AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. -- The National Football League would
like to have a team back in Los Angeles by 2008, Commissioner Paul
Tagliabue said Tuesday.
Tagliabue said league owners were pushing for a decision on a
stadium site by next spring, giving the NFL the time it needs to
return a franchise to the country's second largest television
market by 2008.
"We're hopeful we can stick to a timeline that would have us
make some decisions on a stadium project maybe a year from now in
May of '05," he said.
The league, which has not had a team in the Los Angeles area
since the Raiders and Rams departed following the '94 season, has been
working with groups representing sites at Carson, the Coliseum and
the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.
"Everyone has been working at this," Tagliabue said. "At some
point decisions need to be made."
League owners have made no decision about expanding to a 33rd
team or moving a troubled franchise to Los Angeles when and if they
come to an agreement on a stadium there.
Indianapolis owner Jim Irsay, who is involved in discussions
with community and state leaders about improvements in the Colts'
situation, said he was confident of working out a new deal to
remain in Indiana.
"This is clearly on the frontburner," he said. "More and more
we're trying to get people behind this thing.
"I'm 44 years old, I'm not signing until I'm 74 years ...
unless I know we have a strong, long-term plan," Irsay said.
The NFL also said it plans to honor the memory of former Arizona
Cardinals defensive back Pat Tillman during the regular season --
perhaps by having all teams display a helmet decal with his uniform
Tillman, who starred at Arizona State and then the Cardinals
before rejecting a multimillion dollar contract to join the Army,
was killed last month in Afghanistan during a firefight with the
enemy. He was 27.
"We previewed some of the initial thinking we have about paying
tribute," Tagliabue said. "The key thing here is to have a proper
balance between respecting what Pat did and what all the other men
and women of the military do."
Owners also heard some preliminary discussions about the
league's preparations for new television agreements and received an
update on Jacksonville's preparations for the 2005 Super Bowl,
scheduled Feb. 6.
Tagliabue said he would detail the Super Bowl preparations
Wednesday. The owners wrap up their spring meeting Thursday.
Former NFL quarterback Jack Kemp briefed owners on the USA
Football program aimed at increasing interest in the sport. This
year the league will help with a kickoff promotion, "Play Football
Week," that will run from Aug. 28 to Sept. 4.
Supported by the league and players association, it will promote
youth registration and participation in programs sponsored by
police leagues, YMCA's and Pop Warner, among others.