LOS ANGELES The NFL blackout in Los Angeles has finally been lifted. The National Football League announced late Sunday Night that it was awarding an expansion team to the Los Angeles area, effective immediately.
The University of Southern California will immediately begin play in the AFC West on Sunday as it goes on the road to play defending NFC Champions, the Philadelphia Eagles. The Oakland Raiders, to make room for the Trojans, have been demoted to the Pac-10 and will begin this week at the University of Oregon.
Odds makers have already installed the Ducks as a three-point favorite.
NFL spokesman Brian Gooberman said that the league wanted to insure a competitive balance, something that was not likely to happen as long as the Raiders were in the league. Oakland had dropped to 0-2 and it was unlikely to improve. At least not with Kerry Collins at quarterback.
Penalties were a major concern regarding the Raiders, who committed 16 penalties in their opening week loss at New England. The Raiders committed only seven penalties as they lost to Kansas City on Sunday, 23-17. But what big penalties they were.
Randy Moss was flagged for pass interference on an apparent touchdown pass in the second quarter, and two violations halted another Raiders drive in the fourth quarter.
"Until the Raiders can finally play by the rules, we have no choice but to send them back to college to learn about the game," Gooberman said.
Reaction amongst the Raiders players and coaches were mixed. But a number of players and coaches were excited about the opportunity to be in a division they could win.
"To play this schedule and not go to class will be like I never left Marshall," Moss said.
Added coach Norv Turner, "It should be a lot easier to coach against these college guys. There is no reason why I cannot be just as successful as my good friend, Dave Wanstedt."
The Trojans, on the other hand, were very excited to be taking on the new challenge. Quarterback Matt Leinart said that the Trojans offense could finally show what it could do, instead of sitting on the ball in the first quarter to avoid running up the score. The Trojans scored 70 points against SEC fraud Arkansas on Saturday, even though it looked like it could have scored 170.
Rival college coaches, for that reason, rejoiced in the fact that the national championship race was wide open again. Even with the Raiders in the mix.
"We finally have something to play for again other than second place," Texas coach Mack Brown said. "I had pretty much written off the season since it was painfully obvious that USC was going to win the whole thing. This gives us a fighting chance.
"And I am not really concerned with the Raiders, either. They would be the third or fourth best team in the Big XII."
WHO WOULD CHOKE FIRST?
It seemed like the Chargers and Angels were in a race to see who could choke first. The Chargers were gagging a lead to the Broncos on one television, while Scot Shields was doing his best to give the Tigers a lift on the other screen.
It was the Chargers in the end (for the record).
The Chargers bullied the Broncos in the first-half of Sunday's 20-17 loss. The game turned early in the second half before most of the Broncos fans returned to their seats from halftime. Champ Bailey returned an interception for a touchdown that demoralized the Chargers offense, which never looked the same after that moment.
The Chargers are now 0-2 and will play at New England and play host to Pittsburgh after the New York Giants come to town. The team could easily be 1-4 when it plays USC on October 16. The team should stick with Drew Brees until that time, and give Phillip Rivers the start against the unproven Trojans secondary. It is starting to become clear that Brees had a Brady Anderson type of season in 2004 and it is time for the Chargers to make a move to salvage the 2006 season by giving Rivers experience this year.
Stat of the Week: Eighty six percent of teams that have started 0-2 since the playoffs expanded to 12 teams in 1990 have failed to reach the postseason. The number drops to 96 percent for teams that are 0-3.
Stat of the Week, II: No playoff team in 2004 started 0-2.
Class Action Suit: Fantasy football owners across the country are coming together for a class-action suit against the Indianapolis Colts and its players. Ran Carthon scored the only touchdown for the Colts, who managed only 10 points.
NFL Shops Update: The worst selling replica jersey in the NFL? Randall Gay of the Patriots.
Patriot Act: Thanks to all of those NFL experts that have built up the Patriots to such a juggernaut that you believe the team is invincible. The Panthers are one of the top teams in the NFL so it should come as no surprise that Carolina, facing an 0-2 start, beat the Patriots at home. Yet it was. Remember, good teams rise to the challenge to avoid 0-2 starts.
Tough Question: It would be hard to pick the worst quarterback in the NFC North right now. Chicago's Kyle Orton looked like the best on Sunday.
Mike Pool Update: If you have Mike Tice on your list of Mikes (Martz, Shanahan, Sherman, and Tice) to be fired first, your confidence level must be high today.
Premiering This Week: Is it wrong to think Criminal Minds was really an NFL show hosted by Raiders fans? Is it wrong to do a joke about CBS commercials while most of the world is watching DirecTV?
Jake the Snake: There should be a study as to how Jake Plummer can look like Joey Harrington through the first three quarters of the game, but look like Joe Montana when the game is on the line.
Tough Question, II: How could Moss mean so much to the Vikings offense, yet so little to the Raiders? Think how bad the Raiders would be today without Moss.
Hardly Knew Ya: Hope San Francisco had fun last week.
The Green Bay Packers honored the memory of Reggie White on Sunday. Any Hispanics that could proved they lived with 20 other people, blacks that jump around in church, white business owners, or any Asian that could turn a television into a watch was given free admission.
Former First Lady Barbara Bush was on hand for the coin-toss.