No playoffs for the Oakland Raiders means full-tilt stadium talk until the NFL owners meetings on Jan. 12-13. As usual, rather than covering every little rumor and innuendo that is floated on Twitter, I am taking a global approach and only looking at what I consider to be the significant factors involved.
So, what are those factors? It’s really fairly simple, there are 32 of them: The owners of each NFL team.
I’ve been fairly open with my opinion that far and away the majority of news we read on the stadium topic is nothing more than a set of smokescreens combined with the dog and pony show being put on by the NFL.
The town hall meetings were a joke and did nothing more than twist the knife the NFL stuck in the backs of fans when this all started. Rather than getting thoroughly involved early on, the NFL allowed the three teams to hang in the wind, publicly bickering with each other, the media and their current host towns. The NFL failed to lead on this issue and that’s because the NFL is not one entity as many commonly view it. Though Roger Goodell is the commissioner and face of the league, in reality the NFL is 32 different and unique owners.
When you take away the three teams vying for Los Angeles, you’re left with 29 owners who will decide the Los Angeles question. Think about that for a moment — 29 owners with 29 motives, 29 points of view that lead to 29 opinions and 29 strategies on how to work this situation to favor their clubs, and, more importantly, their bank accounts.
The elephant in the room that is not being thoroughly discussed is the fact that this is nothing more than politics. The idea that the recently submitted (or not submitted) stadium plans will impact the outcome is a rather, well … optimistic view of the NFL owners.
I think it would be great if the NFL rewarded the city who has done the most to keep their team, which in this case would be St. Louis. I also think it would be great if the NFL rewarded the fan base that has done the most to keep its team: in my humble and quite possibly biased opinion, Oakland Raiders fans.
However, I’m far too much of a realist to think that owners of multimillion dollar corporations are going to make decisions that could seriously impact their companies based on fanciful ideas of rewarding fans or cities. I fully believe that the town halls were conducted and stadium proposals were collected so the NFL could point to something when the decision is made.
But that doesn’t mean they’ll actually impact the decision. It just makes for a good soundbite to say “The City of St. Louis really worked hard to keep the Rams and they deserve this” or “The Oakland fan base showed they are truly dedicated to this team and have earned the right to keep the Raiders” or “San Diego …” well, I think we can all pretty much agree the Chargers will likely be in Los Angeles next season, so let’s just move on.
Ok, you ready to be disappointed? Here we go:
I predict that there is a bargained deal between the three teams and the NFL, orchestrated by the other owners in order to avoid a potentially disastrous vote.
Don’t ask me what the deal will be, I have no clue.
What I do know is that Stan Kroenke, owner of the Rams, reportedly told the mayor of Inglewood that he would move there with or without the approval of the NFL, setting up a nightmare situation for the owners. It would be the rebirth of Al Davis, in a sense. Who knows if Kroenke would actually go through with it, but it’s pretty clear he wants the other owners to think he would.
Lawsuits, bad press and a distraction from the product that makes them money is not what the owners want out of the Los Angeles situation — that much I think we do know. The worst possible scenario would be a repeat of when the Raiders sued for the right to move to Los Angeles. Again, I think it’s fair to assume that’s something which which most of the owners would agree. I say most because you never know; there may be a team or two (Jacksonville?) with an eye on moving who would like to do so without jumping through the hoops of an NFL vote.
And that, is pretty much the moral of the story. This thing isn’t about the fans or the home towns, it’s about the internal politics of a 32-body representative “government” that protects the interests of the 32 member corporations.