Tennessee Titans owner Bud Adams issued a guarantee that the upcoming NFL season will be played, The Tennessean reported Tuesday.
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Adams expressed his optimism Monday night at Nashville’s Hutton Hotel, where he was presented with the T.J. Martell Foundation’s Lifetime Humanitarian Award in a ceremony attended by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
"It’s going to be a few months here, but we’ll be playing this year. I guarantee we’ll be playing," said Adams, while suggesting that the players are more to blame for the labor stalemate.
"It’s one of those things that (the players) haven’t been very (much) wanting to work out a deal with (the owners)," Adams said. "But we’ll be playing football this year. I’ll tell you that for sure."
The 88-year-old billionaire, who made his fortune in the oil and gas industry, did not specify on whether he believed part of the NFL regular season could be canceled due to the lockout.
Goodell echoed Adams in criticizing the players union, which was officially dissolved March 12, for pursuing a "litigation strategy" instead of continuing with negotiations.
"We’ve said we’re prepared to negotiate," Goodell said. "We did not pull away from the negotiating table. The union did, to pursue a litigation strategy. We’re prepared to negotiate tomorrow."
The sides are awaiting an April 6 federal court date on the players’ lawsuit accusing the NFL of antitrust violations. The players are seeking an injunction barring the owners from continuing with the lockout.
The sides negotiated for more than two weeks before federal mediator George Cohen in Washington, but ultimately could not bridge their differences on how to split the league’s $9.3 billion in revenue.