As the game of musical chairs winds closer to the point at which the music stops, some owners will be trying to guide certain teams toward, or away from, the available seats.
Per multiple sources, a group of influential owners strongly opposes the relocation of the Rams to Los Angeles. That group includes Panthers owner Jerry Richardson, who is emerging as a leader of the NFL’s L.A. committee.
As one source put it, Richardson and other owners view the Chargers and Raiders as more eligible to move under the league’s relocation policy, especially since it appears that St. Louis has cobbled together a viable plan for building a new stadium and keeping the Rams in the place they’ve been for the last 20 years.
Also, a move by the Chargers, who have tried for more than a decade to build a new stadium in San Diego, is viewed as the least disruptive to existing fan bases.
In response to a request for comment from PFT, Richardson said only that “we have every reason to believe that re-entry of the NFL into the Los Angeles market will be successful.”
As to the potential timing of a vote on a return to L.A., Richardson said, “Additional work needs to be done before we move forward, but we are confident in our process.”
The process includes at least 24 owners approving any move. Recent suggestions that the inability of either the Rams or Chargers to get the necessary votes have been viewed by some as an effort by Kroenke to delay the process for a year, in the hopes that: (1) the current St. Louis proposal will be deemed not viable; (2) San Diego’s effort to keep the Chargers will be regarded as more viable; and (3) Kroenke’s proposed project at Hollywood Park will be viewed as more inevitable.
The effort to keep the Chargers in San Diego soon will continue, according to one source, with a visit by San Diego’s mayor to owners like Richardson, in an effort to persuade him that the Chargers should be required to stay the course in their current hometown.
As of now, it appears that the Chargers definitely have the votes to block the Rams and that the Rams probably have the votes to block the Chargers. Which means that the NFL will be presiding over potentially delicate and highly political discussions at an upcoming meeting in October and again in December. Those politics likely will include Richardson and other owners firmly opposing the effort of Stan Kroenke to move the Rams to L.A.