NFL To Los Angeles: Let the politicking begin

I wrote last week about a subtle but significant shift occurring in the quest to bring the National Football League back to Los Angeles. And it could mean the end is in sight.

As I wrote:

Very quietly, albeit noticeably, the league office is beginning to transition the process into decision-making mode, and the result is the influence of the NFL office now yields to the influence of owners.

After talking to various league and team executives, the shift was inevitable. Ultimately, the league’s 32 owners will decide between the two stadium sites and the three teams. Any team wishing to relocate – or in this case get approval for their L.A. stadium – needs 24 votes of approval.

The ball, then, is beginning its slow roll into the owners court.

Upon doing more poking around, I was told the inevitable shift will likely result in more and more owners articulating their positions moving forward. With owners across the league getting more up-to-date with the two L.A. area projects – and influence being shifted more and more to them – there is more of a comfort level with articulating their positions and perhaps a need or motivation to politic for their preferred outcome.

That process is ongoing, as was illustrated by a recent report in Pro Football Talk suggesting a group of influential owners led by Carolina’s Jerry Richardson is more in favor of the Raiders and Chargers Carson project annd against the Rams’ proposed move to Inglewood.

That is significant, as Richardson is a member of the NFL’s six-owner L.A. owners committee.

As PFT wrote:

As one source put it, Richardson and other owners view the Chargers and Raiders as more eligible to move under the league’s relocation policy, especially since it appears that St. Louis has cobbled together a viable plan for building a new stadium and keeping the Rams in the place they’ve been for the last 20 years.

Also, a move by the Chargers, who have tried for more than a decade to build a new stadium in San Diego, is viewed as the least disruptive to existing fan bases.

In response to a request for comment from PFT, Richardson said only that “we have every reason to believe that re-entry of the NFL into the Los Angeles market will be successful.”

The sense I get is this is all part of the process, and it will be more prevalent going into next week’s owners meeting in New York and certainly in the aftermath.

I’ve been told next week’s owners meeting may yield more pronounced opinions from some owners relative to a prefered stadium site.

The factors that will come into play are site preference, relocation guidelines, long-range vision for Los Angeles, and the common sense in solving the Chargers and Raiders long-term stadium issues with a California-based solution.

As such, you can expect more stories surfacing that prop up or disparage either Inglewood or Carson as well as stories that shift the narrative to guidelines.

It’s all part of the game.

One thing that might also become more clear is what role the six-owner L.A. owners committee will take in terms of shaping direction. And that is a key aspect.

One of the few things all three teams seem to agree on is that the committee is sympathetic to Dean Spanos’ difficulty getting a stadium done on San Diego, and therefor more in favor of Carson . The question is, will the committee be viewed as one voice or as six individual votes among 32 total votes?

I’ve gotten conflicting opinions on the committees role, ranging from:

  1. Past history suggests owners typically follow the lead of the the lead committee.
  2. This situation is so unique – you rarely get an owner vs. owner issue – so the committee’s recommendation might not count as much as in past decisions.

In any event, this is all to be expected in such a volatile process.