NFL outlook bleak for 'Washadelphia'


ROSEMONT, Ill. -- Ah, what the heck, might as well show up. Maybe Boogie will punch somebody out.

Among his potential victims:

Gov. William Donald "Judas" Schaefer.

Alfred "The Chosen One" Lerner.

Ron "Please Mr. Postman" Wolf.

And, last but not least, Paul "Meet Me in St. Louis" Tagliabue.

Let's just get this over with, so we can get on with the business of stealing a team.

The latest standings, Baltimore division:

L.A. Raiders ..... 6-5

L.A. Rams ........ 3-8

Tampa Bay ........ 3-8

Cincinnati ....... 1-10

Of course, it need not turn out this way.

The NFL can do the right thing, give Baltimore the ball and revive its national image. Or it can pick St. Louis and cement the belief that the process was fixed all along.

The New York Times reported Sunday that some owners want to add three more cities -- one in 1996, two in 1998. But that doesn't necessarily mean the expansion losers would get franchises.

Can you imagine starting over? More exhibition games. More ticket drives. More owners. Tagliabue the Lawyer would love it. "Certainly," he'd say, "the losers will be given every consideration."

Actually, the NFL figures to name two cities today -- St. Louis gets the expansion team, and Baltimore gets renamed "Washadelphia," because it's really not a city, you know, just a big, old suburb between Washington and Philadelphia.

The Washadelphia RoughRiders -- that's what we'll call our CFL team. The unique spelling would prevent us from being confused with two other CFL entries, the Saskatchewan Roughriders and Ottawa Rough Riders.

Go ahead, scoff at the CFL.

Of the 22 NFL teams "in action" on Sunday, only three -- Kansas City, San Francisco and Houston -- scored more than 20 points.

Great product.

But back to the matter at hand.

Frankly, there's only one reason to show interest now. It's sort of like watching a horror movie. You want to see how creatively the NFL can stage a triple murder: Baltimore, Jacksonville, Memphis.

Heard the latest rumor? NFL owners are convinced that Baltimore and St. Louis will lure existing franchises, so Jacksonville might emerge as the compromise winner today.

That's like telling someone who's unemployed you won't offer him a job because he's about to get another one.

Typical NFL logic, in other words.

Face it, the Hyatt O'Hare has always been a house of horrors for Charm City sports fans, even before "Expansion I -- The Delay."

The Hyatt O'Hare is where the NFL failed to block Robert Irsay from moving after the Colts owner lodged bitter complaints about Baltimore at an owners meeting.

And the Hyatt O'Hare is where the Toronto Blue Jays acquired Devon White, Joe Carter and Roberto Alomar at the 1990 winter meetings, laying the groundwork for back-to-back world championships.

The Orioles spent those meetings fretting over whether to sign free agents Matt Young and Franklin Stubbs before finally settling on Dwight Evans.

Get ready for the sequel.

The NFL chooses . . . Toronto!

Don't laugh. If the expansion to 32 teams became reality, the NFL would salivate over Toronto -- not just a new city, but a new country.

But hey, it's not over. We've made the switch to Lerner, an NFL "insider." Too bad he's practically unknown to every owner. After today, you'll probably never hear his name again.

Then again, maybe Lerner knows something. Indeed, he has yet to explain why he plunked down his $100,000 application fee when the chances of landing a franchise seemed so slim.

What's it all about, Alfie?

Under the latest conspiracy theory, the NFL encouraged Lerner's bid to preserve the facade of competition.

But if you believe that, you probably also believe that Baltimore would have a chance of winning a lawsuit after jumping in front of two onrushing trains, one marked "Charlotte," the other "St. Louis."

No, the only hope probably is to steal a team. The plan would be simple: To avoid being used, set a March 1 deadline for teams interested in moving. Then, if nothing happens, give prospective CFL owner Jim Speros a parade.

Of course, the deadline would be flexible.

NFL deadlines always are.

Still with us, Boogie?

C'mon, Washadelphia.

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