NFL will defer to Raiders on Oakland stadium pursuit

I’ve been getting a lot of questions this morning about a story in the San Francisco Chronicle suggesting NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is making calls to Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf “pushing the idea of letting a predominantly African American investment group, led by former 49ers star Ronnie Lott, help build a new stadium for the Raiders in Oakland.”

You can read the story here.

Before getting into the league’s involvement in this – and my league sources made it very clear as recently as this morning they will defer to the Raiders on their Oakland stadium pursuit – the Raiders position on Lott’s group or any other group is secondary at this point to the various obstacles impeding a stadium deal in Oakland.

As it relates specifically to Lott and his team, the fairest and most accurate way to put it upon canvassing the Raiders is this: The Raiders have tremendous respect for Lott as an NFL icon and former Raiders player, but from their perspective the issues in Oakland as it relates to land use and the long-term lease the Oakland A’s have at the Oakland Coliseum are far more pressing and pertinent in securing a stadium deal than identifying a potential developer or investor to help bridge any funding gap.

The Raiders can’t move forward in Oakland – with Lott or anyone else – until the city of Oakland and the County of Alameda provide clarity on usage and cost of the 120 acres the Raiders wish to use for stadiums for themselves and the A’s.

Which is why the Raiders have turned their attention to Las Vegas, where they have made a commitment to relocate if Nevada approves funding on a proposed stadium.

As far as the commissioner making calls on Lott’s behalf, upon doing some poking around, I think it’s a bit ambitious to conclude Goodell is making calls urging Mayor Schaaf to support a group led by Lott for the reasons described. Or that the commissioner is backing any particular Oakland plan – let alone one without the current support of the Raiders.

The league’s advice to Oakland has always been – and continues to be – to remain open to the interests of the community, including developers, but to place the Raiders at the center of any proposal.

The league is very clear – and I check in on this periodically, including today – they will defer to the Raiders on their Oakland stadium pursuit. It’s the Raiders call to determine and figure out whether there is a viable proposal to pursue.

And as a league source indicated this morning, the NFL is abundantly transparent on that stance.

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Short primer on NFL owners voting on Super Bowl sites today

CHARLOTTE – The NFL and its 32 owners are in North Carolina today to vote on hosting duties for Super Bowls LIII (2019), LIV (2020) and LV in 2021.

Los Angeles is front and center, and is on the ballot to host either Super Bowl LIV or LV.

The proceedings are about to begin, but expect a full day process with announcements coming at approximately 6 p.m. Charlotte time – or 3 p.m. back home in Los Angeles.

Here is a quick primer on how the process will unfold:

The candidate cities are Atlanta, Los Angeles, New Orleans, South Florida, and Tampa Bay. NFL Senior Vice President of Events Peter O’Reilly and his group will open the proceedings by presenting an overview of each city’s bid.

Then, each city will have 15 minutes to make a presentation. In L.A.’s case, presenting duties will be handled by Wasserman Media Group CEO Casey Wasserman.

By the way, the owners and staff members of the teams from the cities under consideration are not present during this phase.

Upon completion of bid presentations, the owner from the team in each of the bidding cities will have up to five minutes to make a pitch for their city. After which, fellow owners will have an opportunity to ask questions.

At the end of the Q&A’s, voting will commence and will be televised live by NFL Network.

Here is the lineup of bids under consideration:

• Super Bowl LIII: Atlanta, New Orleans, South Florida, Tampa Bay
• Super Bowl LIV: Atlanta, Los Angeles, South Florida, Tampa Bay
• Super Bowl LV: Atlanta, Los Angeles, South Florida, Tampa Bay

Here are voting procedures:

Four Cities

• If in the first vote, one city does not receive the necessary 24 or more votes, the list of the eligible cities will be reduced to the top three plus ties for third, or if there are no ties for third, all cities within one vote of third.

• If after the second vote, no city has received the necessary 24 or more votes, the list of eligible cities will be reduced to the top two and any ties.

• There will be a maximum of one vote to achieve the necessary 24 or more vote for an award when the list is reduced to the top two and ties. If after one vote, no award has been made, the requirement to be selected will be reduced to simple majority vote. Voting continues until an award is made.

Three Cities:

• If in the first vote, one city does not receive the necessary 24 or more votes, Super Bowl voting procedures require a second ballot involving all three cities.

• If after the second vote, no city has received the necessary 24 or more votes, the list of eligible cities will be reduced to the top two and any ties.

• There will be a maximum of one vote to achieve the necessary 24 or more vote for an award when the list is reduced to the top two and ties. If after one vote, no award has been made, the requirement to be selected will be reduced to simple majority vote. Voting continues until an award is made.

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Rams sign former Auburn WR Duke Williams

With a definite need to assemble offensive weapons around rookie quarterback Jared Goff, the Rams double downed at wide receiver and tight end in last week’s draft.

On Tuesday they took a different route in their quest to identify playmakers, and it landed them one of the most talented wide receivers in this year’s draft class.

Albeit one who went undrafted and arrives with a bit of baggage.

The Rams have signed former Auburn wide receiver Duke Williams to a free agent contract after he worked out for the club recently. Williams, a 6-foot-2, 215 pounder enjoyed a productive junior year for the Tigers in 2014, catching 45 passes for 730 yards and five touchdowns. At the time, ESPN Draft analyst Mel Kiper rated Williams as the top wide receiver in the 2016 draft class.

But his 2015 season was cut short after a series of off-field incidents resulted in Auburn kicking him off the team in October. Williams caught just 12 passes last year before being banished from the team after a series of suspensions, team violations and getting into a bar-room brawl.

After going undrafted last week, Williams was immediately invited by the Rams to try out.

They obviously liked what they saw.

With Williams in the fold, he joins recent wide receiver draftees Pharoh Cooper and Michael Thomas on a roster that also includes veterans Tavon Austin, Kenny Britt and Brian Quick.

Williams seemed contrite when explaining, his troubles at Auburn at the NFL Scouting Combine in February.

“I was late to practice many times. Once I got in the doghouse, it was hard for me to get out. I was already in the doghouse, so everything I did, it was being watched. I just had to grow. And I didn’t grow,” Williams said. “So now I’m working to be a man. I put myself in counseling to really find myself as a person, to address the issue before it even happens again.”

Williams also said he was seeking counseling.

“You know, like attitude, the whole thing, everything. Just overall as a person,” he said. “I want to be able to address it right now to where nobody has to tell me what to do anymore.”

Williams left little doubt he’d be considered a top pick without the baggage.

“If I didn’t get in any trouble, I know I’m a legit first-round pick,” he said. “But God got other plans. I’m a first-round pick no matter what.”

The Rams are giving him a chance to prove it.

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