CHICAGO — A few expected orders of business took place Tuesday at the NFL's spring meeting, including the shortening of preseason and regular season overtime from 15 minutes to 10 minutes and the league loosening its disciplinary oversight of touchdown celebrations.
One major development that wasn't expected to be revealed is the moving of Super Bowl LV, originally slated for the new Rams stadium in Inglewood following the 2021 season, to Tampa Bay's Raymond James Stadium — the original runner-up bid for the game. The news comes on the heels of the announcement that the stadium project, initially slated for completion in 2019, has been delayed by a year due to torrential rain this winter.
NFL rules state that a facility must be open for two years prior to hosting the Super Bowl. Though the league could've made an exception to ensure its return to Los Angeles coincides with hosting the game, it instead chose Tampa Bay, host of four previous Super Bowls, most recently XLIII, following the 2009 season.
"This has been a discussion, as [Rams owner] Stan [Kroenke] has obviously communicated with us, and me in particular, the challenges he's had over the past several months with respect to the weather and the construction schedule," said Goodell. "I was aware at least there was a potential risk here and I had a conversation with some of our owners. The bottom line is Stan was incredibly cooperative on this; he wants to do what's right for the NFL. His No. 1 objective is creating a quality stadium for the long-term for the fans of Los Angeles and his commitment has not wavered on that.
"What we felt was the right thing was, don't put any risk to the Super Bowl, which is an incredibly complex event. God forbid, if some kind of other natural disaster, or some other thing that might affect the schedule which he doesn't obviously anticipate — he's comfortable with the time frame. It would put an undue risk to the Super Bowl and our fans. From our standpoint, this was the right thing to do. We are fortunate that Tampa had a very competitive presentation when they bid on the Super Bowl earlier. So this was a solution that we voted on very quickly."
Here are a few of the other noteworthy approved proposals from the spring league meeting:
· After the Stadium Authority Board unanimously approved the Raiders' Las Vegas lease agreement last week, the owners on Tuesday did the same. Roger Goodell was asked about the role of live gambling by fans during games.
"That’s not something we’ve addressed at this point, but I said before I think the Raiders playing in Las Vegas, there will be policies we’re going to evaluate," Goodell said. "We’ll look at what we can do differently, but also intelligently. We want to protect the integrity of the game and make sure that that is the most important thing at all times. So we will look at all these things over the next several years."
Goodell also reiterated the league's stance that it did everything possible to keep the Raiders in Oakland and avoid relocation.
"It was something we wanted to accomplish, as you know. In addition to all of the efforts, ownership put $300 million to a stadium solution in Oakland and we still couldn't get there," he said. "We were all disappointed with that outcome. We're also very excited about what Las Vegas offers. We know we have doubters, second-guessers in anything we do, and that motivates us to make it right."
Added Goodell on the potential of Vegas as a viable NFL city: "We're excited about Las Vegas because of the city that is it and the city that is has intentions to become. It's a diverse city, it's the fastest growing city in the country. I think it is an entertainment/hospitality market place that in some ways is unmatched in the country. So that is something that excites us very much. Our job now will be to build a great stadium and to do whats necessary to make the Raiders successful there."
· On the free-agent limbo of quarterback Colin Kaepernick, Goodell said, "Each team makes individual decisions on how they can improve their team. If they see an opportunity to improve their team, I think they do it. They evaluate players, they evaluate systems and coaches. They all make those individual decisions to try and improve their team."
Goodell says he's open to chatting with Kaepernick, but they haven't had a conversation since Kaepernick's controversial national anthem protests first occurred last year. "I wouldn't be opposed to speaking to him, but I haven't. It's certainly something I could do, but it's not something I've thought about.
· The NFL voted to allow a second player to come off the injured reserve list. In 2012, the league first allowed one player to return from injured reserve.
· There will no longer be a cut down from 90 to 75 players in the preseason. Now, NFL clubs will be allowed to carry 90 guys on their roster for the final preseason game, after which the lone cut down, to 53 players, will occur.