The Sports Xchange, Published March 26 2014
NFL commissioner: Nothing imminent in L.A., but playoff expansion gains interestCommissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday there is no opportunity on the immediate horizon for an NFL franchise in Los Angeles.
"We want to be back in Los Angeles," Goodell said. "But we don't have any solid proposal or plan yet."
Stalled progress on potential stadium plans limit the optimism for placing a team in the region in the near future. Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis hinted Los Angeles could be an option -- again -- for the Raiders if they cannot find a feasible solution in the Bay Area for their own antiquated stadium. There are other franchises, including the St. Louis Rams, with simmering stadium or lease issues that could use Los Angeles as leverage.
That is what Goodell would like to avoid.
"It must be a success, and it must be done right," said Goodell. "If we have the right opportunity to be back, we would love to do that."
Founder and owner Ralph Wilson's death Tuesday elevated ever-present consternation in Buffalo that the Bills might be that team. Goodell said he understands why fans would be unsettled about the situation. The team was placed in a short-term trust and the lease agreement -- which includes a buyout of about 80 percent of the total value of the team at $400 million -- will keep the Bills in Orchard Park for at least five more years.
"They have a lease," Goodell said. "But we have to find a long-term solution."
In the next few years, the Bills will be sold, but the league believes the lease will help anchor the team to the region and many owners could push for sentimental reasons to keep Wilson's plan in place.
Goodell would likely be among the roadblocks. He grew up in the area as a Bills fan and his career in football began with the franchise.
PLAYOFFS PLUS ONE?
Goodell said no votes were cast on expanding the playoffs but he sensed positive response to adding two or more teams to the postseason.
"I think there's a tremendous amount of interest in this possibly to the point of support," Goodell said. "We still want to do some additional work including a meeting with the Players Association."
As for when the expansion might occur, Goodell he "wouldn't rule out" changes for the 2014 season.
"It's not out of the question," he said.