At Redskins Park, Goodell Addresses Labor Issues
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell paid a visit to Redskins Park on Tuesday morning. As the team began practice, Goodell chatted on the sidelines with owner Dan Snyder, executive vice president of football operations Vinny Cerrato, Coach Jim Zorn and former quarterback Joe Theismann. Rookies Brian Orakpo and Jeremy Jarmon also stopped by.
Goodell said he spoke to Redskins players, as he does in several cities, before they took the field. He said the questions and concerns he hears often revolve around the collective bargaining agreement. Both owners and the NFL Players Association have warned that a lockout in two years is possible if a new agreement isn't reached soon.
"I think everybody in the NFL wants to play," Goodell told reporters this morning. "The owners want to play, the players want to play. It's our job to get a deal. It's why I keep saying a lockout is not a strategy or an objective. What we want to do is get an agreement that works for the players, the coaches and the game, allows us to continue to grow it. There's not a lot of rhetoric that's needed. We need to sit down at the table and try to get those issues resolved."
Union leaders have said that the owners seem determined to lockout players in 2011. The owners opted out of the collective bargaining agreement last spring, unhappy with the revenue split. If the two sides can't reach a new agreement by March, the 2010 season would be played without a salary cap.
While in D.C., Goodell said he would meet with DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFL Players Association and would not characterize how negotiations currently stand.
"Any time you're in negotiations, you take a step forward and maybe a step back," Goodell said. "We're communicating, we're trying to get information to the union leadership, make sure they understand the challenges we're facing as a system and as a business. And make they sure they understand that so we can design a system that addresses the issues for the players, the coaches and the game."
"When we get an outcome, I don't know. What we're looking for is the right outcome."
A few other topics that Goodell addressed with media...
On Michael Vick's return thus far:
"The issue for Michael is to be able to deal with all of the issues in that transition back to the NFL. A lot of those issues that I'm focusing on are off the field. How is he doing with the transition? Does he have his family relocated? Does he have the right people around him, helping him make decisions? Tony Dungy has been incredibly helpful, Donovan McNabb has been helpful. I talk to Michael on a weekly basis, if not more. I'll be meeting with him sometime in the near future. I think he's making the right kind of progress. He's focused on the right kind of things."
On a few bad apples spoiling the bunch: "When we developed a personal conduct policy, we did it with player input. I met with well over 150 players, worked with Gene Upshaw [the NFLPA executive director who died in August 2008] to create the policy, and it was something players really wanted, for exactly the point you're making: we're good people; a few people are giving us a bad reputation. And I don't think that's right.
"I'm proud of what our players do, both on and off the field. I think we have a bunch of great guys. It's one of the things I hear consistently from coaches and when I spend time in the locker room: these are great young men."
On TV blackouts in Jacksonville and economic challenges:
"We've always said we're not immune from the economy. I think it reflects two things, what you're seeing in Jacksonville. One is the quality of preseason games. I think our fans are sort of seeing the quality of the games aren't up to NFL standards. So I think that's a factor. Additionally, they are ...one of the markets where we're seeing some challenges for ticket sales coming into the 2009 season. And we'll have other markets where we'll have those challenges. It's all part of the challenges we're seeing in the economy and what our fans are going through. Our clubs have been working hard during the offseason to try to create other ways to get people into the stadium, to have policies that are a little more flexible. Hopefully, they're going to pay dividends for us."
On Twitter and the NFL:
"We embrace that. It's a great opportunity for us -- just as it is for you all -- to communicate with our fans and for our players, coaches, other people to be involved. Technology is good for us when we have great content. We believe we have great content, so this is a good thing for the NFL."
On the wedge rule change for special teams:
"We want to see how it evolves. I talked to the coaches here today, talked to the Jets' coaches on Friday about it. It's something we've got to officiate properly. It's something we believe is a play that can lead to some injuries - and to some to tragic injuries as we saw with Kevin Everett - so we're concerned about the play and the safety of it. Now how do we officiate it and does the rule address the issue? I think we'll have to see that as time evolves and as the season evolves."
On swine flu:
"We've talked about it all offseason. We have medical committees that are working on it. We've sent out guidance to our clubs last month on this - two months ago now, in July. It's an important issue for us, both on the team level and also at our stadiums. We want to make sure that we're responsible, that we know what needs to get done to be responsible in this area. I think we've done that."
On an 18-game schedule:
"It is one of the possibilities. We're still looking and evaluating it, but yes, it's one of the possibilities."
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