While much of the NFL world has been obsessed with deflated footballs, backers of competing Los Angeles-area stadium proposals are focused on moving the ball forward.
The league undoubtedly will address both topics this week at the annual May meetings.
Team owners will arrive at a downtown San Francisco hotel Tuesday evening, and are expected to wrap up their talks by midday Wednesday. Media interest will be particularly high in regard to the New England Patriots situation, a week after NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended quarterback Tom Brady for four games, fined the franchise $1 million, and stripped it of two draft picks — a first-rounder next year and a fourth-rounder in 2017 — over allegations that two team staffers deflated footballs to make them easier to grip in January's AFC championship game.
Owners are expected to vote on potential changes to the extra-point rules, and will hear about cities vying to play host to future Super Bowls.
The ongoing L.A. soap opera will be in the spotlight, too. There are no votes scheduled on the competing proposals in Inglewood and Carson, and there will be no presentations from those cities or other outside groups.
The ownership will hear from St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke, backing the Inglewood project, and representatives of the Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers, who are jointly proposing the Carson stadium. Those stadium sponsors will not make presentations of their projects to the membership, but will make brief comments about what they see happening in their home markets. League staff will also give a progress report that addresses the home market situations in St. Louis, Oakland and San Diego.
"This is an important meeting," said NFL Executive Vice President Eric Grubman, who is overseeing the L.A. process. "We've made a tremendous amount of progress, and we really need to lift the veil on the key process steps, so that membership can go into the summer comfortable with where this might be headed."
Perhaps most important to the membership, the league will give better insight to the timing of a stadium decision, possibly including compressing and moving up the window for relocation applications in order to give a potential relocating team more time to do so. The current application window is Jan. 1 through Feb. 15, although that's likely to be moved to December or perhaps even earlier. It's not inconceivable that the league could add more owners meetings to the schedule, maybe one this summer.
There are three PAT proposals under consideration. One involves moving the line of scrimmage for the extra-point kick to the 15-yard line to make more challenging what is now a gimme. Another makes the same proposal on kicks, but adds the wrinkle that the defense can return a turnover for two points. And a third incorporates a kick from the 15, two points for a successful return by the defense, and moving the line of scrimmage for a two-point conversion up a yard to the one-yard line, making that option more enticing.
The next three Super Bowls will take place in Santa Clara, Houston and Minneapolis. The league recently asked teams if their cities had an interest in submitting bids to host a Super Bowl in the next block of available years (2019-2023). Those expressions of interest were submitted May 1, and will be officially revealed to owners at these meetings.