SAN FRANCISCO — What is on the agenda at the NFL owners meetings the next two days?
Depends on whose agenda we’re talking about.
For the Patriots and Robert Kraft, the primary focus will entail confronting commissioner Roger Goodell for the first time since Goodell’s office handed down some of the harshest penalties in NFL history in relation to Deflategate.
Kraft will want to know why Tom Brady was suspended for four games, and the Patriots docked a first-round pick, a fourth-round pick and $1 million when his lawyers made a compelling case that the Patriots didn’t have a ball deflation issue during halftime of the AFC Championship game, and that the team offered full cooperation in Ted Wells’s investigation, despite the NFL concluding to the contrary.
Kraft also will try to figure out the Patriots’ next step. The team hasn’t decided if it will appeal Goodell’s penalties — the deadline is Thursday — but an appeal could give Kraft more time to negotiate a compromise with Goodell to reduce the penalties.
Kraft also has to decide if he will take a confrontational or conciliatory approach with Goodell, who used to count Kraft among his top allies. Based on comments Kraft made to Sports Illustrated on Monday, it’s pretty clear which tactic he will take.
When asked to describe his relationship with Goodell, Kraft answered, “You’ll have to ask him.”
But while Deflategate will be the primary topic of concern for the Patriots, the rest of the league has plenty of other important business to attend to the next two days at the Ritz Carlton San Francisco.
The owners will vote on two proposals that were delayed from the last round of owners meetings in March — changing the extra point and the Patriots’ proposal to add more cameras on the sidelines for instant replay purposes.
The owners will consider three different proposals to change the extra point, all of which entail moving the extra point to the 15-yard line, making it a 33-yard kick. The Patriots’ proposal would keep the line of scrimmage at the 2 for a 2-point conversion, the Eagles’ proposal would move the line of scrimmage to the 1 to encourage teams to go for 2 more often, and the NFL competition committee’s proposal has the line of scrimmage at the 1½-yard line. The Eagles’ and the NFL’s proposals also entail allowing the defense to score 2 points for returning an interception or fumble for a score.
The owners also will review the Patriots’ camera proposal after tabling the issue in March to explore the costs and configuration issues with adding more cameras to the sidelines, end lines, and goal lines.
The future of the NFL in Los Angeles also will be a major topic. Three teams are angling for the Los Angeles market – the Rams, Chargers and Raiders – and the NFL appears intent on having at least one team in LA in 2016.
City and state leaders in St. Louis are working feverishly to create a workable stadium plan to keep the Rams in town, and on Monday, San Diego city leaders revealed plans for a $1.1 billion stadium that would include financing of $120 million from taxpayers, $200 million from the NFL, $300 million from the Chargers, and more than $475 million in rent payments from the team over 30 years, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Rams owner Stan Kroenke appears intent on being in the LA market, and his stadium plan on land he owns in Hollywood Park is the most viable plan for an NFL stadium in that market. The Chargers and Raiders also have unveiled plans for a joint stadium in the suburb of Carson.
The latest theory gaining traction, as explained by St. Louis Stadium Task Force co-leader Dave Peacock to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, is for Kroenke to swap teams — he would sell the Rams to a new owner who would keep them in St. Louis, buy the Raiders from owner Mark Davis, and move the Raiders to Los Angeles. The Chargers could then decide if they want to join the Raiders in Los Angeles or stay in San Diego.
“I’m not against Stan going to Los Angeles,” Peacock told the Post-Dispatch. “I just don’t want our team there. This is why we’re spending most of our time with the league — we think this is an NFL issue.”
Also at the meetings, the NFL will narrow the list of finalists for the 2019 and 2020 Super Bowls, which will be voted upon next year. Atlanta, which has a new $1.4 billion stadium set to open in 2017, and Miami, spending $350 million on improvements to Sun Life Stadium, are the early favorites. Indianapolis and Dallas also are expected to enter the bidding.