Los Angeles is now home to THREE top-ranked football teams, two of which are pro. That means big games, tons of fun and a very exciting LA football season. To get us through to the next game, we’ve compiled a list of five surprising bits of trivia that you probably didn’t know about LA football. And remember, if you plan to attend any games this year to support our boys, whether it’s the Chargers at the StubHub Center in Carson or the Trojans or Rams at the Coliseum, get to the game faster and smarter by parking with Pavemint!
1. LA Has Been Home to Multiple Teams Before
The first LA football teams ever were traveling leagues because the Coliseum Commision didn’t allow pros to play in the stadium. The players on both the Los Angeles Buccaneers and the Los Angeles Wildcats were mostly UCLA and USC alumni. Even though the Wildcats were an LA football team, they mostly played out of Chicago because traveling across the country was still a pretty big deal in 1926. The Buccaneers had perhaps the most terrifying mascot in the history of football. Both teams only played one season, which culminated in a fight to the death in San Francisco. They didn’t really fight to the death, but the Wildcats beat the Buccaneers 17-0, and then both teams disappeared. After that, came the Los Angeles Bulldogs and the Los Angeles Dons (also gone now), then from 1982 until 1995, LA was home to both the Rams and the Raiders.
2. An LA Football Team Began the Desegregation of the NFL
In 1946, when the Rams first decided to move from Cleveland to LA, there were no black football players on any NFL teams. Literally none. Because the LA Coliseum is located in Exposition Park on publicly-funded property, members of the African American print media made sure the Los Angeles Coliseum Commission did not approve the move unless the Rams agreed to hire at least one black player. They also specifically suggested the Rams try out Kenny Washington, a black former UCLA player who had never been offered an NFL contract despite being one of the best college football players in history. The Rams signed Washington on March 21, 1946, and then two months later, they signed a second black player, Woody Strode. Even after that, the road to full desegregation in pro football was long and mostly championed by teams in the American Football League. Now? The NFL is almost 70% African American.
3. The Chargers Were Born in Los Angeles
In 1960, a number of team owners who had been refused NFL expansion franchises or had minor shares came together to create the American Football League (AFL). One of the founders, Lamar Hunt, approached Barron Hilton and asked him if he’d be interested in starting an LA football team. He said, “heck yeah!” (we’re paraphrasing, of course) and the Chargers were born. Low ticket sales prompted the team to move south to San Diego after their inaugural season. After they moved, Greg Gregston of the San Diego Union said that the Chargers “have learned in one season that Los Angeles has been saturated beyond sensible proportions with sports.”
4. Teams Have Been Threatening to Move to LA for the Last 20 Years
In case you haven’t noticed, LA hasn’t hosted a professional home game since Christmas Eve 1994. That’s even before some of our favorite Instagram influencers were born! But other teams have made good use of that gap in LA football history. Since 1996, about half the teams in the NFL have either talked about moving or threatened to move to LA, usually in conjunction with new stadium negotiations. Here’s the complete list: Seattle Seahawks, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (we could’ve had the LA Buccaneers back!), Indianapolis Colts, New Orleans Saints, Jacksonville Jaguars, San Francisco 49ers, Minnesota Vikings, Carolina Panthers, Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, Oakland Raiders (make up your mind, guys), and, most recently, St. Louis Rams and San Diego Chargers. (Woohoo! We got the last two!)
5. There’s a Ridiculous LA Rams Video from the 80s That Needs to Go Viral
We’re just going to leave this one here and let you decide what to do with it…