The Sad Tale of an NFL Fan in Los Angeles

Alex WilkContributor IApril 16, 2009

BALTIMORE - NOVEMBER 5:  Three footballs lay on the field prior to the game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on November 5, 2006 in Baltimore, Maryland.  The Ravens defeated the Bengals 26-20. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Break out your harmonicas, folks. It's time to play the blues.

As the NFL Draft approaches and fans around the country gear up for a veritable Christmas (or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa) in April, us poor folks in Los Angeles are left to enjoy the weather and pretend we don't care.

Sure, we have a basketball team likely headed for a championship game.

Sure, we have the strongest lineup in Chavez Ravine that anyone can remember.

Nearly 15 years after the Rams and Raiders deserted our fair city, however, fans in Los Angeles are still yearning for pro football. (No, USC doesn't count.)

For those who think this town is too glitzy to care about pro football, think again. Fans here have gone to ridiculous lengths to preserve some sort of interest in America's most popular sport.

Take me, for example. I was five when the teams left, and I'm pretty sure I was more involved with how Barney would find a lost shoe or something than Al Davis' motives for moving back to Oakland.

Around eight years old, I started to watch NFL games more regularly, but, without an L.A. team to root for, I felt left out. So, I asked my dad, as big of a sports freak as I am, which team he rooted for.

His response? This.

Understandable, for someone who moved from Chicago just before the mid-'80s, but still highly unfortunate for a poor kid looking to find an identity as a fan.

Over the next decade, my allegiance skipped from Chicago, to the Jets, to the 49ers, to the Ravens, to the Bears again, and then, finally, to the Jaguars.

My reasoning for each of these changes was murky at best, ranging from "I watched Keyshawn Johnson at USC sometimes" to "I have a great-aunt who lives in Baltimore." Finally, I settled on Jacksonville for three reasons:

1. I already hated the Colts.

2. Teal is a cool color.

3. They were surprisingly good in Madden 2006.

And I'm not the only one. I know people my age in this city who have based their entire football lives on blatant bandwagoning. That kid with the Packers No. 4 jersey who has never been to Wisconsin but wanted to see his team win. The one with the Chargers hat who cites LaDanian Tomlinson and then adds in the short distance as an afterthought. The USC fan who still clings to Carson Palmer's Bengals.

Absurd, of course, but such is the fate of a sports-obsessed kid growing up in a town without a pro team. Such is the fate of someone who had no reason to follow the Raiders or Rams before they left, much less after. Such is the fate of a child abandoned by the NFL and left alone in the dark, forced to listen to the sweet sounds of roaring crowds on television! O, WOE IS ME!

I'm kidding, of course (I think), but the point is the same. Los Angeles, a town of nearly four million, needs an NFL franchise. The new stadium still feels like a pipe dream, and maybe it is.

Until the day that we have a team that we can call our own, however, please excuse us for not going ga-ga over the draft this month.

Just text us when Sanchez gets picked.