Sorry, but Rams aren't going anywhere, on or off the field

November 01, 1993|By Steve Bisheff | Steve Bisheff,Orange County (Calif.) Register

SAN FRANCISCO -- Maybe it was just your basic Halloween prank, but here were those wild and wacky Los Angeles Rams, beginning the day discussing a change of quarterbacks.

And ending it denying a possible change of franchise venues.

Is the world really ready for the Baltimore Rams?

Hey, a few weeks ago, no one was ready for T. J. Rubley, either.

It is almost part of this team's funky tradition by now. If the organization isn't deeply immersed in some hot, juicy controversy, you need only stand back and wait.

A new one will be along any minute.

This latest little saber rattle comes courtesy of one Leonard "Boogie" Weinglass, a Baltimore businessman who is intent on finding an NFL team for his honorable city.

Hoping it would arrive in the league's upcoming expansion vote, Weinglass apparently is aware the second city to be granted a team, after Charlotte, which already has been approved, is expected to be St. Louis, not Baltimore.

So Weinglass is now busy, boogie-ing his way through the national media, claiming that if he can't get an expansion club, he can convince the Rams to leave Anaheim for the land of crabcakes.

There are probably those in Orange County, having just witnessed another 40-17 mauling of their club by San Francisco, who might not mind Southern California's oldest pro football team leaving town.

But my advice to them would be not to hold their breath.

The Rams aren't going anywhere, other than back home to try to make some sense out of the rest of this depressing season.

The team's executive vice president, John Shaw, never one to throw in his hand when he still might be able to collect a share of the pot, denied any knowledge of the Weinglass story, which yesterday was aired nationally on CBS's "NFL Today." But he did leave just enough crack in the door so a sliver of intrigue still could slip through.

The team's original 35-year stadium lease with the city of Anaheim hasn't been altered, but Shaw said he could get out of it ... "for a lot of money."

He said Weinglass' statement was untrue ... "at this time."

And he admitted being "disappointed" the Rams weren't drawing more fans to Anaheim Stadium.

If Shaw could get Anaheim officials worried enough about a possible move, he knows he might be able to convince them to sweeten his current deal. He is a businessman, and he understands you use every bit of leverage you can.

Sorry, though, it is difficult to imagine the NFL getting too excited about a franchise pulling out of the second largest market in the country.

The Rams are steeped in Southern California tradition, far more than either of their neighbors, the Raiders or the San Diego Chargers.

And although owner Georgia Frontiere rarely has demonstrated much sympathy for the fans who have remained loyal to this franchise through the years, if she was determined to sell the team, there are local buyers, people such as the Walt Disney Co., Kings owner Bruce McNall and Lakers owner Jerry Buss, who certainly would be inclined to offer their own impressive bids.

So no, don't get too carried away by the rumors of the team leaving.

If you want to worry about the Rams, worry about where Chuck Knox goes from here, not where the franchise itself is headed.

With a bye week coming up, it will be interesting to watch Knox and his coaches grapple with the decision of whom to start at quarterback the second half of the season.

Their selection, for the Nov. 14 game at home against Atlanta, will tell you more about how they feel toward Jim Everett than how they appraise young Mr. Rubley.

In his first NFL start at Candlestick Park on Sunday, T. J. looked like ... well, like a ninth-round draft pick out of Tulsa.

He appeared as raw and confused in this game as he was poised and composed coming off the bench a week earlier against Detroit.

It was clear that this is a quarterback who needs work. Maybe lots of work, before he is ready to compete at this level -- wherever it may be.

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