As a fan, there are certain teams you learn to find hatred for. I’m not talking about passing dislike that may fade when that team falls into mediocrity, I’m talking passionate hatred that fills you to the core and causes you to revel in the schadenfreude you feel whenever something terrible happens to that team. In my NFL fandom, I’ve developed a hatred for seven teams.
In no particular order, the group consists of the following teams:
I imagine you can narrow down the reasons for the majority of the teams I have listed in my group marked for death, but there may be one name that sticks out: Jacksonville. To me, Jacksonville (similar to the Colts) signifies the NFL’s seeming disregard and utter contempt for the city of Baltimore from 1984 through 1995. The uniforms, the team, and the city remind me of the famous quote from former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue, telling Baltimore to take money earmarked for a new NFL stadium and build a new museum or manufacturing plant instead.
For those that don’t remember the details, here are some highlights of the situation:
In May of 1991, the NFL announced it was expanding from 28 to 30 teams for the 1995 season and cities started lining up for the opportunity to have professional football come town. Cities with previous NFL pedigree like Oakland, St. Louis, and Baltimore began an effort to rekindle their relationship with pro football while other locales like Sacramento, Charlotte, Memphis, and Jacksonville all offered the enticement of breaking new ground in areas previously untouched by the NFL. By May of 1992, the NFL had whittled the contenders down to five potential new teams: the Baltimore Bombers, the St. Louis Stallions, the Carolina Panthers, the Memphis Hound Dogs, and the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Despite having what was considered one of the stronger bids, the prospective Bomber franchise had a problem: the NFL braintrust. Commissioner Tagliabue and his cronies apparently had what former Baltimore Sun reporter Vito Stellino referred to as an “A.B.B Policy” or anyone but Baltimore. Tagliabue, current NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, and Washington Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke worked behind the scenes to railroad any chance for Baltimore to gain momentum as the city of choice for the final expansion franchise.
By the end of 1993, Carolina and Jacksonville were anointed as worthy of the NFL.
So why not Charm City? You see, “reasoned” Tagliabue and the NFL, some cities are football towns and some are museum towns. Plus, Baltimore was “clearly” part of the Washington DC market and plans were in the works for Cooke and the Redskins to replace RFK Stadium with a shiny new palace in Laurel, a location close enough to Baltimore to finally put any hope of getting a new NFL team to rest.
The whole process was pretty much a sham and a slap in the face to the city and community. Those involved in the process from the Baltimore side were disillusioned and disgusted.
“I’m sorry,” prospective Bombers owner Leonard “Boogie” Weinglass told the New York Times. “I’ve had enough, enough.”
Another prospective Bombers owner and future Tampa Bay Buccaneers owner Malcolm Glazer, told the Times, “I’m going to go home and cry. I feel very sad. Baltimore has a group of fans you can’t find anywhere else in America.”
Growing up when I did was a very frustrating time to be an NFL fan with an allegiance to the city of Baltimore. I was too young to remember the Colts (I wasn’t even five years old when they left town), but never felt comfortable rooting for the Redskins. While I have Washington fans in my family, I was told by many other relatives that Baltimore fans “don’t root for DC teams, especially the Redskins.”
Like many young people my age and many former Colts fans, I was a fan without a team. The expansion process was both exciting and disheartening, leaving me among the many with an understandably bad taste in their mouths. I associate that bad taste with Jacksonville.
Why not Carolina? To me, geographically it works to have a team in the Carolinas. The NFL wanted a new market and, with the early 90’s success of the Charlotte Hornets, that area seemed like a good choice for a previously untouched NFL market.
By contrast, Jacksonville, with no other professional teams, came into the league as one of the smallest NFL cities and the second smallest television market. The Jaguar group also dropped out of the expansion derby for a month in July and August of 1993 when they failed to come to an agreement on a new stadium with the city of Jacksonville. The group only returned after Tagliabue’s urging and the city agreed to refurbish the Gator Bowl.
In short, Jacksonville was Tagliabue’s hand-picked choice, so he didn’t have to do the unthinkable and return the NFL to Baltimore.
Of course, by 1996 that all changed. The NFL’s poorly executed expansion led to an unplanned restructuring of the league via franchise relocations in the mid-90s with many of the spurned expansion cities being involved:
- The Raiders moving from Los Angeles back to Oakland
- The Rams moving from Los Angeles to St. Louis
- The Oilers (aka Titans) moving from Houston to Nashville (via Memphis)
- The Browns (aka Ravens) moving from Cleveland to Baltimore
In turn, this led to another expansion that returned pro football to Cleveland and Houston.
In the end, Baltimore was probably better off. If the expansion team had been awarded, we likely would not have had the pleasure of two Super Bowl titles; the Hall-of-Fame careers of Jonathan Ogden, Ray Lewis, and Ed Reed; and the steady leadership of Ozzie Newsome and one of the best front office groups in pro sports.
With that said, I still can’t get over it. I hate the Jags…
I had a lot of fun researching this post and reading through all of the information that is out there about the expansion process of the prospective teams. Here are some quick hits you may find interesting:
- Baltimore had three ownership groups interested in having a team in the city. The heads of the three groups were local businessman Leonard “Boogie” Weinglass, future Tampa Bay Buccaneers owner Malcolm Glazer, and future Cleveland Browns owner Al Lerner. How hilarious would it have been if our owner was named “Boogie”…?
- You can get a glimpse of the what the Baltimore Bombers uniforms and logo would have looked like in an old post from 2012 by my BSR colleague Zach Wilt here.
- How great was the name for the Memphis team? The Hound Dogs is awsome and, yes, Elvis’ family was involved in the ownership group.