NFL is one of the most popular sports in the US. It is enjoyed by neutral fans and staunch supporters of each franchise. It is one of the top sports for gambling in the States and has increased around the world, with millions of people checking for free NFL picks in the sports press every single week.
The peculiar thing about football is that despite its deep and rich history, there is never any guarantee that a team will stay where it is today. Franchises can move or be traded with little warning and in some cases, fans have been left devastated by the disappearance of their hometown team. Others though have been overjoyed to welcome an NFL franchise to their city.
History of Moving
There was a great deal of instability in the early days of the NFL and there certainly wasn't the money in the sport that there is today. Teams from small towns moved to larger cities to go where the money was and ultimately to survive. Some franchises merged to cut down running costs and as you can imagine, mergers between fierce rivals was not always met with fan approval.
It became less necessary by the end of the last century, but owners will sometimes go to where there's more money and several franchises upped sticks and, in some cases, moved to opposite sides of the country. Reasons given for moving franchises have often been a bit of a grey area and fans of franchises who have left Baltimore, St Louis and Cleveland all heavily opposed moves which eventually happened anyway.
Big City, No Football
It sounds almost inconceivable, but Los Angeles, the second largest media market in the US and a city with a population of almost 4 million people was without an NFL franchise for 20 years from 1995 to 2015.
The league was unhappy with this, but it would mean uprooting an established franchise to give the city a team.
St Louis Rams, a franchise which had moved from LA many years earlier, was given permission to return in 2016. The San Diego Chargers also moved to LA in 2017. Another former Los
Angeles franchise, the Raiders who have moved between the City of Angels and Oakland on more than one occasion shall not be returning and are instead cited for a relocation to Las Vegas by 2020
San Diego and San Antonio are the largest metropolitan areas in the US who are currently franchise-less.
Outside the US there is talk of creating NFL franchises in Toronto and London.
Notable Franchise Moves
- Boston Redskins to Washington DC in 1937
- Chicago Cardinals to St Louis in 1960
- Dallas Texans to Kansas City (as Chiefs) in 1963
- Baltimore Colts to Indianapolis in 1984
- St Louis Cardinals to Phoenix in 1988 – became Arizona Cardinals in 1994
- Houston Oilers to Memphis (as Tennessee Oilers) in 1997 and then to Nashville (as Tennessee Titans) in 1998