PHOENIX—It’s no secret the NFL wants to put a team, maybe two, back in the Los Angeles market.
Breitbart Sports caught up with new Oakland Raiders coach Jack Del Rio at the NFL owners meetings in Phoenix, and asked the hulking former linebacker how he can prevent relocation stories from becoming a distraction to his team.
“I go back to the first thing [Raiders owner] Mark Davis told me when I asked about it in our interview,” Del Rio told Breitbart Sports. “That is, ‘I remain committed to having a team in Oakland. We are going to do everything we can to have it be there.’ So, that is first.”
A move back to the Los Angeles market by the Oakland Raiders, St. Louis Rams, San Diego Chargers, or any combination of two of those teams could happen as soon as 2016, according to New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and New York Giants co-owner John Mara.
The Raiders, residing in Los Angeles from 1982 through 1994, remain unhappy with their current stadium situation in Alameda County, and have an agreement with the San Diego Chargers to share a stadium in Carson if they can’t settle into a new home in Oakland.
Rumors about a potential move can be a huge distraction to players and coaches. The 1995 Cleveland Browns, who relocated to Baltimore the following year, finished 5-11. They were 4-5 when it came out they were moving to Baltimore. The bottom dropped out on their season after the announcement.
The former coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, a franchise the subject of periodic relocation rumors, now leading the Raiders from the sidelines appears acutely aware of how such off-the-field talk can impede on-the-field results.
“I know there are potential opportunities other places, and other scenarios, and I’m just not going to spend time and energy on that,” Del Rio explained. “I’m going to focus all of my time and energy on having the team as prepared as possible for every Sunday this fall and leave it at that.”
Sometimes that is easier said than done. Ask Bill Belichick, head coach of the 1995 Browns.