Nomads — er, Locos — taking things slowly

I suppose if they really were going for a reference that would honor the vast history of Las Vegas, the local United Football League team could have settled on the nickname Nomads.

You know, to pay tribute to how those Paleo Indians lived in the valley hundreds of years ago.

You know, because of how many people around here who still think of those times …

Sort of like, well, trains.

As it is, your new UFL team announced Monday it will be known as the Locomotives. The Locos, to you and your friends.

It’s true railroad executives planted the city in 1905 to meet needs for fuel, ice and repair, but mention a train here nowadays and someone is going to ask if you’re headed to Ely or making plans to ride with Santa in Boulder City.

You get the idea.

The nickname is a bit loco.

But they ultimately don’t decide whether a new professional league survives beyond a season to two. Neither do uniforms, and my opinion on them always has been anything less extreme than the latest eyesore the University of Oregon creates is just fine.

That goes for the silver-and-blue outfits to be worn by the Locomotives. The league obviously wanted Las Vegas to closely resemble the best local team to play in Sam Boyd Stadium in recent years, which means those up at UNR should be ecstatic today.

The central message being sent by the UFL has nothing to do with how the Las Vegas team will look or what it will be called.

The message: This inaugural season is more guinea pig than anything you might find at a pet store. It is there for your enjoyment but shouldn’t be taken seriously at all until the experiment proves capable of expanding.

And maybe that’s not such a bad approach.

We have seen crash and burn before when it comes to American-based leagues hoping to become a successful complement to the mighty NFL.

The XFL existed for one season with eight teams and 10 games. The USFL opened with 12 teams and 18 games and was dead after three years. The World League debuted with 12 teams and 20 games and folded 12 games into its second season.

There is a lesson in there somewhere about wanting to be too big too fast. That won’t be an issue for the UFL, which has four teams and a six-game schedule. Pop Warner seasons are more daunting.

The Locos won’t train here. Won’t live here. Won’t even play a game here beyond the season’s second week — Oct. 14 — unless they qualify for the Nov. 27 championship.

It is a flaw apparently caused by stadium conflicts elsewhere but doesn’t dismiss the fact creating much buzz locally will be nearly impossible the first season. The UFL for weeks will be out of sight, out of mind, out of opportunity to sell much Locomania.

“When I first saw the final schedule, I told them, ‘They’re going to kill us about this,’ ” Las Vegas coach Jim Fassel said. “But like I told our coaches and players — we are starting, and all decisions are being made for the long term. It’s on me to get our team back here for that last game, and that’s what we’re going to do.

“We have to bridge that gap with (fans). We could have opened with 12 teams and 16 games and have already moved here. That’s a recipe for failure.

“We’re doing things a better way. We’re giving people a taste this first season. I’m not so much worried about it as I am making sure we get the kinks out and are around for the long haul.”

Something they can do in the meantime: Sign former UNLV wide receiver Casey Flair.

This is beyond an easy decision. Flair attended Monday’s news conference on his own, expertly worked out for the team in June and is one of the best at his position in UNLV history.

You don’t sign local players solely for any amount of publicity — small as it might be — that your league might receive. But know that for the UFL, any promotion is good promotion.

Flair is good enough to be one of 62 players invited to training camp (especially when two spots are held exclusively for local players), and then it’s on him to prove worthy of a spot on the 50-man roster.

If so, he would wear the uniform of a Las Vegas Locomotive.

I would like to believe Nomads was a close second.

Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ed Graney can be reached at or 702-383-4618. He also can be heard weeknights from 11 p.m.-1 a.m. on “The Sports Scribes” on KDWN-AM (720).

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