On the league's agenda
Last year entering the Super Bowl, the NFL was confronting labor strife and media contracts that needed renewing. Both are now in the rearview mirror. This year the issues are a bit less weighty, but the league, while hitting on most cylinders, still has its share of challenges. Here is a brief look at 10 of them.
■ Los Angeles
The NFL is looking at two stadium sites in the Los Angeles area, one championed by developer Ed Roski and the other a downtown venue by AEG, neither of which has met the league’s satisfaction. If one eventually does, the next question would then be what team, or teams, plays there. The NFL has not played in Los Angeles since 1994.
The new collective-bargaining agreement calls for HGH testing, but left the details to be worked out. As they say, the devil is in the details. The NFLPA has rejected testing, even though the World Anti-Doping Agency has approved the system the NFL wishes to use. Will Congress step in?
■ NFLPA leadership
DeMaurice Smith’s three-year term as NFLPA executive director expires in mid-March. Most presume he will be running again; the only question is whether he will have any opponents.
|Teams are increasingly challenged to find ways to avoid attendance dips.
With the rise of better in-home entertainment equipment, luring fans out of their cushy lairs has become more difficult for the NFL, and it doesn’t look to get easier. Ticket prices, packages and offerings to fans will all be something to watch.
The NFL did not sell streaming mobile rights as part of its new round of TV deals. Verizon holds those rights through 2014, but the league will likely explore how to better monetize watching games on phones.
■ NFL Network
The league said it would expand from eight the number of NFL games shown on its own network. But will that be enough to increase distribution of the channel, still not on Time Warner or Cablevision systems?
■ Concussion litigation
There are 16 separate lawsuits brought by former players, all filed since the middle of last year, against the NFL for concussions suffered during their playing days. The NFL argues it is covered by the CBAs during those years, but if the courts allow the cases to move forward, they could be a financial liability for the sport.
■ Stadium issues
The San Diego Chargers are among teams still looking for stadium deals.
It appears the San Francisco 49ers will be moving to Santa Clara for a largely privately funded stadium. But the Minnesota Vikings, San Diego Chargers, Atlanta Falcons and Oakland Raiders all have pressing stadium issues still unresolved.
■ Expanded season
The league has the option to make another run at persuading the players to add an extra game or two to the regular season. Will it do so, and are the host of player safety measures the league has instituted recently part of the plan to make a case for more games?
■ Workers’ compensation
The one issue the players and league could not resolve in the CBA last year is now winding its way though at least four courts. The players want the right to file claims wherever they choose, while the NFL largely wants the players to have to file in the state of their team.