Spander: These NFL meetings will be anything but ordinary 

click to enlarge Roger Goodell and Robert Kraft
  • Brandon Wade/2014 AP File Photo
  • The relationship between NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, left, and Patriots owner Robert Kraft has soured since New England's punishment for the Deflategate scandle was annouced.

So the big boys from the NFL — the owners, not the players — come to The City by the Bay seeking peace and a new extra-point rule. Of course. Isn’t this the cool, gray city of love? Wasn’t the United Nations Charter signed in a hotel on Nob Hill?

Didn’t there used to be a pro football team playing in San Francisco?

There’s a plaque on the wall of the Fairmont Hotel, where 50 countries put aside their differences to find unity and create the UN. Maybe there will be another down Stockton Street at the Ritz-Carlton this week.

It could read, “On this spot, Roger Goodell and Robert Kraft Deflated Deflategate.”

But we move too quickly. Which is unlike the NFL, whose spring meetings run through Wednesday in very spring-like San Francisco weather, gloom and chill — which seems quite appropriate, those old buddies, Goodell and Kraft, about as far apart as the Raiders and a new stadium in Oakland, yet another issue for the league.

These are the annual May meetings, normally a session to clean up minor issues. This time, however, there’s a major issue: the New England Patriots losing their quarterback, Mr. Tom Brady of the San Mateo Bradys, for four games the coming season because of his implied acceptance of a football that was minimally under-inflated.

Kraft, owner of the Patriots — did we mention (a) they won the Super Bowl and (b) he and Goodell, the commish, were pals until air pressure gauges came between them? — told Peter King of the Monday Morning Quarterback website that he is angry the way his team has been treated.

“I just get worked really worked up,” Kraft said. “To receive the harshest penalty in league history is just not fair. The anger and frustration with this process, to me, it wasn’t fair. If we’re giving all the power to the NFL and the office of the commissioner, this is something that can happen to all 32 teams.”

It’s only happened to one — and because the man who is in control of that team, Kraft, sits on various league committees, including one that decides the TV broadcasts, some people are stunned. Mostly Kraft. The other items on the agenda are no less critical, or interesting.

There very well could be a vote to change the way conversions after touchdowns are set up. For the longest while, the ball has been placed at the 2-yard line and some guy who never misses kicks it between the uprights and over the crossbar for a point. Or, when the coach is more daring, a running or passing play is utilized, and if successful, worth two points.

One new possibility has the ball placed at the 15-yard line for a kick or kept at the 2 1/2 for a run-pass attempt. Or the same, but with an option for the defense allowed to return a turnover for two points. Or the ball being placed at the 15, trying to encourage teams going for two points at the 1-yard line. That might become known as the Tebow Rule one day, the Philadelphia Eagles seemingly wanting Tim to carry the ball in those situations.

In 1974, the goal posts were moved from the goal line to the back of the end zone, and in 1994, the two-point conversion option was added. Otherwise, there haven’t been significant changes in the NFL score-keeping methods for decades.

There have been changes in team locations, although none since 1997, when the Houston Oilers shifted to Tennessee and morphed into the Titans. Now everyone wants to head off to Los Angeles, a city bereft of pro football since 1995. That’s when the Raiders returned to Oakland — and talk started that they would re-return to L.A. Now it’s the Rams probably returning to L.A., with the Raiders going with them.

Monday, a proposed stadium in the L.A. suburb of Carson, to be financed privately by the Raiders and San Diego Chargers, made news with the hiring of Carmen Policy as overseer of the project. Yes, the Carmen Policy who used to help run the 49ers in the Eddie DeBartolo days, trying to run the Raiders out of the Bay Area.

Having grown up down there, watching Bob Waterfield and Crazy Legs Hirsch, I’ve never felt comfortable saying “St. Louis Rams.” Current team owner Stan Kroenke must not, either. He is determined to build a stadium in Inglewood, near the L.A. airport, while the Raiders and Chargers are captivated by their dream down the 405 freeway.

All this is being discussed or debated up on Nob Hill. The league also may formulate plans for Super Bowl 50, or is it L? Yes, the game is at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara and the parties will be up El Camino Real in San Francisco. Still to be decided are team practice fields (San Jose State and Stanford most likely) and a location for Media Day (probably the SAP Center, home of the Sharks, but possibly the Oracle, home of the Warriors).

To insure the NFL image is retained, Deflategate most likely will be deflated quickly, Kraft agreeing to a happy solution. After that? A new stadium for the Raiders in Oakland? Just thought I’d ask.

About The Author

Art Spander

Art Spander

Art Spander has been covering Bay Area sports since 1965 and also writes on and Email him at
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