BARRY WILNER,AP Pro Football Writer
PHOENIX (AP) — The Baltimore Ravens’ reward for winning the Super Bowl might be a road trip.
Traditionally, the NFL champions kick off the next season by hosting a Thursday night game. Baltimore earned that privilege with its 34-31 victory over San Francisco last month.
Problem is, the guys next door, baseball’s Orioles, are scheduled for a night game on Sept. 5, when the NFL would open its schedule in Baltimore. Camden Yards shares parking lots with the Ravens’ home stadium.
Unless the Ravens and the NFL can get the Orioles to run a reverse and move the game to the afternoon or to another day — without violating any Major League Baseball rules — Joe Flacco & Co. could open on the road.
Not something Roger Goodell wants to see. The NFL commissioner twice has spoken with his MLB counterpart, Bud Selig, seeking a solution.
“Unfortunately, the only (other) option is to take the Ravens on the road,” Goodell said. “We think that is wrong for the Ravens’ fans. We would not want that to happen.
“We are working on parallel tracks for a couple more weeks. Clearly, we are getting to a point where we have to make that decision.”
So far, there’s been no progress in talks, and Sept. 4 is not an option because it’s the first night of Rosh Hashanah.
The Orioles are scheduled to play the Indians in Cleveland on Sept. 4 at 7:05 p.m. and then open a series at home against the White Sox on Sept. 5 at 7:05 p.m.
Under baseball’s collective bargaining agreement, getaway games shall not be scheduled or rescheduled to start later than 5 p.m. if either club is required to travel for a day game, scheduled the next day, between cities in which the in-flight time is more than 1½ hours.
The rule can be waived by a vote by the players on the team it affects, in this case the Orioles.
Last year, the NFL moved the opener to a Wednesday night to avoid conflicting with President Barack Obama’s acceptance speech at the Democratic Convention.
“We have had discussions with representatives of the Orioles, and we have offered to make them financially whole,” Ravens President Dick Cass posted Monday on the team’s Twitter account. “We’ve left it there. Now the commissioner is trying to find if he can find a solution.”
Goodell also said the playoffs will not expand this season, but it will be discussed for the future. Last December, Goodell spoke about adding two or four teams to the current 12-team format.
“The competition committee looked at some of the issues,” said Goodell, who added the league needs to discuss expanded playoffs with the players’ union, too.
“Now, we have a little bit of work to do before we can advance it. It clearly won’t be happening for this year if there was any doubt about that.”
Surrounded by six Pro Football Hall of Famers at a news conference, Goodell and Jim Brown announced that the league will pay $42 million as part of a settlement with a group of retired players who sued over the use of their names and images without their consent.
“We have a common good fund in our agreement that will allow us to reach out and help a lot of our players who really need help,” Brown said, “and not only that, but to help their spouses who some are suffering. We have individuals who are homeless.
“Today is like a coming back together because we can publicly say that we are doing something together that is going to be a landmark happening for people who truly need it.”
Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson, a former NFL receiver, said the agreement was “better late than never.”
“Some of my most frustrating moments in discussions have evolved around this issue of what in my judgment is fairness to the former players of the league who were not included in the benefit packages and (not) appreciated the way they should,” Richardson said. “It is a new day. I am honored that this day has arrived. I am very grateful it is here.”
Moments later, Goodell came down hard on teams that consider asking questions about a player’s sexual orientation at the scouting combine.
Michigan quarterback-turned-receiver Denard Robinson, Colorado tight end Nick Kasa and Michigan State running back Le’Veon Bell indicated they were asked about it last month in Indianapolis.
“We have been following up with the players and their representatives directly,” Goodell said. “We are also this afternoon working with all of our executives that lead in that position to make sure they understand what you can’t ask and what you can ask. We’re a professional organization. That’s unacceptable. We will do things the right way. We will give them that education and that training. I hope that that will solve the problem.”
Goodell also dismissed the notion that problems caused by the third-quarter blackout during the Super Bowl will damage New Orleans’ chances of hosting the game again. The league believes New Orleans authorities discovered the source of the problem that caused a 32-minute delay.
“They did a great job,” Goodell said. “I mentioned that this morning to our membership and I think they deserve another Super Bowl.”
—Said there will be no change to the $36 million salary cap reduction the Washington Redskins were hit with in 2012; $18 million last year and $18 this year. Redskins general manager Bruce Allen recently called the penalty “a travesty of fairness.”
—Admitted there was improved effort in the players’ performance at the Pro Bowl and there will be further discussions here on its future.
—Reiterated the league’s desire to place a franchise in Los Angeles. He even thought Philip Anschutz’s decision not to sell AEG, which has interest in building a stadium downtown, is “very positive.”
“We want to get back to Los Angeles, but we are going to look at every alternative we have to do that successfully,” he said.
—The NFL also approved terms and conditions for the new lease and renovation of the Buffalo Bills’ stadium.
“This is another important step in the process toward finalizing the related definitive agreements and remaining on schedule to begin the improvements this year,” Bills CEO Russ Brandon said.
—Said the league is expanding a relationship with Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
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