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Sports Column: Los Angeles deserves NFL football franchise

Everything about Los Angeles screams of showbiz. It’s the home of models and movie stars, the posh and the powerful. Perhaps the city has the greatest disparity between the uber-wealthy and the poorest of the poor in the country.

But there’s also disparity between the city’s sports landscape and its conspicuous lack of a National Football League team. Los Angeles is easily the largest U.S. city that has no pro team on the gridiron, and that problem has only become more evident as other teams in the City of Angels have gained prominence in the national spotlight.

If you include nearby Anaheim, Los Angeles has two teams playing at the highest level of basketball, baseball and hockey, and five of those six squads have been worth the price of admission in recent weeks.

The best two stories in California are the upstart Los Angeles Kings, who have absolutely dominated the NHL Playoffs, and their hardwood sidekicks, the Clippers. The Clippers have emerged from decades of despair and obscurity to make an honest run into the NBA postseason. They fell to the San Antonio Spurs in four games, but the terrific tandem of Blake Griffin and Chris Paul will continue to make Los Angeles a two-team town in the NBA landscape.

Los Angeles has always favored the Lakers, but the Clippers drew more fans than their purple compatriots this season. Even with both teams’ second-round exits from the NBA Playoffs, that’s good news for the rivalry, the league and Los Angeles as a whole.

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have been disappointing this year but are still a spectacle — almost like Punxsutawney Phil, who is destined to see his shadow and invoke more winter each year simply because flash photography produces a shadow.

Super-slugger Albert Pujols has been underwhelming since moving to the West Coast, but he’s such a big name that he’ll continue to draw a crowd even when he’s slumping. And he’s far too good to stay this bad for the entire season — but that’s what they said about Adam Dunn last year, too.

Los Angeles still supports the Dodgers, which have new life under new ownership. A group led by former Lakers standout Earvin “Magic” Johnson purchased the team after its previous owner, Frank McCourt, fell upon hard times and filed for the team’s bankruptcy protection.

The Dodgers also have found success on the diamond, as slugger Matt Kemp has helped them to first place in the NL West. They are a remarkable 19-4 at home and show no signs of slowing down.

And then there are the Los Angeles Kings, who barely squeaked into the Stanley Cup playoffs before turning on the jet engines and soaring past each of their three opponents so far. The Kings needed only 14 games to collect 12 wins and have a perfect 8-0 record on the road. They will attempt to become the first eighth-seeded team to win the cup when the finals start next week.

Los Angeles has had a pro football team before, and at some point it will again. It simply does not make sense that the cash-hungry league has no team in the nation’s second-largest media market. The best option is to re-brand the Jacksonville Jaguars, who struggle for attention almost as much as they struggle for first downs. Or perhaps Los Angeles can woo back the Rams, whose headquarters is still located in Southern California.

The City of Angels can work wonders for the NFL, and with sports fans actively engaged all around town, now is as good a time as ever to put the gridiron back on the grid in Hollywood.

— Michael Stainbrook is a junior studying journalism and the sports editor of The Post. Think L.A. is less than angelic? Email him at

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