A U.S. District Court judge in Los Angeles recently proposed a compromise to settle a suit by the Los Angeles Coliseum and Oakland Raiders against the National Football League by suggesting the Raiders be permitted to move to Los Angeles and an expansion franchise be placed in Oakland with the present players to be split among the two clubs.
Judge Harry Pregerson requested NFL attorneys to sound out the member clubs and they reported there was no interest, according to an involved source.
Pregerson has been hearing the case in which the Coliseum and Raiders are challenging the NFL's power to bar a shift of the Raider franchise to Los Angeles.
At the regular spring meeting of the league in March in Palm Springs, the petition by Oakland to move was brought up and was defeated, with 22 of 28 votes against it, and five clubs abstaining. The Raiders were invited to attend but chose not to be represented in the room where the vote was held.
The antitrust suit is scheduled for trial on Feb. 9.
Another involved source said, "I don't think it's fair to say the judge proposed the settlement. As I understand it, Los Angeles Coliseum attorneys did and the judge just passed it along. I believe the Raiders would be in favor of it. The Coliseum proposed that the best players be sent to Los Angeles and the rest -- the dregs . . . the third-stringers -- be kept in Oakland. There was no vote on the compromise proposal by the NFL clubs, they were just canvassed. They rejected the proposal. I don't know ofn any club favoring the Raiders.
"As I understand it, the judge was trying to work out a settlement; I think he realizes there is no other way the other team owners will agree to the move to Los Angeles."
Joseph Alioto, attorney for the Raiders, said, "The judge has called settlement conferences as a matter of course. This is nothing unusual. I don't think a settlement is near; I don't think it is possible. There is not any serious inclination on the part of the NFL to settle, in my opinion.
"I am optimistic about our suit in view of recent court actions."
Al LoCasale, executive assistant to Al Davis, the Raider general managing partner, quoted Davis as saying, "The commissioner was a party to destroying negotiations in Oakland, and obviously a party to destroying negotiations in Los Angeles. Now he is trying to disrupt our football team."
The last remark was interpreted as referring to players possibly being upset at the prospect that some might be kept in Oakland and some sent to Los Angeles.
"Nobody is going to get in the way of getting ready for Dallas (on Sunday in Oakland)," Davis said. "This team was built with blood, sweat, tears -- and love."
Don Weiss, executive director of the NFL, reported Rozelle as replying to that by saying, "From the beginning the commissioner's position has been to uphold the NFL constitution as it regards franchise transfers, and he is continuing to do that as well as acting in accordance with the March vote of the member clubs. If they (the Raiders) say that's obstructionist, that's their privilege."
Weiss noted that some New York sportswriters who covered Monday's victory by the Raiders over Denver in Oakland quoted Davis saying that demonstrations by fans there against a possible move of the team to Los Angeles were instigated by Rozelle.
Weiss said, "Pete had absolutely nothing to do with instigating or staging the demonstrations (which were seen on the nationwide telecast of the game)."
Still another source said, "The NFL should be encouraged by the demonstrations seen on TV on Monday; it was a tremendous display of how Oakland fans feel."