IRVING, Texas (AP) — NFL owners have punted on allowing teams to move to Los Angeles — at least for five weeks.
The owners on Wednesday set a special meeting to deal with a possible relocation of teams to Los Angeles for Jan. 12-13 in Houston. But Commissioner Roger Goodell admitted there might not even be a vote then.
“It’s not a requirement that we vote at that meeting,” Goodell said. “There are still a lot of unknowns to make that prediction.”
The Rams, Raiders and Chargers are interested in moving to LA, which has not had an NFL franchise since the Rams and Raiders left after the 1994 season. But the 32 owners, 24 of whom are required to OK a franchise relocation, are seeking more information from the cities hoping to retain their franchises: St. Louis, Oakland and San Diego.
There also is nothing close to a clear consensus on approval of either of the stadium proposals for LA.
Rams owner Stan Kroenke is planning a billion-dollar stadium in Inglewood, California, while the Raiders and Chargers have a joint project in mind for nearby Carson. Kroenke also is willing to share his proposed stadium with either the Chargers or Raiders.
“All the proposals must be in by the end of December,” Giants co-owner Steve Tisch said, adding “it is the strong hope” of the league that the vote on relocation will come out of that meeting.
“It’s so tough to talk about drop-dead dates because this is herding cats,” Tisch said, drawing chuckles from reporters.
Colts owner Jimmy Irsay added that getting 24 owners to approve any of the proposals was a difficult chore, but was optimistic a decision would be made in Houston. He also strongly defended the three-quarters majority for approval.
“We’ve had this three-quarter rule that’s in existence for a long time. It’s a strong foundation of our league,” Irsay said. “Usually when you get a three-quarters vote, you get 24 teams, you really have a good decision, a thoughtful decision made by more than just a simple majority.
“Right now, if we were voting today, I don’t see anything getting 24 votes. That certainly can change with more discussion. We want to hear more as we move forward in the next five weeks. I think there will be a vote (in January).”
Goodell said he believes the Los Angeles relocation committee “intends to make a recommendation” on the LA stadium proposals at some point, even if it is not in Houston. He added “the membership wants them to make a recommendation.”
Goodell consistently has advised against establishing a timeline on the issue.
“I am in favor of making sure this is done the right way,” he said. “The ownership has expressed their desire to get this done in a reasonable amount of time.”
In St. Louis, a governor-appointed stadium task force is developing plans for a $1 billion stadium along the Mississippi River as part of the effort to either keep the Rams or even lure another team.
That project is much further along than anything proposed by San Diego. Oakland has made virtually no viable stadium proposals, the NFL has said repeatedly.
There’s even the possibility the Rams could wind up in Los Angeles and another team moves to St. Louis if a satisfactory new stadium is built.
“It’s going to be musical chairs,” Tisch said. “Well, it is musical chairs right now. But the music hasn’t stopped yet. That seat hasn’t been removed.”
—Goodell said he asked the league’s powerful competition committee to look into how games are officiated, and the size of the rule book. He’s seeking suggestions on clarifying and simplifying the rules, as well as how the league trains officials. Goodell said “no stone will be left unturned” in examining and improving officiating.
The NFL has been plagued by missed or erroneous calls in games this season.
—Goodell has asked various “football personnel” to examine the confusing catch rule. He reached out last month to former players, coaches, general managers and others, “to come together and try and see if we can study this and come up with proposals for the competition committee to consider.”
What constitutes a completed catch has been a controversial subject for years. Goodell wants those people to examine how the play is officiated and coached, and “how fans react to this.”
—The owners voted to allow compensatory draft picks to be traded beginning in 2017. In the past, those picks — awarded to teams for losing a certain number of free agents — have not been tradeable.
—The league reduced the window for player agents to contact teams about free agents. That goes from three days before the expiration of a player’s contract to two days.