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Goodell’s call to Ochocinco opens a potential can of worms


At a time when NFL coaches have been told that contact with players will result in termination with cause (i.e., without pay), the prohibition on communication with players apparently doesn’t apply to the Commissioner.

Bengals receiver Chad Ochocinco gushed on Twitter about getting a phone call from Roger Goodell, which resulted in a one-hour conversation.

Chad said he was “nervous as hell” for the “most amazing surprise,” and that it was “cool as fudge” for Goodell to call.

We asked NFL spokesman Greg Aiello, who “re-tweeted” one of Chad’s Twitter messages about the conversation, to help us understand how it is that Goodell can talk to Ochocinco on the phone for an hour while teams can’t talk to their players for even a second.  Aiello said that “normal social interaction” is permissible, both for Goodell and for the teams.

“Isn’t that a slippery slope?” we asked.

“Life is a slippery slope,” Aiello replied.

So now the question becomes whether teams know that they can engage in “normal social interaction” with players.  And then the question becomes how “normal social interaction” would ever be policed.

Either way, it looks like every NFL head coach just got the green light to start engaging in “normal social interaction” with all of their key players on a daily basis.

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75 Responses to “Goodell’s call to Ochocinco opens a potential can of worms”
  1. jpmelon says: Apr 21, 2011 11:48 PM

    eh….it might be a good thing….when the lockout ends (at some point it will have to) you don’t want players to hate their coaches. Goodell might have made a mistake by doing this and looking foolish, but as you mentioned, it does allow coaches to keep in contact with their players….”socially”.

  2. bmckay3 says: Apr 21, 2011 11:49 PM

    This is a big deal

  3. whatchutalkinabouthillis says: Apr 21, 2011 11:50 PM

    You better not bitch if this “social interaction” happens Roger, you set the precedent. Terminating any coaches now for contacting their players is going to set you up for a massive lawsuit.

  4. fin72 says: Apr 21, 2011 11:50 PM

    Goodell is such a weasely peice of crap.

  5. hobartbaker says: Apr 21, 2011 11:51 PM

    Actually it was a wrong number but it took Goodell an hour of trying to understand what the hell Och was trying to say to finally realize it.

  6. duanethomas says: Apr 21, 2011 11:51 PM

    Wait until the 2 Jerry’s (Jones & Richardson) hear about this.

  7. demolition510 says: Apr 21, 2011 11:59 PM

    What a mess.

  8. Deb says: Apr 22, 2011 12:00 AM

    Instead of venturing down the slippery slope of having coaches and players gauge what constitutes “normal social interaction,” wouldn’t it be simpler to fire Goodell for cause?

    And to make it fair to both sides, fire Ochocinco with him.

  9. commoncents says: Apr 22, 2011 12:11 AM

    Goodell should be fined, then fired!!

  10. bearsrulepackdrool says: Apr 22, 2011 12:11 AM

    I thought they said they were going to monitor how long these calls were and said they had to be kept within a certain amount of time.

    What the h*ll is this?

    Who has an hour-long “normal social interaction” with their boss? Not only their boss but their bosses boss’ boss boss.

  11. nagaswan says: Apr 22, 2011 12:14 AM

    could be charity

  12. zeckwreck says: Apr 22, 2011 12:17 AM

    This very thing shows how ridiculous this lockout really is…Goodell got caught doing something he shouldn’t, and now the “natural” reaction is to say, “oh, normal social interaction with coaches and players is FINE. Didn’t you know that?!?”

    Coach Carroll, please engage in a social conversation with Nnamdi and Gallery on their thoughts about joining our team next year for 16 games of social interacting. As long as you’re wearing a hawaiian shirt and having a casual beer at the same time when you bring it up of course. That’s what normal social individuals do, right?

    What an ass…

  13. riverhorsey says: Apr 22, 2011 12:18 AM

    Goodell is trying to find a loose cannon like Ochocinco to push for an agreement.

    He knows Ocho’s career is likely over if he misses this season and that would motivate him to push for a new CBA.

  14. lutazanderman says: Apr 22, 2011 12:20 AM

    Wow, this has to be the worst run lockout and decertification in the history of labor disagreements.

