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When Anschutz finally agreed to go all in on the stadium, he took it upon himself to negotiate with other NFL owners without Leiweke's assistance.

In a strange twist, he went from someone who had no interest in football to wanting to buy majority interest in a team.

The scary thing about that: The Raiders probably were the only team capable of giving Anschutz everything he wanted.

That's probably the only way the Raiders could return to L.A., if owned by a Denver recluse.

But in time most of the new stadium discussion has centered on the Chargers, the roadblock being the differing value Spanos and Anschutz placed on the team.

Meanwhile, Anschutz extended Leiweke a new contract and the two men seemed to settle their differences. But with Leiweke moving the stadium project forward and now almost ready to go, it was going to be up to Anschutz to work out the deal to bring an NFL team here.

And that wasn't going well.

Now here's where I see the handiwork of Goodell. Goodell made a name for himself in NFL circles before becoming commissioner by dealing with teams on the move and building new stadiums.

I don't know, and it's strictly a guess, but I wouldn't be surprised if Leiweke dropped Soon-Shiong's name on Goodell. There's also the possibility that Goodell already knew all about Soon-Shiong, who bought out Magic Johnson's minority interest in the Lakers.

Forbes recently estimated Soon-Shiong's worth at $7.2 billion, which means the doctor and biotech investor can talk the language the NFL knows best.

If Soon-Shiong has an interest in becoming a bigger player in L.A. sports, having already failed to secure the Dodgers in the bidding process, is there any better way than aligning himself with the NFL and the AEG brand?

If Soon-Shiong is successful in coming to terms with Anschutz, he not only increases his stake in the Lakers, but continues to give Leiweke his Los Angeles platform while benefiting from Leiweke's downtown and NFL influence.

While initially it's a bombshell to hear AEG has been put up for sale, it begins to make sense when considering football and a new downtown stadium as the centerpiece.

The 2-0 Chargers began this week with 12,000 unsold tickets for Sunday's game against Atlanta. The team will be free in a few months to buy its way out of San Diego and begin play elsewhere next season.

NFL owners gather annually each March to discuss league business. Hello, Rose Bowl.

P.S. And before anyone actually tries to count, I believe this is the 458th story suggesting the return of the NFL to L.A. is imminent.

But this time it maybe really is.

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