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Goodell tells fans that league and players “can and will” reach an agreement

Goodell_Smith AP

Joining multiple NFL owners in multiple contexts, Commissioner Roger Goodell has declared unequivocally his belief that the league and the players’ union “can and will” reach an agreement on a new labor deal.

The operative question remains whether that will happen before the offseason, training camp, preseason, and regular season, or some portion or combination thereof are wiped out.

Goodell’s vow comes in a Monday e-mail to five million fans, the full text of which we have posted separately.

The message attempts at times, in subtle fashion, to persuade the fans to align with the owners in the ongoing labor mess.  But it’s a little too long and wordy, like the terms-of-service box that we inevitably claim we’ve read and understand so that we can get to the next step of the software-installation process.

Here’s a summary of the key points, as we interpret them.

“Economic conditions . . . have changed dramatically inside and outside the NFL since 2006 when we negotiated the last CBA,” Goodell writes, even as the league persists in its refusal to share with the union internal financial information that would support a reduction in the size of the slice of the pie that the players currently receive.   “A 10 percent unemployment rate hurts us all.  Fans have limited budgets and rightly want the most for their money.”

Whether it’s the economy or something else, the league is faced with a problem of significantly more less-than-full stadiums than in 2006, the first year of the current labor deal.  NFL spokesman Dan Masonson told us Sunday that there were 26 blackouts in 2010, up from seven only four years ago.

Of course, it could be that the prices for the tickets in the markets affected by blackouts are simply too high.  As the viewing experience shifts toward enjoying the game on HD and 3D televisions, it makes sense at some point for ticket prices to drop — and for the league to generate even more money from its broadcast partners as it harvests less from paying customers.  As ratings go up and attendance goes down, it’s a no brainer for the league to seek greater revenue from the boob tube and less from the box office.  (At some point in the future, the in-home technology continues to improve, large portions of the general-admission crowd at a football game may get in for the price of a movie ticket or less, since they’ll be in many respects serving as background extras for the ultimate reality show.)

Goodell’s e-mail also addresses the issue of expanding the regular season, presuming once again that fan complaints regarding the length of the preseason necessarily translate into a clamor for more games that count.  We think plenty of fans want less preseason games and the same number of regular-season games.

The e-mail likewise repeats Goodell’s position regarding the need for a rookie wage scale, explaining that some of the money paid to unproven rookies should be shifted to veterans and retired players.  It’s a point with which we agree in most respects.

“My job is to represent the game — the fans, teams, players, coaches and business partners,” Goodell writes as he wraps up the 16-paragraph message.  “Protecting the integrity of the game and ensuring it thrives is a responsibility I take very seriously.”

We believe him.  But the reality is that he was hired by and answers to the owners.  Even though Goodell seems to be doing a far better job than any of his peers and predecessors when it comes to representing all constituents, his biggest challenge may not be getting the NFLPA to make concessions, but persuading the owners to do so.

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28 Responses to “Goodell tells fans that league and players “can and will” reach an agreement”
  1. flyerscup2010 says: Jan 3, 2011 12:16 PM

    …Goodell is so full of crap. The more he talks, the more I shift from thinking he’s doing a good job to thinking he’s a complete egomaniac. He’d be a great politician.

  2. jsolinsky says: Jan 3, 2011 12:21 PM

    “presuming once again that fan complaints regarding the length of the preseason necessarily translate into a clamor for more games that count. We think plenty of fans want less preseason games and the same number of regular-season games.”

    If you get rid of preseason games, and don’t add regular season games, that means that you lose the revenue from the missing games.

    Less revenue, means less money to spread around in trying to secure a new CBA, and therefore less liklihood of an agreement.

    In my opinion, getting rid of preseason games and not replacing them with regular season games would be a truly brain-dead move.

  3. PFTbitesthehandthatfeeds says: Jan 3, 2011 12:28 PM

    Flouride , where do you base your opinion that GODell is doing a better job than his predecessors? he may be better than Tags, but he ain’t no Pete Roselle. Maybe his cleaning up of the off field stuff is commendable, but his transgressions on the field have been terrible.
    Seems PFT was more objective before it sold its soul to NBC.

  4. masteel says: Jan 3, 2011 12:32 PM

    AND Goodell announced as well that due to the inconsistent penalty calling of the NFL Referees with late hits, defenseless player hits, and personal fouls ….. each Referee will be involved in a mini-camp, they will put on pads & gear. And be tackled by hand picked defensive players that will demonstrate actual personal foul hits & legal hits.

