Culver City commercial real estate broker Joe Clarke has long been a fantasy football fanatic. This season, he’s running five teams in five separate fantasy leagues. He does pretty well, too: Two of his teams are in first place.

That would be enough football for most folks. But over the past year, real football has taken a larger role in Clarke’s professional life. He’s been offering whatever assistance he can to Inglewood Mayor James Butts Jr. in that city’s effort to lure the St. Louis Rams to a stadium at the former Hollywood Park site.

He even pushed for craft brewer Three Weavers Brewing Co. to move into an abandoned warehouse in the city, and he helped the company win an exemption to a citywide moratorium on new alcohol licenses.

“Among other things, the brewery would service a new stadium,” said Clarke, 30.

But alas, there is a slight conflict: Clarke has been a longtime Oakland Raiders fan.

“It would be nice to have the Raiders come back,” he said.

The Raiders and San Diego Chargers are trying to win National Football League approval to relocate to a stadium to be built in Carson, which is in direct competition with the proposed Inglewood stadium.

With all this football in his life, Clarke said he’s planning on scaling back a bit on his fantasy football involvement.

“Five teams is just too many to manage effectively; I’m probably going to just have three teams next year,” he said.

Warming Up to USC

When C.L. Max Nikias took over in 2010 as president of USC, he knew he wanted to bolster the school’s already ascendant academic reputation. And that he did, establishing 77 endowed faculty chairs during his tenure.

Nikias, 63, said the revitalization of downtown Los Angeles has certainly made the neighborhood around the university more appealing to work and play in. That’s helped him bring high-profile professors such as former CIA Director David Petraeus and former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to the school’s Exposition Park campus. The school’s $650 million USC Village project – the largest in the history of South Los Angeles – will only add to the transformation.

But despite the massive changes, Nikias said his secret recruiting weapon is something that’s been in Los Angeles all along – winter sunshine.

“When we recruit faculty from the Midwest, we bring them out here in January and February,” he said. “That’s how we close the deal.”

Staff reporters Howard Fine and Matt Pressberg contributed to this column. Page 3 is compiled by Editor Charles Crumpley. He can be reached at

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