PHOENIX — Philip Anschutz says he's ready to talk to the NFL about a stadium in downtown Los Angeles. The NFL says it's ready to talk to Anschutz.
Question is, will all that talking amount to anything real?
"I think it is a positive that Phil Anschutz is reengaging," Commissioner Roger Goodell said on the first day of the annual NFL owners meetings. "He seems that he would like to get a stadium built in Los Angeles that would be suitable for an NFL team. We look forward to working on that. As you know because of the sales process, that's probably crippled any discussions for several months, but we look forward to reengaging with them and see if we can get something done."
Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots and Anschutz's friend from Major League Soccer, said he recently toured the downtown site and is encouraged about the possibilities in L.A.
"I've been his partner for 17 years in a business arrangement," Kraft said. "He always does things first class, and I hope we can be smart enough to find a way to see if there's something we can do together. … I think it's a great site, right in the heart of everything, but it's not the only site."
Asked whether the league considers Chavez Ravine a viable site, Goodell said: "We do think it is a viable site. There are several viable sites in Los Angeles. All of them are on the table for us. We want to get back to Los Angeles, but we are going to look at every alternative we have to do that successfully."
One of the many perks of winning the Super Bowl is the champions get to play host to the Kickoff Opener the following season.
That's a problem for the Baltimore Ravens, however, because the Orioles have a home game on Thursday, Sept. 5, when the NFL wants to open the season. The Ravens and Orioles share parking and have been unable to work out a compromise with moving either game. The NFL won't move the opener to Wednesday — as it did last season — because it's the first day of Rosh Hashanah.
Goodell said he has talked to MLB Commissioner Bud Selig twice about moving the Orioles game earlier in the afternoon, leading into a Ravens night game.
"We think that is the right thing," Goodell said. "We have agreed to move the game a little bit later in the evening to try to accommodate the baseball game.
"We think it will be a great day. As a kid who grew up as an Orioles fan, to have the Orioles game in the afternoon and then go to the Ravens' Super Bowl championship celebration for the Kickoff Game will be a great day. We hope that is the way it will happen."
The one that got away
Kraft said one of the biggest disappointments in his tenure as Patriots owner was the decision of Pro Bowl receiver Wes Welker to sign a free-agent deal with Denver.
Kraft said Welker turned down a more lucrative offer to stay with New England, a two-year deal that would have paid him $8 million in the first season, for a two-year deal with the Broncos that pays him $6 million in the first year.
"I'm just really sad about that," Kraft said. "Everyone in our organization, including our head coach … I sat in a number of meetings, we discussed this very carefully. Just to clear up any misconception, we wanted Wes back."