CBA solution first order of business
NFL owners addressed issues ranging from rule changes to player safety to in-stadium improvements during meetings Tuesday at the Palmer House Hilton, but the ongoing labor negotiations were first and foremost on most minds.
''That's been the focus,'' Bears president Ted Phillips said. ''It's in everybody's best interest to get a deal done. ... The owners are as resolute as ever about making the deal good for everyone. But obviously, the financial aspects of it have to change.''
Owners also discussed plans for labor negotiations and contingency plans if the March deadline passes without a new collective-bargaining agreement. So far, there have been few serious negotiations.
''We're going to prepare for all alternatives and work hard to get a collective-bargaining agreement in the meantime,'' NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said.
Phillips said he likes what his team has done early this season but improvement must be made.
''There are only three teams with one loss in the NFC,'' he said. ''We're happy. We still take it a week at a time because we obviously still have to improve in a lot of areas, but to be able to say we're 4-1, we like the spot we're in.''
Phillips said he would not address the status of coach Lovie Smith and general manager Jerry Angelo until after the season.
''It's a long season,'' he said. ''We have a long way to go, but I'm real happy with the progress we've made so far.''
DITKA PLEADS CASE
The league announced a partnership between the NFL, the NFL alumni and the Dr. Gay Culverhouse Players' Outreach program that will include hiring case workers, development of a toll-free hotline and personal outreach to retired players, who can receive medical evaluations and assistance applying for expanded benefits and services through the program.
Former Bears coach Mike Ditka addressed the membership and pleaded his case for more support for retired players facing financial hardship.
''I'm tired of doing it, and I'm too old to do it,'' Ditka said of his efforts to raise money through his ''Gridiron Greats'' program. ''They're going to do the right thing.''
SCRUTINY ON CATCH RULE
The rule that cost the Detroit Lions' Calvin Johnson a game-winning touchdown against the Bears in the season opener will likely be reviewed when the competition committee meets after the Super Bowl.
''The going-to-the-ground rule will definitely be discussed,'' said Rich McKay, co-chairman of the competition committee. ''It has been discussed for the last several years. It's a most difficult rule because you write rules for on-field officials and not so much people like us watching it on replay or at home on TV, and there's a definite conflict.
''We need to go back and look at that rule and make sure we haven't extended it too far. It's not easy to do because most plays don't happen at the pace Calvin Johnson's play happened. That makes it difficult.''