    This training will satisfy the owners and teams with creating a constructive and interactive session so the Referees can feel and realize just what the hits are like ….and how they should call them. No doubt each NFL fan will absolutely be happy to know those Ref’s will get their “bells rung” by some good ‘clean’ hits (as well)

  5. owensaws says: Jan 3, 2011 12:33 PM

    Goodell keeps making statement on the 18 game schedule of how all he hears from fans is that we want it. I agree with PFT we DO NOT WANT 2 more games we want 2 less preseason games but yet he feeds the media crap on this. I in no way want 2 more games I want 2 less meaningless games that cost me $100 a pop.

  6. claymania52 says: Jan 3, 2011 12:33 PM

    Ass the viewing experience shifts toward enjoying the game on HD and 3D televisions, it makes sense at some point for ticket prices to drop — and for the league to generate even more money from its broadcast partners as it harvests less from paying customers.

    Ass the viewing experience? In my humble opinion Proctology really doesn’t have a place in the NFL….I think they should stick to Football.

  7. armchairgm9 says: Jan 3, 2011 12:49 PM

    “The problem is that we used to decide what was best for the game, and then figure out ways to make money off of it. Now, it’s turned to figuring out how to make the most money and then deciding how to make it look like it’s good for the game.”

    – A high level NFL exec as quoted in Brian Billick’s book

  8. sfsteve says: Jan 3, 2011 12:52 PM

    Total Hogwash. What about charging fans less for pre-season games instead of gouging them for full price in tough economic times? Then, to add further insult they are “increasing” the number of regular season games to 18. This is a perfect example of what happens when you let the NFL run a monopoly. They are making decisions that fly in the face of common sense. The comment “Fans have limited budgets and rightly want the most for their money” is a slap in the face to their fan base. Fan want a “reprieve from the NFL’s assault on their wallets”. What about the absurd prices all over the league for such items as $100 parking at Cowboys games? $11 beers at stadiums? Here is what the NFL is turing into: the No Family League, the No Fans-in -the-stands League, the No Financial-Sense League. Get a real clue Goodell.

  9. mushin9 says: Jan 3, 2011 12:56 PM

    “Ass the viewing experience shifts toward enjoying the game on HD and 3D televisions, it makes sense at some point for ticket prices to drop..”

    3D ass viewing will continue to be on the rise regardless of ticket prices.

  10. nygiantstones says: Jan 3, 2011 1:00 PM

    Agreed. He is a politician for sure. But then again, what leader of any corporation ever comes out and talks straight to the public. Its always a game of words and making sure the 90% of sheep hear what they want to hear and not worrying about the other 10% that can be labeled as crazy anyways. As soon as I read “even as the league persists in its refusal to share with the union internal financial information” I stopped reading the article. What a joke the relationship between the union and league is. What a joke. Its like watching the US deal with Russia. All a bunch of smoke and mirrors to hide the fact that both countries are corrupt and driven by their own self interests alone.

  11. igottz5onit says: Jan 3, 2011 1:09 PM

    From a lifelong NFL fan, to Roger Goodell, to quote Brandon Lloyd, “F$&@ you in the most professional way possible.”

  12. dienavinjohnson says: Jan 3, 2011 1:10 PM

    “Economic conditions . . . have changed dramatically inside and outside the NFL since 2006 when we negotiated the last CBA,” Goodell writes

    That must explain why my season tickets have gone from $119 a game ($1190 a season because they make us buy 2 pre-season games) to $179 a game ($1790 a season including the meaningless pre-season games.)

    $1790 buys a pretty damned nice High Def LED TV. And I only have to buy it once. And I don’t have to pay $60 bucks to park in my driveway. And I don’t charge myself $10 for a beer or $5 for a hot dog. And I get to watch 2 other games in my nice, comfortable man cave.

    Why do I even have season tickets? I love the game…but the corporate morons that are starting to dominate the crowd make it less enjoyable. So, the NFL needs to lower its prices. Or else it will be an anti-septic home crowd attended by suits on a business lunch.

    One small probalem with this…who pays for the stadiums?

  13. footballisking says: Jan 3, 2011 1:17 PM

    I wanted to puke when I opened my email today and saw that fraud sent me that crap!!!!!!!!! The league knows they have alot of backlash over their inconsistencies and all of their current operating procedures…no matter how many PR campaigns they send the backlash is not going anywhere…go sabotage another sport goodell

  14. Deb says: Jan 3, 2011 1:24 PM

    You believe him? Ever hear of walking the talk?