  15. thekingdave says: Apr 22, 2011 12:22 AM

    Greg Aiello’s a dolt

  16. ninerdynasty says: Apr 22, 2011 12:22 AM

    didn’t Jim Harbaugh get a slap on the wrist for throwing “socially” with A Smith? hmm.. Goodell, you’re a two faced sob!!!

  17. benh999 says: Apr 22, 2011 12:29 AM

    Really? It looks more like the point of teams not talking to players during the lockout is to prevent them from gaining a competitive edge. Goodell talking to Ochostinko would give no one a competitive edge.

  18. mataug says: Apr 22, 2011 12:31 AM

    ” Either way, it looks like every NFL head coach just got the green light to start engaging in “normal social interaction” with all of their key players on a daily basis. ”

    Do you seriously want us to believe that NFL coaches are not in touch with their players ? Besides the owners, the rest of them i.e. the coaching staff and players breathe football day in day out and am pretty sure they cannot stay away from it (even Brett Favre wants to play with high school players while not wanting to go to training camp).

  19. Trey says: Apr 22, 2011 12:34 AM

    I know it is hard to gin up stories with no free agency, but this is comparing apples and oranges. Goodell represents the owners. Coaches represent the respective teams. So no there is no controversy here unless you want one, which it appears you do.

  20. iamthorny says: Apr 22, 2011 12:36 AM

    Greg Aiello is a “slippery dope”.

  21. lugubriosoman says: Apr 22, 2011 12:42 AM

    Hey Goodell is not stupid. If you want to further undermine the NFLPA* why not get one of the most outspoken players on your side? I’m sure we will be seeing all kind of Tweets from 85 about getting back to playing soon……..

  22. jdandcoke says: Apr 22, 2011 12:52 AM

    no offense to this site (love you guys btw)….but as a cop, who deals with actual life and death situations on a daily basis (in other words, things that actually matter in this world), this whole secret-squirrel, legal-eagle nonsense regarding the do’s and donts of this nfl lockout are a total bunch of horse****. i (and most nfl fans im assuming) couldnt give a flying **** less if goodell asked ochocinco to be the godfather of his grandchild….who gives a ****????? the settlement of this lockout is all that we, THE FANS, are concerned with.

  23. gosuhgo says: Apr 22, 2011 12:52 AM

    Chad might be an idiot sometimes but I’m pretty sure he’s an idiot like a fox. He knew exactly what he was doing tweeting about that phone call.

  24. freedomispopular says: Apr 22, 2011 12:56 AM

    If nothing else, they can try talking in code to go over plays for next season.

  25. gergie1957 says: Apr 22, 2011 12:59 AM

    I’ll bet that was a very intriguing conversation.

  26. CKL says: Apr 22, 2011 1:07 AM

    NFL players & coaches be careful..”it’s a TARP”!
    It would be hard for me to respect Goodell much less but this doesn’t help increase my respect that’s for sure. The Browns get slapped with a huge fine for their coaches talking to McCoy et al then Goodell does this THE SAME DAY?

    All this from a guy who always trumpets FOs and coaches being held to a higher standard than players? “Do as I say not as I do” is a chump philosophy. Then Aiello gives a flip little response?

  27. conquerpeace4d says: Apr 22, 2011 1:09 AM

    Someone needs to use this as leverage to fire Goodell.

  28. tehowdruid says: Apr 22, 2011 1:12 AM

    This is the worst logic I’ve ever heard. Goodell is the commissioner, he runs the league, if he wants to talk to a player he can talk to a player, their is no rule against it.

    Sure the coaches can talk to their players…. IF they want a $50,000 fine every time they do. But the idea of “Goodell did it so that means every coach can do it” is short sighted and stupidity.

  29. nowathand says: Apr 22, 2011 2:22 AM

    Goodell just wants a reference if he has to go work for MLS.

  30. ydnubm says: Apr 22, 2011 2:37 AM

    The Most Esteemed Commissioner From The Great State Of New York, Roger Goodell , has made it clear that he intends to impose any and all suspensions and fines as he sees fit on players during the unilateral labor disagreement. (The NFL has LOCKED OUT the players)

    This is just more proof that he, like the ownership group he represents, is behaving in a monopolistic and anticompetitive manner.

    Folks, don’t let all the soundbites and comments blind you…The NFL is in clear violation of Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 and should be regulated as such.

