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L.A. deal likely to happen in January

Robert Kraft


As explained on Saturday, most NFL owners remain in wait-and-see mode on a Los Angeles solution. Come January 12 and 13, the time for waiting and seeing will end.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, it’s believed that the special ownership meeting aimed at resolving the L.A. situation will indeed result in a solution. It is expected to happen primarily because the league office and most owners understand the importance of bringing this process to a close.

For an industry in which deadlines spur action, there’s no true deadline for returning to Los Angeles, as the last 20 years have shown. But with the Chargers, Rams, and Raiders all openly jockeying for position -- and with all three teams expected to apply for permission to relocate on January 4 -- the league realizes that the time is now to end this.

The league specifically realizes that ongoing limbo won’t be good in the three cities where the Chargers, Rams, and Raiders currently play. If the process doesn’t end in January (and in turn gets kicked to 2017), those markets could degrade, making it hard for the team(s) that don’t move to get thrive moving forward.

Also, the league seems to understand that fans of every team in every city are growing fatigued by the process. With L.A. shifting from luxury to necessity in recent months, there are many reasons to get this done.

So whatever the outcome, be far more surprised if one doesn’t happen by January 13 than if one does. Getting everyone in the same room with a good-faith desire to find a solution sets the stage for doing so.

The best comparison comes from the world of civil litigation, where nearly every lawsuit at some point goes through a mediation process. While it’s non-binding and the parties aren’t required to settle their differences, getting everyone in the same room with the same objective of resolving the case tends to create the right atmosphere for making that happen.

For the owners, the specter of litigation will apply to one or more of the various possible outcomes. And that surely will be a factor in the final decision-making process. Either way, the league and most owners realize that the time is coming to stop thinking and talking and to start finding a way to get 24 owners to get behind one specific conclusion to the process.

It ultimately may require Commissioner Roger Goodell and/or de facto L.A. committee chairman Panthers owner Jerry Richardson to declare that no one is leaving until 24 votes are cast in favor of one specific outcome. And that ultimately could happen.