Since Jack Kent Cooke hasn't yet been able to cut a deal to build a stadium for his Washington Redskins in either Virginia or Maryland, he should exercise his best business option and head for Los Angeles. The void there is immense since two teams vacated the No. 2 TV market in the country, the Rams defecting to St. Louis and the Raiders returning to Oakland.
Los Angeles is devoid of pro football for the first time in more than 50 years. Before the Rams settled there from Cleveland in 1946, Los Angeles had a team in the Pacific Coast League called the Bulldogs. So much for history. Now there's only the memory.
Cooke and Los Angeles would make for a perfect fit. To start with, they are well acquainted. Cooke was there as the owner of the Los Angeles Kings and Los Angeles Lakers and, after some differences with the landlord, the Coliseum Commission, went off on his own and built the Forum to house his teams, which was the first privately funded arena in the nation.
It's ironic that Hollywood Park, the racetrack where Cooke has had horses running, was going to build a new football facility for the Raiders, with the NFL cooperating, but the deal collapsed. So if the league was in favor of a stadium to house the Raiders, it couldn't change its stance if Cooke wanted to avail himself and revived the same deal.
If Cooke decided to take the Redskins on a cross-country hike, from Washington to Los Angeles, there would be nothing the NFL could do about stopping him. Precedent has been set. If Los Angeles can be deserted by two clubs, there's no power on earth, certainly not commissioner Paul Tagliabue, able to tell Cooke he can't go there to replace them.
Los Angeles, no doubt, would welcome Cooke with a civic banquet and lavish ceremonies. Maybe next-door Pasadena might even make him honorary chairman of the Rose Parade and allow him to ride one of the floats on New Year's Day. Jack would like that.
If Cooke gave up on Washington, it would open the door for Baltimore to get back in the NFL. Baltimore will never embrace the Redskins, even if they transferred here, opened the gates and let the spectators come in free. There's apathy in Baltimore over the Redskins. Always has; always will be.
Cooke and Tagliabue did not enter into a conspiracy to deprive Baltimore of pro football. There are, admittedly, those who insist otherwise. In fact, Tagliabue tried to cultivate Cooke's friendship even after he demeaned the new commissioner by referring to him as nothing more than a "beltway lawyer."
If the Colts can go from Baltimore to Indianapolis; the Cardinals from Chicago to St. Louis and on to Phoenix; the Rams from Cleveland to Los Angeles and now to St. Louis; the Raiders from Oakland to Los Angeles and back again; then there's no way for the NFL to stand in the way of Cooke taking the Redskins to Los Angeles if he desires.
So he sells out RFK Stadium and has a list of season-ticket buyers in waiting that takes over 20 years to fill. That's only a mere detail. There's no loyalty in the NFL, not even among the owners, so why should the rules change for Cooke if he wants to change his football residence to Southern California?
See you later, Washington. This is what Cooke has been trying to do for five years but keeps meeting resistance. First, he wanted to go across the Potomac into Virginia but that proposal never got off the ground. Next it was to Laurel, and more problems, which caused him to give up and try elsewhere.
He's still trying to build a stadium in Maryland, again with his own money, and is pointing his efforts toward Prince George's County, where he objects to some of the terms that have been talked about. It's obvious he's encountering more opposition, even though the presence of the Redskins will assist the tax base in any jurisdiction they play and would be of overall benefit to Maryland.
Cooke, without a doubt, could write his own ticket in Los Angeles, including a new stadium and an almost giveaway rental deal. Why he wants to force himself on other places, such as Prince George's County, is beyond comprehension.
No doubt, the Congress would react with strong language if Cooke tried to leave the Washington area, but that wouldn't deter him. He's too strong and too wealthy to be intimidated.
Baltimore figures to benefit if Cooke decides on going west to tap a better opportunity in Los Angeles, where he could change the name of Redskins to anything he wanted and thereby silence the Native American voices pleading that he give his franchise another nickname.
In Los Angeles, better opportunities await. If he doesn't avail himself then someone else most assuredly will take advantage of placing a club in what is now open territory. Los Angeles doesn't want an expansion team. Its preference is something ready-made so it would applaud a Cooke transfer of the Redskins.