NFL owners will convene at league headquarters this week to discuss the future of their sport in Los Angeles, which has been without a franchise for 20 years.
Although the clock is ticking on their goal of returning for the 2016 season, this clearly isn’t the 11th hour in the eyes of the league.
There are no votes on L.A. scheduled for these meetings, and there probably won’t be any votes on the topic at the December meetings in Dallas, either.
Owners are eyeing January as decision time for which site they will choose, Inglewood or Carson, and which one or two of the three teams considering relocation — the San Diego Chargers, Oakland Raiders, and St. Louis Rams — will get the green light to go.
The Inglewood project always has targeted a December groundbreaking in order to be open in time for the 2018 season. The NFL’s timeline calls for a decision to be made after that, so that’s a noteworthy conflict.
Rams owner Stan Kroenke is backing the Inglewood plan. Chargers owner Dean Spanos and Raiders owner Mark Davis have teamed for a competing proposal in Carson.
What the NFL doesn’t want is for this process to come down to a vote that pits the two projects, which would mean that one or two of the owners would emerge from that room as a loser and have to return to a market he has tried to leave.
The league is looking for a managed outcome, probably a grand bargain among the teams involved, and then to put that solution to a vote that would garner support from at least the requisite 24 of 32 owners.
There is a possibility the league could push the pause button on the process — an outcome people in L.A. know well — but both NFL executives and owners on the six-member Committee on Los Angeles Opportunities say it is more likely that they are going to move forward and finally make a decision on relocation.
The main meeting will take place Wednesday at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, though there will be various committee meetings Tuesday at NFL headquarters, two blocks up Park Avenue. Meeting Tuesday are the Super Bowl, NFL Foundation, L.A., and Health and Safety committees.
The primary focus of the Wednesday meeting will be L.A., but there will be discussions and action taken on expanding the series of international games beyond London — possibly including one in Mexico City — and an update by the Competition Committee on the state of the game.
The Wednesday meeting will be divided into morning and afternoon sessions. In the morning session, NFL staff will give a series of presentations on progress (or lack thereof) on possible stadium deals in San Diego, St. Louis and Oakland. There probably will be talk of temporary stadiums in the L.A. market.
The afternoon session will be discussion by a smaller group composed of only team owners, with the theory being they will feel more comfortable expressing their thoughts and opinions in that intimate setting. The format was similar at the August meetings in Chicago, though at those the three owners involved were excused from the room. Wednesday, they will be allowed in the room for at least part of the discussion.
There is concern among at least some members of the L.A. Committee that the three owners considering relocation are currently spending a lot of money to fund a small army of architects, designers and engineers. This meeting will be a reminder that, despite all the money a particular owner is spending, there’s no guarantee he will get the thumbs up to relocate.
Also, there are owners who come down on both sides of the argument about the wisdom of putting two teams in the L.A. market simultaneously. No other league has done that in any market, and there are significant risks and challenges involved.
Ryan Mallett has retained his spot as Houston’s starting quarterback for now, despite his lackluster performance in the Texans’ 48-21 loss to Atlanta on Sunday. Coach Bill O’Brien had replaced Mallett with Brian Hoyer after his team fell behind, 42-0, and after the game the coach said he needed to watch film to decide on a starting quarterback for Week 5.
Because the Texans play host to Indianapolis on Thursday, O’Brien ultimately reasoned the time frame was too compressed to make a quarterback change.
With a longer distance for extra-point attempts, the gimmes are over in the NFL. And there were several missed field-goal attempts in critical situations Sunday. But for the season, the percentage of made kicks is on pace with what we’ve seen in the last three seasons.
Through Sunday’s game, kickers had made 198 of 237 attempts (83.5%). At the same point last season, kickers had made 200 of 236 (84.7%), and in 2013, 201 of 243 (82.7%).
So although the misses might feel like a trend, they aren’t.