Rendering of the stadium in Carson possibly being built for the Chargers and Oakland Raiders.
In just a few weeks we might know which NFL teams are moving to Los Angeles. Recently on Fox NFL Sunday, insider Jay Glazer said that the Chargers will likely be one of those teams:
"Owners right now are pretty sure that the team that's going to move to L.A. is the San Diego Chargers. That's the only team that everybody seems to be in agreement with, but nobody is in agreement with who they are going to partner with. Half the league right now is saying that it has to be the Raiders and their deal with (Disney Chair & CEO) Bob Iger, and the other half is saying, 'No, we need (St. Louis Rams owner) Stan Kroenke here,'" Glazer said.
It remains to be seen in what form the Chargers could come here. Chargers owner Dean Spanos would prefer to move to Carson and share a stadium with the Raiders. But ProFootballTalk's Mike Florio reported that Kroenke and Spanos could swap franchises, allowing the Chargers to move alone to Hollywood Park with a different owner.
Whomever moves the Chargers to LA, I have one request: Please change the team's name.
While the Rams and Raiders both have a legitimate history in Los Angeles, the Chargers have one forgettable 1960 AFL season at the LA Coliseum. Despite more than a half-century of existence, the Chargers brand is not all that exciting, especially to people in Los Angeles. The organization has a mediocre history on the field and has never won a Super Bowl.
The Chargers once held training camp in Carson, and attendance was so sparse that the team exited its five-year deal with the then-Home Depot Center after just two years. While the Chargers claim that a large percentage of their fans are from Los Angeles and Orange Counties, one can't help but feel like the brand really belongs in San Diego. Sports Illustrated's Lee Jenkins wrote a nice column about the team's terrific fan support recently. I think the name should stick with the city in case they're able to attract another team, much like the Cleveland Browns.
That all being said, I've waited 20 years for an NFL team to come back here, and I'm not about to downplay this opportunity. But the NFL will be more successful in Los Angeles if the name fits our city. We want a team that feels like it belongs to us, and wasn't borrowed after 55 years of setting roots in one of LA's favorite weekend vacation spots. If the Chargers move to Los Angeles with the Rams or Raiders and keep their name, then they will be the No. 2 team in LA. I'm not sure if the Spanos family realizes that. But if the Chargers come here with a new name, then it will represent a fresh start for the franchise, and a new beginning for football in LA.
So what should the team name be? I actually have quite a bit of experience in team name branding having worked on the Tampa Bay Devil Rays rebranding to just Tampa Bay Rays. I've put together a preliminary list of names that could work. The main stipulations are the team name cannot exist in one of the four major US sports, and it cannot be the name of a major Division I college athletic team. Here is the list:
Los Angeles Express
I'm not sure who owns the trademark for the former USFL name, but one has to admit that it's a pretty good name. "Express" is an exciting and sexy word, emphasizing speed, and it seems to work here. Los Angeles likes to consider itself as a city that's fast ahead of the times, and of course our airport is called LAX. Perhaps former LA Express QB Steve Young would even do appearances on behalf of the team.
Los Angeles Dragons
There used to be an NFL Europe team named the Barcelona Dragons, so I think that the NFL probably owns the rights to the name "Dragons." It's a name that works in an international city like Los Angeles, and it works well for an NFL team too. This might be my first choice.
Los Angeles Avengers
This was the name of an Arena Football team that played in Staples Center for most of the last decade. I never really liked the name (what does Los Angeles have to do avenging?), but maybe some people did. At this point, I'm sure that the trademark rights are owned by Disney through its acquisition of Marvel, but hey, isn't Bob Iger involved with the Carson project?
Los Angeles Jedi
As long as Bob Iger is involved, I'll consider any trademark that Disney might own. And quite frankly, as a Star Wars fan, I can't think of a better sport name than Jedi.
Los Angeles Force
If the Disney trademarks are too tough to come by, then perhaps this less-subtle Star Wars reference could work. It's a strong football name that could also imply a number of different entities (i.e. Air Force, police force, strike force, etc.). LA Force for short does sound good, but I'm not the biggest fan of names that don't end in the letter "S" (i.e. Heat, Magic, Thunder, Jazz, Lightning, etc.) unless it's a soccer team.
Speaking of soccer names, I actually thought that this would have been a better name for the new LA soccer team than LAFC. It's kind of like Club America, only cooler. But the franchise's new "creative" marketing team apparently decided to go with a name format that was already being used in Toronto and New York City. Nice job being original. Regardless, if a football team wants to adopt a naming convention more similar to the world's football, then maybe this could work.
Los Angeles Condors
I like this name as it honors a nearly extinct bird that's native to California. Unfortunately, there's a few too many bird names in the NFL with the Eagles, Cardinals, Falcons, Ravens, and Seahawks.
Los Angeles Piranhas
The Anaheim Piranhas were an Arena Football team that played from 1996-97. I always liked the name Piranhas, even if it's hard for some people to spell. Since "sharks" is already taken by the San Jose hockey team, this is about the next most ferocious sea creature.
Los Angeles Lazers
The Lazers were the name of a Major Indoor Soccer League team in the 1980s that played at the Forum and was owned by Jerry Buss. While I don't love that the name is pretty close to "Lakers" and that it's incorrect spelling of "laser", I still like the alliteration. It also kind of works in today's high-tech world.
Los Angeles Toros
This name honors LA's Mexican roots and large Hispanic population. It's a lot better than Los Angeles Dons, which was the name of the first professional football team here.
Los Angeles Diablos
While it literally means City of Angels Devils, it does have a nice ring to it. LA's earliest nickname was actually Los Diablos.
Los Angeles Admirals
There's no immediate LA connection to this name, other than it sort of acknowledges that we're a city near the water. Still, I've always thought that Admirals was a good sports team name, and putting "Los Angeles" in front of it doesn't sound bad.
Los Angeles Stallions
Interestingly, if St. Louis had been awarded an NFL team in 1993, then it would have been called the Stallions. Instead the NFL picked Jacksonville and the Rams moved to the Gateway City. It's surprising that there's no pro team called the "Stallions" already, and I do think that there's enough pizazz to the word that it could work in Los Angeles. But it would be strange to have the Stallions in the same division as the Broncos. That's just too much horse.
Los Angeles Stripes
Stripes was actually a name that we looked at during the Tampa Bay Rays rebranding. While it might sound silly at first, there's a lot of cool things that you can do uniform/logo-wise with the name "Stripes." It also reminds some people of a Bill Murray movie.
Los Angeles Producers
This about the only decent film-related name that I could think of. The name "Stars" is taken by a Dallas hockey team.
Southern California Sun
This was the name of a team in the defunct World Football League that Pat Haden actually played on. They played in Anaheim, which might explain their desire to leave "Los Angeles" out of the name. I think the name has some nice alliteration, but it might remind some of a Phoenix basketball team.
The Chargers were given their name in 1960, because their first general manager Frank Leahy said: "I liked it because they were yelling 'charge' and sounding the bugle at Dodgers Stadium and at USC games." I think that's a pretty silly reason to name a team. Regardless, if the Chargers do come back here, then let's hope that the NFL gives the franchise the fresh start it needs with one of these new names.