Players try out for the NFL every season. Every so often, entire teams try to join the league, and, for a variety of reasons, just don’t make the cut.
If the NFL expands in the next few years, experts say it’s almost certain that a new team will land in Los Angeles, the country’s second largest city and without an NFL team since the Rams moved to St. Louis and the Raiders moved to Oakland. Los Angeles has a long history of not being able to keep an NFL franchise. In 1936, two new teams applied to be part of the NFL: the Cleveland Rams and the Los Angeles Bulldogs. The Rams got in and the Bulldogs didn’t. Reason: Cleveland was much closer to the northeast, where the vast majority of NFL teams played at the time. The league didn’t want to incur the travel costs associated with a single team way out west.
You’ve probably heard of the Memphis Grizzlies basketball team, but they aren’t the first team with that name. This Grizzlies team was a member of the World Football League, a failed NFL competitor that lasted for just two seasons (1974-75) and never fielded a team outside of the U.S., despite the name. When the WFL folded, the Grizzlies, the league’s most popular team, applied to join the NFL, citing the fact that 40,000 fans had already agreed to purchase season tickets via a Memphis area telethon. The NFL said no, and the team even sued for access, claiming the NFL held an unlawful monopoly on professional football. The suit was unsuccessful.
St. Louis Stallions
In 1987, the football-loving city of St. Louis was left without a pro team for the first time in decades when the Cardinals moved to Phoenix. Four years later, however, the NFL announced plans to add two teams in time for the 1994 season and would take bids from major cities. The final candidates: St. Louis, Baltimore, Jacksonville, Charlotte, and Memphis. Sports business experts pegged St. Louis as a lock for the choice, citing the loss of the Cardinals, the already underway construction of a new domed stadium, and the fact that the ownership group had already named the team the Stallions and developed a logo and uniforms. In 1993, the NFL announced that it would expand to…Jacksonville and Charlotte. Oddly enough, in 1994, St. Louis would get a football team when the Los Angeles Rams moved there.
Memphis Hound Dogs
In the same round of early-’90s expansion was this team, with a nickname taken right from the song of famous Memphis resident Elvis Presley (whose estate was part of the ownership group). The NFL turned down a team in Memphis, so the owners went for the Canadian Football League, which was attempting to expand into the United States. Presley’s estate dropped out, the team’s name was changed to the Mad Dogs, and, like every other American team in the CFL, played one season (1995) before the American experiment was called off.
For more football trivia read Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Sports Spectacular.