Jim Rome on Football in L.A.? Sure, But Only if Taylor Swift and Chris Pratt Are Owners
The outspoken pundit offers his take on the city ending its 20-year NFL drought: A full-blown, glitzy, star-studded Hollywood buy-in, with Mr Chow running concessions and Amoeba handling the playlist.
This story first appeared in the August 7 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
There isn't a day that goes by that someone doesn't ask me, "Who's your favorite team, Rome?" And my answer is always the same: "I don't have one." I have a three-hour radio show every single day, and the only thing I root for is something to talk about. So no one is more pumped for the NFL's eventual return to Southern California than yours truly. And the only thing better than one team would be two teams, which is a distinct possibility.
Question is, do we really want and need the league in Los Angeles? Face it, we've gotten along pretty nicely for 20 years without it. But I'm not here to hate — I'm here to help, so here's a primer on what we'll need for the NFL to succeed in this town again.
First, a great team. Other cities like to crack on L.A. for being a bad sports town, and they're wrong. L.A. isn't a bad sports town; it's a great town, one where catching a game is one of a dozen things you could do on a Sunday. An NFL team here isn't just competing with Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. It's also competing with Runyon Canyon and the rooftop bar at The Standard. Nobody's walking off Zuma Beach for a 4-12 team. You know the old saying: one drink, one stop. There's a better party, and we're not at it yet. And if the NFL isn't a great party, L.A. won't be at it.
Furthermore, the cynic would tell you, "We already have a team here. In fact, tens of thousands of teams — fantasy teams." At this point, do you know anyone who doesn't play fantasy football? And trust me, unless they're great, the Los Angeles Rams won't get fans nearly as excited as "Revis & Butthead" or "Turn Down for Watt."
But again, I want this to work, so here's one way to do it. I know the hard-core fans will be there, but in this town, we need the full Hollywood buy-in. Think of the glory days of the Showtime Lakers. The A-listers sitting courtside brought a certain cachet and glamour to the game. The NFL needs that, too. And it starts with a crazy, badass house. Every team has luxury suites. An L.A. team needs a luxury stadium, Hollywood-style. Let Mr Chow handle the concession stands, have the ArcLight drop in a Jumbotron, Amoeba curates the stadium playlist and J.J. Abrams can produce halftime. Get Leo and Wahlberg some 50-yard-line seats, and no one will even care who's in the huddle.
And it sure would help if the community could identify with the owner of the team. So if I'm the Rams, Chargers or Raiders, I know this going in and chip off a few percentage points to each of the following.
→ The icon: Magic Johnson. The Dodgers have been spending and winning since he jumped in. He may actually be better at business than he was at basketball.
→ The leading man: Chris Pratt. Everything this guy touches turns to gold right now. Give Pratt a taste, and this team, whichever it is, could run the table. And with all that crazy Jurassic dough, he could probably buy it himself.
→ The queen: Taylor Swift. A worldwide brand, a sports fan, Apple takes orders from her, and an army of 60 million tweeters follows her. The league needs a millennial mogul in the owner's box.
→ The legendary L.A. family: The Pinks. If they can get locals to line up on La Brea for hot dogs, they can certainly get them to crawl down the 405 for football.
Point is, it's not going to be easy. This town has survived for two decades without the NFL, and vice versa. But this is one Hollywood couple worth reconciling. Now it's just a matter of showing both sides that they really do need each other. Do it the right way, we've got a blockbuster. But mail it in, this sequel will flop, and L.A. goes right back to the beach.