    …Section 3 of the Sherman Act specifically states that “Every contract…in restraint of trade or commerce in any territory of the United States…is declared illegal. Every person who shall make any such contract…shall be deemed guilty of a felony”

    That’s right…Messrs. Rooney, Mister Jones, Mister Kraft, Mister Mara, et al., you are guilty of a FELONY. FELONY. FELONY. What is the NFL policy on alleged felonies?

  31. jcdavey2011 says: Apr 22, 2011 3:01 AM

    this is stupid…goodell isn’t a head coach

    at a time when players are saying the commish reps the owners and not the players, pft is saying he shouldn’t talk to the players?

    and comparing goodell to a head coach?

    what kinda dumb-ass logic is that?

  32. footballisking says: Apr 22, 2011 3:02 AM

    Goodell is a fraud that contradicts himself whatelse is new??????

    Every coach in the league is now calling all the players “to discuss recent episodes of the cbs tv show the big bang theory”

  33. cambodianbreastmilk says: Apr 22, 2011 3:33 AM

    Hypocrisy at it’s finest.

  34. maverick0 says: Apr 22, 2011 3:42 AM

    Another story about a “non-story”.

  35. kevsright says: Apr 22, 2011 3:52 AM

    Time for Amanly Tumor, ex-player and current nitwit, to accuse the commish of being the Nazi’s director of communications.. 🙄

  36. osnap305 says: Apr 22, 2011 3:58 AM

    lol. Loopholes FTW.

    This is how classy organizations like the NFL handle their business.

  37. georgegabriel9 says: Apr 22, 2011 5:34 AM

    slow news day..

  38. seabreezes51 says: Apr 22, 2011 6:18 AM

    Since Goodell is the commish, not a coach for a specific team, there is no conflict.

    The whole “Ban” thing was to discourage a team from taking unfair advantage by organizing team activities during the lock out.

    non story………… Maybe Goodell wanted some dancin’ tips?

  39. bobbyhoying says: Apr 22, 2011 6:19 AM

    It sounds as if the league is worried no one will watch cvoverage of the draft. I for one have lost interest.

  40. cidman2001 says: Apr 22, 2011 6:41 AM

    I think that’s outrageous! Teams can’t talk to their players or face getting fired, but the commissioner can just call up a player and have an hour long lobbying session for the owners. This is nothing more than an attempt by the owners to incite dissent among the players…….FAIL!

  41. cidman2001 says: Apr 22, 2011 6:42 AM

    Maybe we should move Goodell over to the Turd Watch section….. 🙂

  42. BernardPollardIsAnAss says: Apr 22, 2011 6:42 AM

    This is not news. We already knew coaches and players could attend charity functions and other similar events together. That is normal social interaction for these guys. What, you thought they were not allowed to even speak to each other at these types of events. That’s a little silly.

  43. v6volume says: Apr 22, 2011 6:47 AM

    “Life is a slippery slope” Classic!

  44. enders9 says: Apr 22, 2011 7:14 AM

    It wouldn’t surprise me if Goodell did this just to allow coaches to talk to players. What other reason does he have to call Ocho? Plus, everyone knows that Ocho tweets everything. So Goodell knew that Ocho would tweet this and that the media would pick up on it.

  45. texline1 says: Apr 22, 2011 7:28 AM

    Cool as fudge? What a Tard.

  46. chc4 says: Apr 22, 2011 7:35 AM

    Waste of ink. This is the least of anyone’s worries.

  47. mikeyhigs says: Apr 22, 2011 7:42 AM

    That’s funny. When I have normal social interaction, I often talk about work. And football.

  48. nps6724 says: Apr 22, 2011 8:08 AM

    How exactly does the commissioner communicating with the player have anything to do with player-coach communication? Gooddell can do lots of things coaches can’t. How is this any different?

  49. chuckyd97 says: Apr 22, 2011 8:10 AM

    Is this a sign that they’re getting pretty close on a decision with the lockout? I would hope so! Otherwise, fire Goodell for breaking the rules and “living a slippery slope”!

  50. bucfandango says: Apr 22, 2011 8:11 AM

    “Get on the horn to all of your players ASAP. Tell them that they are being totally misrepresented and to pressure their negotiators to accept the NFL offer. It is fair, they are all well compensated, and everything in the deal is a compromise. As the Commish, and Omnipotent One, I’ve had just about enough of this $h!t. They obviously forgot just how powerful I am.”

