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Cowboys eyeing Oxnard

SAM FARMER / ON THE NFL

Team official says a deal is in the works to spend part of training camp in the city.

March 23, 2010|SAM FARMER

ORLANDO, FLA. — The NFL eventually will return to the Los Angeles market.

In the meantime, the Dallas Cowboys are doing their part to fill the void.

The Cowboys are hoping to spend part of this summer's training camp in Oxnard, a team executive said Monday, which would mark the fifth time in seven years "America's Team" has held workouts in the nation's second-largest market. The deal isn't done, but the final details are being worked out, said Stephen Jones, the team's chief operating officer and son of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.

"There's a good chance we're there," the younger Jones said at the NFL owners meetings. "We're putting everything to bed."

Jones said the team probably would spend 10 days to two weeks at the Oxnard site, at the River Ridge fields adjacent to the Residence Inn, and the rest at the Alamodome in San Antonio. But Jones added that the Cowboys' Southern California stay could be increased to "as long as we've got availability out there."

A spokeswoman for Oxnard said she would not comment on negotiations until she received permission from the Cowboys.

Because the Cowboys are playing in the Hall of Fame game, against Cincinnati, their training camp has been extended a week. Therefore, it's more feasible to split camp between two locales.

The Cowboys trained in Oxnard from 2004 to 2006 before signing a five-year deal with the Alamodome. They returned to Oxnard in the summer of 2008, however, because of a scheduling conflict in San Antonio.

"The reason we left Oxnard in the first place was they were going to develop that property, and there wasn't going to be a spot anymore," Jones said. "But the economy went the other way and so now the property is still there, and we've always enjoyed our experience out there I think it will spice things up, getting outside in that cool, fresh air. Obviously, we're not at a point to announce [the deal is done], but we're fired up about it."

Overtime vote

NFL owners are expected to vote Wednesday on the latest overtime proposal by the competition committee, one that increases the likelihood of both teams touching the ball in the extra period.

The plan, which needs a three-quarters majority (24 votes) to pass, says the team that gets the ball at the start of overtime can win on the opening possession only with a touchdown. If that team kicks a field goal, the other team gets a possession with a chance to either win with a touchdown or tie with a field goal. If the score is tied after that, it would be sudden death from that point on.

If neither team scores on its first possession, the game would continue on a sudden-death basis. Initially, at least, the plan would be put in place for postseason games only.

The challenge, Commissioner Roger Goodell said, is "how do we design a system that will be appealing to our fans and will stay true to the competitive integrity of our game. I think the competition committee has come up with something that's very much worth consideration It's getting a lot of thought, and it has the potential to be a better system."

Roethlisberger talk

Goodell made it clear that he is very concerned about accusations against Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who is under police investigation in an alleged sexual assault on a 20-year-old college student in a Georgia bar. Last year, the quarterback was sued by a woman who said he raped her in Lake Tahoe in 2008.

"The most important thing is we take the issue very seriously," Goodell said. "We are concerned that Ben continues to put himself in this position. I have spoken to [Steelers President] Art Rooney directly about it; at the appropriate time I'll be meeting with Ben."

Giants beat Jets

A simple flip of the coin has become something much more in New York, where the Giants and Jets were angling to become the first team to play in the new stadium they will share. The Giants won the toss, meaning they will play the Sunday opener Sept. 12, and the Jets will play host to a Sept. 13 Monday night game.

Jets owner Woody Johnson criticized the way the league handled the matter, noting neither team was invited to watch the coin flip. On Monday, Goodell defended the process.

"There was a coin flip; I did it myself, so I know," he said. "We didn't call heads or tails. We used the head of the coin for the Giants because it says, 'In God We Trust.' So the 'G' is for Giants. It's that simple. I think we came up with a great solution."

Labor pains

The most important issue on the NFL agenda is the labor situation, although there have not been discussions between the league and the players' union for several weeks. Goodell said that's largely because of logistical problems, seeing as the NFL Players Assn. had its annual meetings in Hawaii a week ago, whereas owners were gearing up for these meetings.

The current deal expires in March 2011, and a lockout could be in the offing. Goodell said he expects to speak with union representatives "in the next week or so" and arrange more meetings.

Moving the ump

The league plans to take umpires out of the line of fire.

The competition committee is making a recommendation that umpires be moved from their spot on the defensive side of the ball -- at roughly linebacker level -- to the offensive side, opposite the referee. (Imagine a triangle on the offensive side composed of the center, referee and umpire.)

Atlanta Falcons President Rich McKay, co-chairman of the competition committee, said there were at least 100 instances last season in which the umpire was knocked down. The league typically accepts the recommendations of the committee, which are not put to a vote.

sam.farmer@latimes.com

twitter.com/LATimesfarmer

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