Last Sunday, Peter King of NBC and SI.com made clear that the NFL is ready to return to Los Angeles, and that once the labor situation is resolved efforts to make that happen will accelerate.
ESPN delved deeply into the story during Sunday’s Outside the Lines.
Commissioner Roger Goodell made clear the league’s belief that the NFL can’t return to L.A. without an acceptable stadium.
NFL V.P. of ventures and business operations Eric Grubman made clear the league’s belief that the team to play in an acceptable stadium will be an existing franchise. “Los Angeles is among our top goals, and there has to be a franchise,” Grubman said. “We’re not in an expansion mood so that means you’d have to attract a franchise from another market.”
Grubman and the league wouldn’t talk about teams that could relocate. ESPN identified the seven franchises most often linked to the vacancy in L.A.: the Jaguars, Bills, Vikings, Rams, 49ers, Raiders, and Chargers.
“There’s a number of teams that are challenged right now,” said Ed Roski, who wants to build a stadium in the City of Industry, and who wants to own a chunk of the team that makes the move.
Tim Leiweke of AEG, which is proposing a stadium in downtown L.A., said that his group is willing to defer to the NFL when it comes to picking the team that would move to L.A.
In a discussion after the main segment aired, Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times said that the league prefers the downtown option, which becomes even more viable now that the Coliseum is out of the question.
Chris Mortensen of ESPN said that the Chargers and Rams are the most interesting options to move, that the Jaguars most likely won’t be moving to L.A., that the Vikings are more interested in staying in Minnesota with a new stadium, and that the Bills situation is “interesting” given the advanced age of owner Ralph Wilson and the lack of a clear plan for the franchise after the nonagenarian is called up to the great gridiron in the sky.
Mort also suggested that, eventually, a second team could be added via expansion, even though the league isn’t currently in the mood to grow beyond 32 teams.
Either way, once the league gets in the mood to do a new labor deal, the L.A. issue will move to the front burner. How long it stays there — and whether it ever reaches a full boil — remains to be seen.