  51. fltharley says: Apr 22, 2011 8:35 AM

    sounds to me like ohcho might be one of the 70 players thinking of getting there own attorny and goodell was trying to stop them or find out information. i would think this would be illegal ? i wonder what the judge would have to say about this. why would commissioner be able to do any negotiating behind the courts back ?

  52. t1mmy10 says: Apr 22, 2011 8:51 AM

    i think that’s fair. if family members can do it why not friends?

    and to counterpoint “well how do you know if they’re talking about things that are more than just normal convo?” you don’t unless one side lets it slip, but how do you know every head coach isn’t calling his top player everyday to discuss team stuff? you won’t unless one side lets it slip.

  53. sickcuz says: Apr 22, 2011 8:52 AM

    In the past, didn’t he claim something happened on twitter then later said it was a joke? This could just be an attention ploy.

  54. t1mmy10 says: Apr 22, 2011 8:58 AM

    @ the ppl who need to learn how to read

    1) the league just said coaching staff can contact players IF they don’t discuss non-working, non-football, non-negotiation related stuff. aka, if caldwell and peyton are best buds, they can still hang out as long as they don’t talk about anything nfl related.

    2) goodell wasn’t talking about negotiation with ochocinco or else ochocinco would have tweeted that…which he didn’t.

  55. snowpea84 says: Apr 22, 2011 9:00 AM

    On Mike and Mike they called this a good article…why?
    Its fine as a random piece of “hey look ath this if you’ve got nothing better to do.” But it doesn’t make any good insights.
    The inference at the end is mind bogglingly stupid and the author must realize that. So, that’s your game? Get clicks however you can with no integrity or dignity??

  56. sakatak says: Apr 22, 2011 9:10 AM

    When you only are making $1.00/year do you really care if you get fired?
    @ Deb (insert smiley face here)

  57. theroc5156 says: Apr 22, 2011 9:12 AM

    Actually, the call went like this:

    Goodell: “Hey Chad. Do you know the Bengals just sent me a request for a trade approval?”

    Ocho: “Fo real, dog?”

    Goodell: “Uh, I don’t have a dog but anyway, yeah, they agreed to ship you to the Panthers”

    Ocho: “Get out! I mean it be cool to play again wit mah homie Smitty and I’m honored that they think I’m worth the first pick of the draft, but seriously dog, the Panthers suck”

    Goodell: “I already told you I don’t have a dog, but anyway, the Bengals are only receiving two..”

    Ocho: “A 2nd round pick?? Bengals be gettin’ robbed but whatevah.

    Goodell: “Not 2 pick. 2 kicking tees. Nice chatting with you and see you next year. Maybe”


  58. jaguarsman says: Apr 22, 2011 9:20 AM

    Did I miss something?What was the conversation about?I think they missed the most important part.Hey if you can’t get the whole story then why post it.I wasted my time reading this.

  59. pftdabomb says: Apr 22, 2011 9:23 AM

    My god people, you are turning this into something much bigger then it is……..

    This is why we need the labor issues to go away. Otherwise, people loose their minds over BS.

  60. dafixisin says: Apr 22, 2011 9:31 AM

    If worse comes to worse, the commish could always fall back on the “I was talking to Ochocinco, media icon/press pass member”, as opposed to NFL player.

    I think 85 is starting to rub off on Goodell.

  61. chatham10 says: Apr 22, 2011 10:07 AM

    I used to think only sportswriters and lawyers made a mountain out of a mole hill, Ochocinco requested that Comm. call him and he did, so what? Those two are not going to solve the CBA problem so let them talk and if anyone truly believes that coaches are not talking to texting players, then I have some lake front property to sell you at a real fair price.

  62. 2011to2020lions says: Apr 22, 2011 10:21 AM

    One of the Players said they felt like an outcast by Goodell, and that he should be on both sides. I guess he took the to heart and is now trying to talk to both sides fairly LOL who knows maybe that is true

  63. 3octaveFart says: Apr 22, 2011 10:26 AM

    I’m still waiting for chapnastier’s defense and explanation of how it’s OK for management to live by a different set of rules as everybody else in the same game… you know he will.

  64. jeff061 says: Apr 22, 2011 10:35 AM

    Despite PFT’s positioning Goodell as the evil Commisioner of the Owners, he’s actually the Comissioner of the NFL which includes the players

    This is a ridiculous story.