    Protecting the integrity of the game is his top priority? Nothing is more essential to the integrity of the game than competent officiating. But officiating issues have become egregious, and the league has made no tangible effort to address them. The NCAA’s booth-review system is more efficient and accurate than the red-flag challenge system the NFL lifted from the USFL. But Goodell won’t discuss it. And I’m tired of watching whole crews of officials who seem confused about the rules.

    He’s concerned about safety? Where are the studies showing the best way to reduce the number of head injuries? How much is the league investing in new helmet designs? Last I heard, the league cut funding to spinal cord research. And they want to cut funding for player healthcare. Did Goodell design a corporate communications program to explain to players, coaches, and owners the need to modify hitting techniques? Or did he just pander to the public and leave players and coaches trying to figure out what the heck was going on?

    And about that committment to enforcing the personal conduct policy and fielding players who can be role models … why does that apply only to the Roethlisbergers and Favres, but not to the Youngs and Underwoods who skate on their offenses?

    Sincerity is as sincerity does, Mike.

  15. odessabucs says: Jan 3, 2011 1:55 PM

    I think the 18 game number is a negotiating ploy. The players don’t want it so they give on something else to preclude 18 games.

  16. strategerie says: Jan 3, 2011 2:10 PM

    I think Hell just froze over. I agree with @deb.

    Goodell has NO credibility re: the CBA. He’s not the one that ends up with incipient dementia at 40 because of shots to the head. Post-career health care and significant injury prevention is Job One for NFL players. Lining the pockets of team owners (when most municipalities are footing the bill for palatial stadiums) is nothing but ridiculous. Most of all, an 18 game season is beyond insane. Teams can’t stay healthy through 14-16 games. Did he not note the recent prime-time broadcast in which two 3rd QB rookies played because injury sidelined numbers 1 and 2?

    Hey, Mr. Goodell: Open your books to the players’ union. You might also remember the owners don’t play the game, and it’s difficult to field a league without players. You’ve given no reason for the average fan to back your cause, especially when that average fan doesn’t have $300-1,000 to attend a NFL game in their hometown.

    Unbelievable.

  17. scytherius says: Jan 3, 2011 2:13 PM

    Of course they will work it out. WAY too valuable an asset to screw it up and piss of f the fans. Nothing is as popular as the NFL.

    Hopefully they don’t do the 18 game season though. that’s absurd.

  18. goldsteel says: Jan 3, 2011 2:20 PM

    More happy talk from Goodell. “I represent everyone, everywhere who has but a passing fancy for football”. The contract is still between the players and the owners. Exactly where does Goodell fit into this equation? What a carnival barker!

    Save the NFL,
    Fire Goodell.

  19. sfsteve says: Jan 3, 2011 2:33 PM

    Speaking of “Health of Players” how about this hypocrisy:

    “Our emphasis on player health and safety is absolutely essential to the future of our game. . . We are also addressing the potential wear-and-tear on players in the way they train in-season and off-season”

    . . and the best way to do it is take away two meaningless preseason games where the stars rarely play (and we charge our fans full price) and add an 18th regular season game to add more wear and tear on the athletes.

    Hmmmm. How does this equate to making an effort to reduce repetitive concussive injuries?

  20. tiffpats4eva says: Jan 3, 2011 2:36 PM

    flyerscup2010 says:
    Jan 3, 2011 12:16 PM
    …Goodell is so full of crap. The more he talks, the more I shift from thinking he’s doing a good job to thinking he’s a complete egomaniac. He’d be a great politician.
    ***************

    Goodell is a politician’s politician.

  21. sfsteve says: Jan 3, 2011 2:42 PM

    One more thing. Sorry for all these comments. It is so ridiculous that the fans have not organized voice. NFL fans fund this enterprise, yet there is no fan voice at the negotiating table. If teams don’t sell out a game, the game is blacked-out in the market. This essentially says, “If you don’t come to our games and pay ridiculous prices at our stadium, we will black you out.” Regarding the work stoppages over the decades, “if we cannot figure out how to divide up all our gazillions, you don’t get to watch football”. The NHL sacrificed the Stanley Cup Championships and Baseball sacrificed the World Series at fan expense. This set the precedent for the NFL to lock out players and start the season in December with full 18 game season finishing with Super Bowl in June. Make note, no reduced season. No fan voice. No fan respect.

