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Interest stirs in Los Angeles

By DARRELL FRY, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published May 19, 2002


Here we go again.

Another investment group is trying to bring the NFL back to the City of Angels. Let's see, isn't this about the 100th group to peddle this idea?

Anyway, this one announced last week plans to build a 64,000-seat stadium in Los Angeles, at a cost of $400-million to $450-million, near the Staples Center where the NBA's Lakers and Clippers and NHL's Kings play. The group said it will need a $150-million loan from the league to make the project happen.

The league might be willing to help, considering it would mean restoring a franchise to the nation's second-largest media market, which has been without a team since the Raiders and Rams left in 1995. The group hopes to have the stadium finished and a team in place by the 2005 season.

There supposedly are a handful of NFL teams that could move to L.A., but the Chargers probably are the best bet. They can get out of their lease in San Diego after the 2003 season. Plus, they were 26th in the 31-team league last season in attendance and team officials love Los Angeles, which is why the team plans to hold training camp there starting in 2003.

Asked if the league was interested in seeing Los Angeles get a team again, spokesman Joe Browne said: "We are the National -- underline National -- Football League, and Los Angeles is the No. 2 market in the nation. That seems to be a question with an obvious answer."

Stay tuned.

NOT YOUR AVERAGE JOE: Joe Namath, 58, was spotted in South Florida recently, looking as smooth as ever. But Namath, speaking to a group with arthritis, said he still lives in pain from injuries sustained during his playing days.

He has bad knees, an ailing thumb, a bad back and a nagging foot problem, but still works for ESPN and CBS Sportsline.

"He went through more pain than anybody," former Jets teammate Jim Hudson said. "He's one of those lucky people. ... Well, I don't know whether you call it lucky, but he's one of those people who has a very high pain threshold. He played with pain when other guys wouldn't have thought about doing it."

After his divorce three years ago, separating him from his two daughters (they moved to California with their mother), Namath said he battled depression and required medication.

"Some pain never goes completely away," he said, "but you learn to deal with it and make the best of it."

All in all, though, Namath said he's doing fine.

"I plan on being around until I'm about 100," said Namath, who has homes in South Florida and California. "If that's the case, I'm just in the early third quarter."

TURNING OVER A NEW LEAF?: The Chargers didn't want him. The Bucs didn't want him. Now comes word that the Cowboys don't want Ryan Leaf, either.

Though officials have denied it, Dallas reportedly is shopping the former first-round pick along with quarterback Anthony Wright.

Leaf is supposed to make $500,000 this season and $1-million the next season, money the Cowboys think is far too much.

So far, there have been no takers. The Cowboys, who have tied their wagon to starter Quincy Carter, would like to get something for Leaf, but might be forced to release him.

MAKING HIS MARK: Bucs quarterback Joe Hamilton, who rarely has played for Tampa Bay, is making a splash in NFL Europe.

As of last week, Hamilton was fourth in the league in passing, completing 77 of 139 (55.4 percent) for 1,014 yards, 6 touchdowns and 5 interceptions for Frankfurt.

SPEND A LOT, SAVE A LITTLE: The union said 78 players lost $42-million in the past three years through bad managers and investments. Hmm. The union didn't say if it was the one who recommended any of those managers.

Said Francis Fraenkel, managing director at Neuberger Berman Inc., which manages investments for former Cowboys quarterback Steve Walsh, former Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino and Panthers first-round draft pick Julius Peppers: " ... It's their money, and if they chose to gamble or give it away, it's their business."

OOPS: First, it was Broncos quarterback Brian Griese injuring himself running around at a teammate's house. Now, it's Bears defensive end Bryan Robinson who will need surgery to repair two broken wrists after tripping over his dog.

Are teams allowed to take out "klutz" insurance on their players?

-- Information from other news organizations was used in this report.

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