  65. ydnubm says: Apr 22, 2011 10:46 AM

    > Despite PFT’s positioning Goodell as the evil Commisioner of the Owners, he’s actually the Comissioner of the NFL which includes the players

    Umm…Negative. The NFL has no players at the moment. They chose to LOCK THEM OUT.

  66. Deb says: Apr 22, 2011 10:56 AM

    @sakatak … Good one!!! I’d give him $2 to go away! 🙂

    Ochocinco made clear from the start that he’s riding the fence and wants no part in the labor negotiations, so I doubt Goodell would pick him to send messages to the rank and file. But there’s something slimy about him talking for an hour with the Commissioner during a lockout, then tweeting it was “cool as fudge.” Actually … that would be kinda creepy even if there were no labor action. Sounds like he’s hero-worshipping the commish.

  67. thephantomstranger says: Apr 22, 2011 11:10 AM

    To all those who think the commissioner shouldn’t be allowed to talk to a player during the lockout, do you also think the owners and players at the negotiation sessions shouldn’t talk to each other?

  68. 3octaveFart says: Apr 22, 2011 11:16 AM

    3octaveFart says: Apr 22, 2011 10:26 AM

    “I’m still waiting for chapnastier’s defense and explanation of how it’s OK for management to live by a different set of rules as everybody else in the same game… you know he will.”

    ooops, my bad.
    I forgot today was Good Friday so he’s probably not at work, where he usually spends all day cruising sports blogs on his bosses’ dime while he condemns worker’s rights. A day off that he was given btw, as a direct or indirect result of collective bargaining,

  69. arnoldziffel says: Apr 22, 2011 11:52 AM

    Life is a slippery slope?

    All the more reason for NFL owners to open their books. You just cannot trust anyone this slippery …

  70. doe22us says: Apr 22, 2011 12:17 PM

    If the guy wants to talk to Chad so be it why the hell should you care?

  71. Deb says: Apr 22, 2011 12:34 PM

    thephantomstranger says:

    To all those who think the commissioner shouldn’t be allowed to talk to a player during the lockout, do you also think the owners and players at the negotiation sessions shouldn’t talk to each other?

    Now you know that’s a silly question and the two have nothing to do with each other. The league has made rules about interaction … and as usual, Goodell has decided the rules are for everyone else.

  72. thephantomstranger says: Apr 22, 2011 1:24 PM

    Deb says:
    Apr 22, 2011 12:34 PM
    thephantomstranger says:

    To all those who think the commissioner shouldn’t be allowed to talk to a player during the lockout, do you also think the owners and players at the negotiation sessions shouldn’t talk to each other?

    Now you know that’s a silly question and the two have nothing to do with each other. The league has made rules about interaction … and as usual, Goodell has decided the rules are for everyone else.

    My point is just that the effect of the lockout is that players can’t be participating in football-related interaction with their teams or potential teams. Goodell doesn’t represent a team so what’s the harm? There seems to be some confusion about what the rules for interaction are, so please enlighten us if you have the rulebook.

  73. melikefootball says: Apr 22, 2011 1:35 PM

    I’m scratching my head–what in the world could Goodell even get from a ME player rather than a TEAM player?

  74. Deb says: Apr 22, 2011 4:43 PM

    @thephantomstranger …

    Goodell represents all the teams. And the issue isn’t what they could be discussing in terms of football strategy. It’s the perception that he doesn’t play by the same rules he expects everyone else to follow. That seems to be a recurring theme with him.

    I’d love to have a copy of the rulebook. You’ll find it’s quite difficult to get any kind of complete copy of NFL rules on any issue … because they always seem change with the situation.

    As for Ochocinco … this is a lockout rather than a strike and we’re not talking about people on the verge of starvation. But let’s say this were the British miners strike of the 1980s. Men didn’t know how they were going to feed their families. They were desperate people. Imagine what would have happened to a clown bragging about his hour-long “social” chat with a management leader and how the guy was “cool as fudge.” Chad will never know how blessed he is to live in this time and to be in this industry.

  75. jcdavey2011 says: Apr 23, 2011 5:19 AM

    stupid people are the ones who slam goodell for not caring about the players, then he calls one and they act like he’s a head coach calling a player

    how moronic

    like watching republicans try to debate lol

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