Friday, October 28, 2005

The Los Angeles Saints? Don't Bet Against It

The New Orleans Saints, in their very first game, in 1967 against the Los Angeles Rams, experienced nirvana right out of the gate: return man John Gilliam took the opening kickoff all the way to the house.

Things kind of went downhill from there.

I bring that up because I read where the NFL is considering moving the Saints -- permanently -- to Los Angeles, if New Orleans can’t recover from Hurricane Katrina in sufficient enough time. So that would be a nice little "coming full circle" sort of thing for the Saints.

To tell you the truth, I’m still trying to figure out how and why the league abandoned Los Angeles as a pro football city to begin with. It may be the only time a city went from having two teams in the same league (Raiders, Rams) to none, all within a year. The Rams and Raiders both played their last games in the City of Angels in 1994.

But that’s all water under the bridge -- and out to the ocean. Now the league wants a team back in Los Angeles, and if it took a tragic hurricane and the demolition of one of its cities to make that happen, then so be it, dammit! But this business of taking franchises away from cities and returning them goes on in just about every major team sport. The NFL itself has done it -- to Cleveland. Now it would do the same with Los Angeles, which only happens to be the second-largest media market in the country. Why on earth would you want to have a team there?

When all this dust and verbal sniping settles, it will be fun to see what ultimately happens to the Saints franchise. New Orleans doesn’t appear to be capable any longer, and apparently the NFL has no interest in permanently placing the Saints in their current temporary home of San Antonio. Think the league will put out a feeler for bidders? Naah -- it’s L.A., baby. You can count on that.

The New Orleans Saints are going through a very difficult time right now -- both on and off the field. Their collective worlds have been turned topsy-turvy. They aren’t getting any breaks from the officials, and the ball isn’t bouncing their way. Some might even say they’re getting jobbed from several directions. But I admire the way they’ve handled themselves, despite coach Jim Haslett’s understandable outburst a few weeks ago. Preparing to play football games for the Saints each Sunday must be so much tougher than any of us can imagine. They are a team without a home, a microcosm of the city that they represent.

So when you consider all that, maybe it makes sense to put a team called the Saints in the City of Angels, after all. Can’t hurt.

1 comment:

dolphinfan said...

This is one of those things I wish I would have published. I said when the Saints first went to San Antonio that they would end up in L.A., man I wish I would have published that!