NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the Super Bowl in Indianapolis next year could be moved back a week if it meant allowing the lockout-threatened 2011 season to be played out in full.
After almost 10 hours of talking Thursday, the NFL team owners and locked-out players appeared to make no progress Friday in resolving their differences in a federal courtroom in Minneapolis. Judge Arthur Boylan sent them home and scheduled the next session for Tuesday.
While refusing to discuss ongoing discussions, Goodell went on the record during a preplanned teleconference with Cleveland Browns fans later Thursday. He told them that the priority for both parties was to guarantee the 2011 season could begin on schedule.
"I can tell you that it’s a positive step when the parties are talking," Goodell said. "We saw the March 11 proposal as responsive to issues raised by the players and there are many attractive elements in it. Our entire focus is on getting a deal done. We’re going to make sure we have football, and more of it."
Goodell also told the Browns fans that the NFL was reluctant to resort to replacement players, which it employed during the 1987 player strike, should the legal wranglings enter the fall.
Goodell and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft were among those representing the league at the Minneapolis mediation, while players union chief DeMaurice Smith and several players were also present as the sides dispute how to split up $9 billion in revenue.
The talks were ordered by federal judge Susan Richard Nelson, who is presiding over the antitrust lawsuit filed by 10 players against the NFL. The sides are awaiting her ruling on the players’ request for an injunction against the lockout.
An appeal of her decision is expected to be quickly filed regardless of which way she rules.