Column: NFL’s choice for draft does not bode well for a team’s return to L.A.

Johnny Manziel, Roger Goodell
Former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel poses with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected by the Cleveland Browns in the NFL draft.
(Elsa Garrison / Getty Images)

Some people have speculated the NFL is on the brink of moving back to Los Angeles.

Thursday, that theory was tackled for a big loss.

Putting an end to a months-long bid process for the NFL draft, the league chose Chicago over L.A. to play host in 2015, the first time since 1965 the league’s marquee off-season event will take place outside of New York.

Chicago made an impressive bid, and it has an NFL team, something L.A. hasn’t been able to say since 1994.


However, if the NFL were confident a team was absolutely determined to relocate to L.A. after this season — (cough) Rams (cough) — the league surely would have awarded the 2015 draft to the nation’s second-largest market.

An L.A. draft would have been a quintessential drum roll for a team’s return, timing so brilliant it would have been a hello that rivaled Derek Jeter’s goodbye. But no.

There has been a lot of speculation lately the Rams are ready to leave St. Louis and have quietly packed the moving vans. The fact Rams owner Stan Kroenke has 60 acres of potential stadium land in Inglewood has only fueled that talk.

L.A. getting the Heisman stiff-arm should quiet that chatter a bit. After all, there’s no “done deal” for any relocation until 24 owners vote in favor of one.


Like the Rams, the Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers are on year-to-year stadium leases and are unhappy with their current venues. So all three are in the relocation mix.

The unmistakable message from the NFL?

Not. So. Fast.

That’s not to say there won’t be an NFL team in L.A. next season. It could still happen. The league insists it wants to come back, and — at least before all the Ray Rice tumult — L.A. was a front-burner issue, with TV and labor deals stretching into the immediate horizon. Goodell put a top executive, Eric Grubman, on the L.A. case, a sign the NFL is serious about it.

AEG announced this week it’s asking for a six-month extension of the Farmers Field agreement, which is set to expire later this month. The company wants a little more time to see whether it can work out a deal with the NFL.

At minimum, this draft news was a setback in that regard. After all, the April 30-May 2 draft was supposed to take place at L.A. Live’s Nokia Theatre, the centerpiece of AEG’s downtown complex.

So the league has agreed to a one-year deal to hold the draft in the heartland. That means all those leather-lunged New York Jets fans will have to head 800 miles east to boo their team’s choice.

As for L.A.'s jets? Substantially cooled.


Down, set ... what?

No matter what the formation, down and distance, or audible, every football play from scrimmage starts the same way — with a snap.

For a lot of NFL teams this season, that basic beginning has been a hold-your-breath moment.

The San Diego Chargers, who have cycled through three centers in four games, had a botched snap in their opener and two more last Sunday.

In London last Sunday, Oakland’s Stefen Wisniewski sailed a shotgun snap past Matt McGloin, and the Raiders quarterback had no chance to catch Cortland Finnegan as the Miami cornerback scooped up the ball and returned it 50 yards for a touchdown.

Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers was trying to call a timeout at Seattle in the Kickoff Opener. As he turned to signal, a shotgun snap plunked him in the chest. To the relief of a frustrated Rodgers — and to that of rookie center Corey Linsley — officials awarded the Packers with a timeout.

There was no such saving grace for St. Louis in a Week 3 game against Dallas. Just before halftime, with the Rams driving into Cowboys territory and hoping to build on a 21-7 lead, St. Louis center Scott Wells lost his grip while snapping on third-and-one. The ball came loose, the Cowboys recovered, and momentum swung the other way. Dallas turned that into a field goal, and eventually wound up winning, 34-31.

Bad snaps are part of football. They happen every year. But they have been especially glaring in the first four weeks of this season, and some experts see it as a problem that points back to the practice limitations of the collective bargaining agreement.


“The thing is, guys are spending so much more time in the ‘gun, even in practice, so guys don’t work on the quarterback being under center as much,” retired quarterback Rich Gannon said. “They don’t put the pads on in practice, so they’re not getting live snaps from center. The only time you really do it is when you get in a game, and then all of a sudden you’ve got a problem.

“They don’t practice in spring anymore. In training camp, they can only have a walk-through in the morning and stuff like that. You wonder why there’s so much sloppy football at this point in the season.”

The Chargers are on their third center, Doug Legursky, who spent his first five years in Pittsburgh and last season in Buffalo. He was signed after Pro Bowl center Nick Hardwick suffered a season-ending neck injury in the opener. Rich Ohrnberger stepped in for Hardwick, but was sidelined by a bad back after starting the next two games.

In last Sunday’s victory over Jacksonville — the Chargers’ third win in a row — Legursky had a couple of bad snaps that weren’t extremely costly to San Diego but could have been.

“If you don’t get the snap right, the play’s dead from the start,” Legursky said this week. “Once you get into a rhythm, it just happens naturally to where you don’t even think about it. Just coming to a new team here, trying to figure out the cadence, rhythm, how they like the snaps, as opposed to other quarterbacks I’ve worked with. Just takes a little time to iron it out.”

Twitter: @LATimesfarmer

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