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William C. Altreuter
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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Thinking about the NFL, the Rams and Los Angeles I have to wonder if perhaps the league hasn't over-played its hand. We are told that the NFL has wanted a team in "the second largest media market in the country", but does it really? Obviously TV revenue is what makes the NFL so profitable, but the teams share that money equally, so why do they care if there is a team in that television market? Anybody in LA who wants to watch an NFL game can turn on their TV-- I've done it myself. And hasn't the history of pro football in the City of Angels shown us that it is not a great market for teams? San Diego struggles with attendance (and may move to LA) because the climate is so great that there are loads and loads of other things to do there. Seems to me that LA is the same deal. Los Angeles worked well as a feint-- something to threaten the rubes with. Rubes is the right word-- one of the things that is the most appalling about the deal St Louis had with the Rams is that the city promised that its stadium would be "top tier". Isn't that just lovely? A few years back Tank McNamara ran a strip about two baseball players whose contracts each provided that they would be the highest paid player in the sport, resulting in a serious of escalating contracts. (As I recall at some point the contract amounts started increasing a dollar at a time. Seems to me something like that would make a baseball fan out of Zeno.)

Aren't the owners sacrificing a useful negotiating tool here? There don't seem to me to be too many places in the US that are going to be thought of as good markets left. We have established, I think, that Toronto isn't going to be an NFL team any time soon-- maybe they just hated watching the Bills, but any team that moves to Toronto is either going to be an expansion team or a team that just sucks, so that doesn't seem like a good play. You know what the largest US city is without any major league team? You can win bar bets with this one: San Juan. You think San Juan is aching for NFL? One hears about placing a franchise in Mexico City. You know what kind of football they like in Mexico City? The kind that Carlos Vela plays. London? You know what kind of football they like in London? Does the name Wayne Rooney mean anything to you?

It may be that the move to LA by the Rams represents Peak NFL, and if that's the case it makes a sort of sense. The sport is in danger of seeing its popularity wane-- it may not be possible to make it safe to play much longer. Maybe this is the moment-- push all the chips into the middle and then walk away with the whole pot.

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