Goodell: Both sides now committed to reaching deal
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will spend the weekend preparing
for the next set of negotiations, energized by this week’s secret
talks that he believes show both sides are committed to ending the
While the owners and players spent Friday in a St. Louis
courtroom arguing over the legality of the lockout, Goodell visited
with troops at a U.S. Army base in North Carolina with Carolina
Panthers coach Ron Rivera.
At the end of a long day at Fort Bragg that included trying on –
but not using – a parachute, Goodell took questions from soldiers
before telling reporters there’s some reason for optimism following
the talks in Chicago.
”The importance is to have the principles talk,” Goodell said.
”That’s what we were interested in doing, have the owners and
players talk to one another. That was accomplished this week. …
That’s a positive sign for us.”
Goodell was far from specific – he wouldn’t say when the next
round of talks would be held or if the owners will be preparing
another offer – but acknowledged both sides showed a willingness to
work toward a deal.
He wouldn’t say how the two sides would compromise on the
stumbling blocks in the negotiations, mostly notably how to divvy
up $9 billion in annual revenue.
”I would just tell you that both sides are committed to
continuing the dialogue,” Goodell said. ”In negotiations, you’re
making different suggestions, recommendations and proposals from
time to time. I think both sides will do that in a responsible
Goodell agreed that having the lawyers absent and the players
and owners meeting directly – Rivera acknowledged Panthers owner
Jerry Richardson was there – helped get the talks rolling.
”I still believe principle to principle is the best way to
really get the kind of dialogue you need so people understand the
different perspectives,” Goodell said.
But time is running out. Already free agency has been delayed,
minicamps canceled and optional workouts put on hold. Training
camps are scheduled to open next month.
Goodell wasn’t spared from the fans’ frustrations at Fort Bragg.
One soldier accused the owners of being the players’ ”No. 1
distraction” and asked Goodell, ”Where’s the passion, the love of
”I understand the frustration and criticism because people want
football,” Goodell said. ”You hear that everywhere you go. I
heard that all day today. That’s what we’re in the business of
doing. You have to make sure you’re taking the right steps, though,
to protect the game for a long-term basis.”