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NFL Teams That Almost Moved (But Didn’t)

October 3, 2021

In the last few years, the St. Louis Rams and San Diego Chargers moved to Los Angeles, while the Oakland Raiders headed to Las Vegas. Those are some team moves that worked out — unlike these proposed franchise relocations that didn’t quite work out.

St. Louis Patriots

About a decade before quarterback Tom Brady arrived and led the team to six Super Bowl wins, the New England Patriots were one of the sorriest teams in the NFL. From 1990 to 1993, they amassed a record of 14 wins and 50 losses, and routinely couldn’t fill their stadium even halfway. That all led to relocation talks, with St. Louis-born owner James Orthwein endeavoring to move the team to his hometown for the 1994 season and rename them the St. Louis Stallions. That upset Robert Kraft, who owned the Patriots’ home, Foxboro Stadium, and he stepped in to buy the franchise and prevent the move.

Hartford Patriots

They’re called the “New England” Patriots to represent a region, but the Patriots are closely associated with (and geographically close to) Boston. Just four years after buying the team, owner Robert Kraft nearly moved the operation to Hartford, Connecticut, a city of about 125,000 and which had just lost its only major professional sports team, the NHL’s Hartford Whalers. The state of Connecticut offered to spend $1 billion on a new stadium for the Patriots and public plans were made, only for Kraft to back out three minutes later when the Patriots got a better stadium deal back home in Massachusetts.

San Antonio Raiders

The Raiders are probably the most-shuttled team in sports history. They played in Oakland from 1960 to 1981, Los Angeles from 1982 to 1994, Oakland from 1995 to 2019, and in Las Vegas from 2020 to the present. They nearly headed back to Los Angeles instead of Sin City, working up a deal with the on-the-move San Diego Chargers to finance a new stadium. That plan fell apart, and the NFL approved of a plan to move the St. Louis Rams to L.A. A couple of years before the resettlement in Las Vegas, Raiders owner Al Davis met with officials in San Antonio about moving the team there, but didn’t like the playing turf at potential home stadium, the Alamodome.

Jacksonville Oilers

The Houston Oilers moved east and became the Tennessee Titans in the 1990s, around the same time that Florida’s Jacksonville Jaguars joined the NFL. Only a few years earlier, those changes wouldn’t have happened had Oilers owner Bud Adams followed through on a publicly stated plan to move the team to Jacksonville and play in the massive Gator Bowl. The Oilers’ lease on the Astrodome was set to expire, and Adams didn’t like the terms of the renewal, but he did like what Jacksonville was offering. Adams ultimately got what he wanted the Oilers stayed put… for a while.

 

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