Seattle Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll is a longtime friend of former AEG president… (Michael Conroy / Associated…)
PHOENIX – Former USC coach Pete Carroll said it’s “definitely a setback” to the push to bring the NFL back to Los Angeles that Tim Leiweke is no longer involved in the effort.
Leiweke, former president of AEG, parted ways with the company last week by mutual agreement when founder Philip Anschutz pulled it off the sales block. It was Leiweke who had spearheaded the Farmers Field concept, a deal that Anschutz still plans to pursue.
“He’s been an extraordinary factor in this, and he’s been iconic in L.A.” Carroll, now coach of the Seattle Seahawks, said of Leiweke on Wednesday at the NFL owners meetings. “So where he settles will be really fascinating to see. I think the emphasis and heart and soul he put into bringing the NFL to L.A. will be definitely missed. He was so into it. He knew everything there was to know about it. He had been committed to it. There was a commitment by his company and all of that to get that done, and now that it hasn’t happened I think it’s an open frontier again.
“If somebody wants to try to figure out how to get an NFL team in L.A., they’d better talk to Tim, because he knows the ins and outs better than anybody.”
There is a belief among some in the NFL that the self-described “re-engagement” of Anschutz could make Farmers Field negotiations a cleaner process because now there’s no middle man.
Carroll is not in that camp. He and Leiweke are longtime friends, and it was Tim’s brother, Tod, former president of the Seahawks, who hired Carroll in Seattle.
“I think [Tim Leiweke’s departure] is definitely a setback in the process,” Carroll said. “Now somebody could jump up and throw the money in and away it goes, but the ins and outs to getting it done is way more than just the cash. There’s so much going on in California, so much with the whole stadium issue, that it’s a very complex situation. And he was the guy at the tip of the spear figuring it out.”
Carroll conceded, however, that there’s little apparent urgency on the league’s behalf to return to the nation’s second largest market.
“I think the league is doing OK,” he said with a smile. “They’ve done all right without L.A. They would love to have teams in LA. It would be awesome to have them, but everything’s going along all right.
“When the opportunity arises, they’ll certainly listen, but they’re savvy enough too to know that when somebody starts barking about it, whether they’ve got their act together or not, and whether to take them seriously. They’ve just been through it for so long, they know.”
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