SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — What offseason?
There hasn’t been a week — make that a day — since the Super Bowl that the NFL hasn’t made news. As the owners gather this week at their spring meetings, their plate couldn’t be much fuller.
While recent headlines have centered on Tom Brady, the Patriots and deflated footballs, there is plenty else the owners will discuss. For sure, Brady’s suspension, the Patriots’ punishment and the repercussions will be a topic, in many ways an awkward one.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft is among the most influential men in the sport, something of a mentor to Commissioner Roger Goodell through the years. Now, that relationship has hit a significant hurdle.
That the so-called “Deflategate” crisis has come in the wake of so many personal conduct matters means the owners have lots more to think about and talk about than finances, future Super Bowl sites, and extra points.
“The NFL is in an unusual situation at this time and it relates back to the last few years of activities,” said Marc Ganis, president of Chicago-based consulting firm SportsCorp and confidant of many owners. “It’s part of the double-edged sword of having great success. With great success comes great attention.
“I believe there is now investigation fatigue by everyone: by the fans, by the players, the league office, the owners, the teams.”
Still, the deflated football matter won’t go away anytime soon, and it won’t be ignored in San Francisco.
With Goodell on hand, he won’t be hearing Brady’s appeal of his four-game suspension until Thursday at the earliest. Goodell can only hope that “Deflategate” doesn’t get in the way of other key business.
• Whether the NFL will change how extra points are attempted. Three proposals have been made. The Patriots want PAT kicks to come from the 15-yard line and 2-point conversions from the 2. The Eagles want the same distance on the kick, but the 2-point conversion to come from the 1, and if the defensive teams causes a turnover and take it to the other end zone, it gets the two points.
The powerful competition committee proposes the 15-yard line for the kick, the 2 for the 2-point conversion, and the defensive team being allowed to score on a turnover.
• Cities seeking to host Super Bowls beyond the 2018 game in Minneapolis will have their bids revealed. The next series of title games were opened for bidding on May 1.
With the success of the New York outdoor game in February 2014, other cold-weather cities without domes are expected to be considered. Conjecture has included Washington, Philadelphia, Kansas City and Denver, but really no city with the proper infrastructure should be discounted.
Also certain to be interested are Indianapolis, which hosted a super Super Bowl week in 2012, and Atlanta, where a new stadium will be ready long before the next available game is bid upon.
• Television. The Thursday night package on CBS has only this year to run, and there are other potential machinations that could lead to more programming being put up for bidding. Perhaps more playoff qualifiers and games, too.
Which means more billions of dollars for the 32 teams.
• Los Angeles. Ah, yes, LA, which has not hosted an NFL franchise in two decades. Now, three teams are dickering to relocate there — all of them having already called Hollywood home. The Rams and Raiders both left after the 1994 season, while the Chargers played the first season of the AFL in LA before heading to San Diego.
At long last, it seems a solid stadium project has surfaced. Maybe even two.
St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke is behind a project in Inglewood, California, while the Raiders and Chargers are backing one in Carson. Last month, Goodell said both plans looked “viable.”
There won’t be any votes taken on how to proceed in LA at these meetings, but the owners will hear progress reports about St. Louis, Oakland and San Diego. Eric Grubman, one of Goodell’s executive vice presidents, has said these meetings will play a significant role in educating the other teams on all aspects of bringing the NFL back to Los Angeles.
None of the teams can apply for relocation before Jan. 1, but that window that runs through Feb. 15 could be moved up.