During a limited round of media interviews conducted Thursday night, Walt Disney Company Chairman and CEO Bob Iger said that he first became involved in the effort to build a Carson stadium that would be shared by the Chargers and Raiders at the invitation of Panthers owner Jerry Richardson.
“He asked whether I’d be interested in helping very specifically the partnership of the Raiders and Chargers move to L.A., develop a stadium, reposition themselves here,” Iger said, via Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times. “I engaged in conversations with Jerry, and then with both entities.”
That has prompted some to question the impartiality of Richardson, who serves on the league’s Committee on L.A. Opportunities. But here’s the thing: It’s inaccurate to assume that the members of the Committee are or ever were or ever should be impartial.
It’s not the way committees work. Committee members don’t serve as a judge or a jury, waiting for all evidence before making final decisions. As one source with knowledge of the process told PFT on Saturday, the committee members were supposed to be proactive, rendering business judgment and acumen to explore the possibilities, and rolling up their sleeves and working on coming up with the best outcome — regardless of whether they believed going in what the best outcome could or should be.
The committee members do the actual work, searching for possible solutions and refining the options so that when their business judgment is submitted to the full ownership in the form of a recommendation, the other owners will believe that an exhaustive effort has been made.
Richardson, per the source, entered the process with strong feeling about Los Angeles. He has been opposed from the outset to the idea of bringing a fourth team to California when two of the three teams already in that state occupy two of the worst stadiums in the league. Commissioner Roger Goodell, who made the committee appointments, knew Richardson’s point of view, which was driven not by any specific agenda for Richardson’s franchise but with an eye toward what is best for the NFL as a whole.
Also, it wasn’t Richardson’s idea to reach out to Iger, and Richardson had no involvement in recruiting Iger beyond the initial meeting. Iger thereafter worked directly with the Carson project and the Raiders and Chargers. As one source explained it to PFT, Richardson didn’t even know that Iger would become an official participant in the Carson effort until a day or two before the announcement was made.
Regardless, every NFL owner now knows that Richardson supports the Carson project. Many (if not all) have known that Richardson has supported the Carson project for a while; Richardson publicly declared his support more than a month ago.
It doesn’t undermine the process, and it’s not surprising that folks who support the Rams moving to Inglewood would throw stones at any dynamic that undermines the competing project — especially at a time when it feels like the competing project is winning.