Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2004 | 9:17 a.m.
Ron Kantowski is a Las Vegas Sun sports writer. Reach him at [email protected] or (702) 259-4088.
Those of you standing in line for Expos season tickets can only hope Major League Baseball's relocation committee didn't read the paper or watch the local news last weekend.
Any city that works up a lather over who is going to be the coach of its arena football team cannot possibly be ready to host a real major league sports franchise, now can it?
If you thought having Danny White as Gladiators coach was going to ensure the long-term success or more crucial, the box office viability of our entry in the hybrid football league, your goalpost net simply doesn't go all the way to the top.
Because when it comes to putting butts in the seats, Danny White would finish a distant second to Betty White in Las Vegas.
Danny White was a solid NFL quarterback, which, when it's all said and done, will be his claim to fame. It won't be leading the Arizona Cactus Rats (or whatever they call the football-in-a-can team in Phoenix) to two Arena Bowl championships.
Maybe that counts for something in Grand Rapids or Cedar Rapids or whatever Rapids the Rams discovered Kurt Warner floating down. But not here.
Just ask John Robinson. Now in the twilight of a fabulous coaching career, perhaps the UNLV football coach hasn't kept up with the West Coast offense the way he might have during his halcyon days at Southern Cal. Still, I'd put his coaching expertise and star quotient against White's on any day ending in "Y," or those on which ESPN televises college football.
Robinson's UNLV legacy, and it's not one to sneeze at in a dubious city for live sports, will be putting Rebel football on the Things To Do When There Isn't A Good Game On TV list. And yet, the only times the Rebels sell out Sam Boyd Stadium is when Wisconsin comes to town, BYU is having a good year or a bunch of X Game-types from Southern California rev up their supercross motorcycles.
So I actually applaud the Gladiators for telling White to take a hike upon learning of his salary demands. Coaches in a league where the teams are named in the manner of roller derby franchises (VooDoo, Rampage, Yard Dawgz, etc.) don't, or at least shouldn't, make $200,000 for drawing X's and O's on a chalk board, especially when there are three fewer to draw. If that was White's demand, as has been reported, I'd say he's still a little woozy after being sacked by the remnants of the Steel Curtain.
Not to belittle winning and losing and Arena Bowl titles, but if it wasn't for the rich guys who own sports arenas not having the means to make an extra buck on them after the real football season ends, the arena-style bastardization of the game most likely wouldn't exist.
When done right, arena football can be a nice little diversion for sports fans who can't get away to spring training. But it's still little more than a business venture for famous Johns (such as Elway and Bon Jovi) and a tenuous one at that, so the Gladiators have more important things to do than worry about the coach who got away. Danny White might be the arena football equivalent of Vince Lombardi, but winning isn't everything in this sport. And it certainly isn't the only thing.
In fact, I would put it somewhere behind cheap tickets, free-flowing beer, skimpy cheerleaders uniforms and the volume of the rock music played in the arena among the keys to harboring a successful franchise.
That's something even Danny White and his agent should admit to.