NFL team owners Wednesday overwhelmingly rejected the proposed move of the Los Angeles Rams to St. Louis during their annual winter meeting in Phoenix. Rams owner Georgia Frontiere described the vote as “arbitrary and capricious and not based on precedent,” and indicated “the last chapter has yet to be written.”
With 21 owners voting no, three in favor and six absentions, the league essentially told the Rams they will have to play next season in Anaheim, Calif., the city they spurned in favor of a new, $260 million domed stadium in St. Louis.
Though Frontiere declined to say specifically what her next step would be, Missouri’s attorney general, Jay Nixon, indicated Monday he would file an antitrust suit against the league if the move was rejected.
NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue said the league still hoped to “avoid litigation. We’re not trying to be confrontational. We’re trying to be sensible and fair.”
Tagliabue said owners were opposed to the move based on three main issues. The first involved the sharing of $70 million in personal seat licenses raised by St. Louis for fans to guarantee a season ticket. The second was Fox television network’s objection to the move. Fox paid $1.58 billion for the right to televise NFC games through ‘97.
The third involved the Rams’ apparent unwillingness to contribute to a not-for-profit trust fund the league wanted them to establish to assure a major renovation of an existing stadium or future construction of a new stadium in Southern California after the Rams left.
Instant replay, ended three years ago by the NFL, was killed again at the meeting when one proposal was withdrawn and another was easily voted down.
Seahawks sign Raiders’ Moss
The Los Angeles Raiders lost free agent Winston Moss when the starting right linebacker signed a three-year, $4.225-million deal to join Seattle.
The deal became official after Moss paid the Raiders $100,000 to get out of a right-of-first-refusal agreement made with the team in January.
The Raiders had up to 15 days to match any offer. Instead, the Seahawks added $100,000 to their offer to pay off the Raiders. Moss will now receive a signing bonus of $1.6 million instead of $1.5 million.
Moss, 29, played in 16 games, starting 15, for the Raiders last season. The 6-3, 245-pounder played college ball at Miami, where Dennis Erickson used to coach.
“He’s got an attitude,” said Erickson, in his first year coaching the Seahawks. “I like that. He makes plays.”
Moss ignited a brawl in the Seahawks’ second game of the 1994 season when he jabbed Seattle quarterback Rick Mirer in the face as Mirer was on the ground. Moss said later, “It’s not a cheap shot unless you get caught.”
Seattle was looking for an outside linebacker after losing Rufus Porter to New Orleans on Friday. They had already lost inside linebacker Rob Stephens.
Saints match Seattle’s offer
The New Orleans Saints have decided to match the Seahawks’ four-year, $5.5 million contract offer for wide receiver Torrance Small, a restricted free agent.
That forces Seattle to resort to backup plans in its hunt for receivers. Raiders wide receiver Alexander Wright is scheduled to visit Seattle next week, and former Houston Oiler Haywood Jeffires could be in town soon.
Around the league
Free-agent receiver Andre Rison said he will play for Cleveland next season. “There are just a few more things that need to be worked out on the structure of the deal, that’s all,” Rison told The Atlanta Journal.
Michael Timpson, who caught 74 passes for New England last season, joined the Chicago Bears after the Patriots failed to match a three-year, $4.5 million offer.
Calling the federal sting “entrapment,” a Florida jury acquitted former Miami Dolphins receiver Mark Duper and his brother-in-law of trying to buy cocaine.
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