known. Mid-sized cities across America lived in fear of the NFL taking their precious act off to the sun and surf of California.
So they all caved and provided billions collectively in direct and/or indirect public support for stadiums that have grown more and more expensive, more and more opulent and more and more profitable for the NFL. If they didn't, the L.A. boogey man was coming for them. Supposedly.
Even better, once smaller cities started giving bigger and better deals to less valuable franchises, then the teams that were truly never going to move were able to milk additional money on principle alone. For instance, the Chicago Bears or New York Giants are never, ever relocating. That doesn't mean they too didn't make out when new stadiums were built.
At this point, the NFL would be foolish to give up its nebulous threat of relocation. No L.A. means no leverage. Sure, there's London, which is shaping up to be the new L.A. as rhetoric about a franchise there increases, but that's another country on another continent. It's rife with issues.
Maybe a team – or two – really is headed to Los Angeles in the next 12 to 24 months and some city – or two – will rue the day it called the NFL's bluff. It's certainly possible.
Or maybe that's just the current plan. At least until the NFL needs another current plan to get politicians somewhere to help a new stadium built.