  22. bspurloc says: Jan 3, 2011 3:44 PM

    .
    good now explain to me how wilfork or whatever his name is on the patriots, whom possess no neck gets called for leading with his head on one play then not on another.

    the guy has no neck, if he leads with his shoulders thats automatically his head.

  23. grogansheroes says: Jan 3, 2011 3:56 PM

    I agree with everything that all the FANS above have said. I hate GODell! I think he is a lawyer’s lawyer. I have not spoken to one fan that thinks an 18 game schedule is a good idea. The problem is the owners make tons of money with the preseason games because they don’t pay the players any real money. They don’t start paying until the real games start.
    As for the officiating, the calls and fines for the hard hits, is all a ploy to keep the players in the future from suing the league. Now that you have definitive evidence of brain trauma, it opens the door for future litigation. What is shi thead GODell? A lawyer, that’s right.
    The fans should have some representation but you know what? The league and the union do not care one iota what anyone of us think, and that’s the truth!
    This league is going to ruin itself, and people will find something else to do. After the lockout, when attendance and tv sets are tuning out, you can bet they will let the helmet to helmet contact go, so the fans will come back.
    I’ve said it a hundred times, the punishment this guy handed out for a minor offense in the spygate case is the beginning of the end for him and the league.

  24. jpmelon says: Jan 3, 2011 4:02 PM

    Obviously 4 preseason games is outrageous, and as some people with brains have noticed, you can’t expect the NFL to simply drop 2 games out of the season. There is a ton of revenue that would be lost from the TV, ticket and advertising rights. This is why the 18 game season is a reasonable compromise. The season would start early and end at the same time. Real games would generate more revenue than preseason games and could result in higher salaries for the players.

    People complain that the extra 2 games at the end of the season would mean there would be more meaningless games that allow teams to sit their starters and give the 2nd string players the starting roles…….my response: It’s the same thing as a preseason game except I could feel OK about having to pay for it because at least the game counts.

  25. Deb says: Jan 3, 2011 4:29 PM

    @jpmelon …

    As some people with brains have noticed? Well, apparently what you, in your infinite wisdom, missed is that the league pays players less for preseason games. Rather than wanting to increase their pay for the two additional regular-season games–you know, those higher salaries you’re blathering about?–the league is proposing that players take an 18-percent paycut overall.

    Phyisiologists have estimated that the physical impact of playing in a single regular-season NFL game is comparable to being in a low-impact car crash. So you’re suggesting players endure two additional car crashes per year–while taking a corresponding 18-percent paycut. This will likely shorten their careers and limit their earnings overall. In addition, it will be more likely to increase the severity of debilitating injuries that will plague him in later life. If a player plays 10 years, he’ll endure an additional 20 car crashes. And the league is trying to negotiate itself out of paying employee healthcare benefits.

    So a 10-year player will be enduring 20 additional car crashes for significantly less pay and risking more injuries with fewer benefits to cover them.

    I’m so glad someone with brains chimed in to tell us all why this is such a great idea.

  26. steelers6pack says: Jan 3, 2011 4:32 PM

    Looks like everyone is finally seeing Goodell for what he really is like I have been sayign for over a year! He is the worse commish! Why do you send me a email about the CBA as soon as the season is over? Saying player “deserve to be paid” is hogwash! My military brothers and sisters who risk their lives daily 365 deserve more than soem uneducated guys who weigh 370 lbs or can catch a ball, but have 4 illegitamite kids by 4 women!

  27. childressrulz says: Jan 3, 2011 7:49 PM

    I hope the players get everything they are asking for. I hate to see a bunch of old dusty farts make more money off something their dead father left them. The players assume most of the risk and should make most of the money. (This is the part where some moron will talk about the financial risk these owners assume.) I think most have plenty of money and besides with the popularity of the NFL it does not seem like much of a risk to me anyway. It also seems like the ticket prices should be lowered and attendance by young middle and lower class kids wouldn’t just be a thing of the past anymore. To reiterate the owners have plenty of money to give the players what they want and lower ticket prices. Screw these old, dusty, shrivel balled, owners.

  28. nsevh76 says: Jan 4, 2011 9:39 AM

    “A 10 percent unemployment rate hurts us all. Fans have limited budgets and rightly want the most for their money.”

    If he really believed that why are we paying full price for preseason games? The most what for our money? Certainly not talent.
    And maybe there are moe blackouts cause nobody’s interested in a league where you get a penalty if you hit a player too hard.

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