By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
If Anaheim's bid for an NFL franchise proves successful, one thing is certain: the team will fare badly. Clipper badly. For whatever reason, Anaheim and football go together about as well as cookies and ass. It doesn't matter if we're talking professional, college or high school, Anaheim is where football dreams meet ignominious ends, or, worse, Georgia Frontiere. A few low highlights:
WORLD FOOTBALL LEAGUE/ SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA SUN
Of the four football leagues created during the past 60 years that set out to topple the NFL—the All-American Football Conference, the American Football League, the World Football League and the United States Football League—the WFLeague (founded by two Newport Beach lawyers) was by far the worst, folding after just one and a half seasons. The league's local affiliate, the Southern California Sun, played in Anaheim Stadium and is best remembered for its magenta-and-orange uniforms, mankind's first attempt at Lasik eye surgery.
LOS ANGELES RAMS OF ANAHEIM
Believe it or not, Tom Umberg, there was a time when Anaheim was happy its Anaheim Stadium tenant went by the moniker of "Los Angeles." That would've been when the Los Angeles Rams left the Los Angeles Coliseum in 1980 for Anaheim Stadium and became . . . the Los Angeles Rams. Anaheim officials never really cared for the team, especially after the Rams became better known in the '90s for watermelon-wearing fans, happy-footed quarterback Jim "Chris" Everett and looney-toon owner Georgia Frontiere. The Lambs left for St. Louis in 1995 and went on to win Super Bowl XXXIV. In accepting the championship trophy, Frontiere told the world that the victory "proves to me that we did the right thing in going to St. Louis." Funny: Anaheim officials still think the same thing.
ANAHEIM HIGH SCHOOL
Since my senior year—1997—when the Colonists shared the Orange League title with the Valencia Tigers, Anaheim High has gone 10-70, the worst record in Orange County prep football in that time. A shame, really, since Anaheim was OC's first great football dynasty, a Southern California powerhouse until the 1970s when Mexicans like me started to brown up the school.
There were many low moments in the history of this college football bowl, starting with the first, which was played under hurricane-type conditions—welcome to sunny California: one game was so boring and uneventful that a punter was elected bowl MVP. It was at the Freedom Bowl that USC football bottomed out in 1992, losing to Fresno State, 24-7. Lackluster match-ups—Tulsa vs. San Diego State? Woohoo!—begat poor attendance, until the final Freedom Bowl was played: a dreary 16-13 victory by Utah over Arizona in which the Utes managed all of 75 yards of offense and five first downs. Freedom truly was another word for nothing left to do . . . except not watch the Freedom Bowl.
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS TRAIN IN ANAHEIM . . . FOR ABOUT A MONTH
What is it about idiot Seattle pro-team owners with Orange County dreams? First, local bloated businessman George Argyros bought the Mariners in the '80s and treated the franchise so poorly that he was ranked as one of the worst sports owners ever—yes, right up there with Donald Sterling. Then, in the spring of 1996, Seahawks owner Ken Behring ordered his players to head south and conduct spring practice in what is now Anaheim's Oxford Academy. Behring sang the praises of Anaheim, vowing to move here, going so far to attend a "Welcome Ken Behring" party at the Pacific Club—where he promptly thanked everyone and announced the Seahawks were staying put in Seattle.