SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — NFL owners concluded an especially hectic spring meetings by setting up what figures to be a very busy summer and fall.
Los Angeles was the main topic, along with deflated footballs, future Super Bowls, altered extra points and international games.
Here’s what happened and what it all means:
LA, HERE WE COME: Sure looks that way, maybe as early as 2016.
The bigger questions might be how many teams will wind up there, and in which of two stadiums whose plans are moving along in unprecedented fashion.
“We’re significantly farther than we have been on any relocation in the recent past,” Commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday.
Added Colts owner Jim Irsay: “One thing for certain is there’s going to be an NFL team in Los Angeles in the next couple of years.”
The Rams, Chargers and Raiders are the headliners in this Hollywood script. Team owners will approve a franchise’s move to Los Angeles by the end of the year, according to NFL vice president Eric Grubman, the league’s lead man on a possible return to LA. The window for such applications that now begins Jan. 1 could be moved “to very late in the (upcoming) regular season.” The 32 owners could vote on a team’s relocation “some weeks after that.”
Grubman said there have been discussions on moving one or two teams if no acceptable stadium projects come together in the current markets. San Diego and Oakland have teamed up on one project, in Carson, California. The Rams’ project is in Inglewood.
Any team winding up in the Los Angeles area next year would play in an existing stadium until a new one is built: the Rose Bowl, LA Coliseum, Dodger Stadium or in Anaheim, where the Rams played before leaving for St. Louis in 1995, the same year the Raiders headed back to Oakland.
The NFL also said if a stadium is built by 2018, Los Angeles would be a candidate to host the 2020 Super Bowl, which some consider a slam dunk. Tampa, New Orleans, Atlanta and South Florida already are contenders for the games of 2019 and 2020.
Look for a special owners meeting in August should there be enough progress in Southern California — or even by St. Louis, Oakland and San Diego toward retaining their teams.
LETTING THE AIR OUT: While Patriots owner Robert Kraft attempted to end the “rhetoric” by not challenging the team’s punishment in the deflated footballs scandal — a $1 million fine, loss of a first-round (2016) and fourth-round (2017) draft choice — the topic isn’t going away anytime soon.
Goodell indicated on Wednesday he has every intention of hearing Tom Brady’s appeal of his four-game suspension for his role in “Deflategate.” The players’ union, which filed the appeal on behalf of the star quarterback, has asked Goodell to recuse himself because, the NFLPA says, he is not impartial and also will be called as a witness.
That session is expected to take place within the next week.
“It’s my job here to make sure we’re doing everything to protect the integrity of the game, protect our policies, protect our procedures,” Goodell said. “We have a process that has been negotiated with the union that has been in place for decades. It’s my responsibility and it’s something that we’ve had in place for a long time.”
When NFL executive vice president Troy Vincent suspended Brady, he cited Brady’s lack of cooperation in refusing to turn over his cellphone records as one of the reasons for the hefty punishment.
Goodell said he is open to seeing those records during the appeal and that could play a role in a possible reduction of the suspension for Brady’s role in the use of underinflated footballs in the AFC championship game against the Colts.
“I look forward to hearing directly from Tom if there’s new information or information that can be helpful to us in getting this right,” Goodell said. “I want to hear directly from Tom in that.”
KICK IT FROM WHERE? That would be the 32- or 33-yard line after the owners approved a competition committee proposal to snap extra-point kicks from the 15. The conversions simply had become too automatic.
The juicy change will allow the defense to run a blocked kick or turnover on a 2-point try into the end zone for two points of its own.
“This isn’t an experiment,” said Texans general manager Rick Smith, a member of the competition committee. “This is a rule change. We expect this to be a part of the game.”
The hope is more 2-point attempts become a part of the game, as well.
HOLA, OI AND WILLKOMMEN: More international sites could be in the league’s future.
Goodell said there is “renewed interest” in staging a regular-season game in Mexico and possibly Germany. Rio de Janeiro has expressed interest in hosting a Pro Bowl.
The NFL will hold three regular-season games in London this season, the same number as in 2014.
The commissioner cited the “passion for our game and taking it to another level” for the league pursuing more international matches.
AP Sports Writer Josh Dubow contributed to this story.
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