Recent relocations of NFL teams are a rarity

Over the last year, there have been three teams in the National Football League that have relocated to a new city or will relocate in the next couple seasons. It has been crazy to see this much movement of professional sports teams and it’s rare that it happens this frequently. The Rams, Chargers and Raiders either have a new home, or will in the near future.

Before the start of the 2016 season, the Rams moved back to Los Angeles, where they previously were from 1946 to 1994. They sustained some success in St. Louis during the early years from 1995 to 2015, as they were known for the “Greatest Show on Turf” for their prolific offense. The Rams claimed a victory in Super Bowl XXXIV by defeating the Tennessee Titans 23-16, which is known for “The Tackle,” where Titan receiver Kevin Dyson came up one yard short from a potential game-tying touchdown.

The Rams fell into a drought at the beginning of the 2005 season and failed to make the playoffs in their last years in St. Louis. The move back to Los Angeles was hope that the team could once again succeed, but they did not show much promise in their first season back, finishing with a dismal 4-12 record, which led to the firing of Head Coach Jeff Fisher.

The Chargers called San Diego home for 56 years from 1961 to 2016 and will be joining the Rams in Los Angeles. Over their history in San Diego, the Chargers racked up 14 Division Championships, but failed to translate those into Super Bowl-winning seasons. There was one year they made it to the biggest game, Super Bowl XXIX, where they fell to Steve Young’s 49ers with a final score of 49-26.

Philip Rivers has been the longtime Chargers quarterback since 2004, who has shown spurts of being a stellar player at the position. Numerous injuries to top name players and the inconsistency of team chemistry hasn’t allowed him to make a deep run into the playoffs and he looks to win some big games with the new and exciting move to Los Angeles.

Even though the Chargers were in Southern California for so long, their first season was actually in 1960, where they played in the city they’ll be playing in next season. The franchise’s owner, Dean Spanos, said that Los Angeles still has fans from back in the day and that the team must get back to winning if it’s going to earn respect of their football fans.

The third team that will be moving, the Raiders, were actually in Los Angeles from 1982 to 1994, where they claimed their third championship in Super Bowl XVIII over the Washington Redskins 38-9. During their last years in Los Angeles, the team had trouble finding success in the playoffs and owner Al Davis wanted to move the team back to Oakland.
In 1995, the Raiders were back in Oakland, looking to win another Super Bowl. During the 2001 season, it looked like they were on their way to accomplishing that if not for a crazy play that occurred during the Divisional Round of the playoffs against the New England Patriots.

Late in the fourth quarter, it appeared that Raiders cornerback Charles Woodson stripped quarterback Tom Brady, giving the ball to Oakland with 1:43 remaining. After replay, Referee Walt Coleman determined that it was an incomplete pass, where Brady had pump-faked and tucked the ball into his body, which by rule was not a fumble. The Patriots ended up winning the game 16-13, in what is known as the “Tuck Rule Game.”

Coincidentally, Coleman has never worked another Raiders game during his career. He has worked 229 regular season games, including 17 that involved the Patriots and at least nine for every other NFL team. None of those games featured the Raiders.

A year later, the Raiders reached Super Bowl XXXVII, getting blown out by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 48-21. They had a stretch of consecutive losing seasons and finally showed promise this season with Derek Carr at quarterback. Unfortunately in Week 16 against the Indianapolis Colts, Carr suffered a gruesome broken fibula and was ruled out indefinitely. The team was unable to win in the playoffs, getting taken out by the Houston Texans 27-14 in the Wild Card round.

It looks like Oakland will not have a football team in the next few seasons, as the organization filed relocation papers to move to Las Vegas. It is a process that will take several weeks, but if it were approved, which seems likely, the team would play in Oakland for a couple seasons before moving by 2020.

With these recent moves of NFL teams relocating to another city, this may be the stepping-stone for other teams to decide if they want to move. There are actually 20 teams in the league who have never moved, six teams who moved once, two teams who moved then went back (Chargers, Raiders), two teams that moved multiple times (Rams, Cardinals) and two teams that were a part of the Cleveland Browns relocation controversy (Browns, Ravens).

The majority of teams have not moved, where the teams who have moved don’t mind making another change, including the Rams, Chargers and Raiders. What comes to be known is whether these relocations are good for the NFL and if the team’s fan bases are stabilized in the city their team was in, or the new city their team will be in.

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