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Mort: League privately says there won’t be a total shutdown

NFL Lockout Looms As Negotiations Are Extended Getty Images

ESPN’s Chris Mortensen has squeezed out a couple of tweets this morning regarding a portion of Roger Goodell’s PFT Live interview that was sufficiently compelling to make it onto the ESPN cablewaves on Wednesday.  For those of you who missed it, Goodell did not remove from the table the rumored option of shutting down all business operations in the event the lockout is lifted by the courts.

Mort reports that which Goodell didn’t say — a full shutdown won’t happen.

“As prominent NFL man says, please ignore concept being floated that NFL could shut down business if lockout lifted,” Mortensen writes on Twitter.  “Not a chance, he says.”  Mortensen later dismissed Goodell’s failure to take the option off the table by saying without elaboration, “I wouldn’t use it as a barometer of what’s real here.”

For clarity, we never said the league had decided to shut down if forced to open the doors to players.  We reported that it was an option being discussed.  And we stand by that, even if the option is being discussed solely as a way to vent the frustrations of billionaires who are accustomed to getting their way and who haven’t very often in the past 62 days.  And we assumed (incorrectly, as usual) that Goodell would dismiss the possibility with the same clarity that he has dismissed the concept of replacement players.  When he didn’t, the story grew legs.

Since some in possession of cheeseheads made of tinfoil think that the league planted the rumor with PFT so that we’d ask Goodell the question and that he’d then provide an obtuse response aimed at scaring the players, here’s our take on what happened.  We think Goodell opted in response to the question to resort to the league’s talking point when it comes to the post-lockout rules that would be imposed, and that he didn’t realize his failure to specifically say “there won’t be a complete shutdown” would be regarded as newsworthy.  He does a lot of extemporaneous speaking, he was shuttling between appointments on Wednesday, and he can’t be expected to be pitch perfect each and every time.

So we think the league is now trying to control the situation by leaking that a complete shutdown isn’t an option.  It’s a smart move, for a variety of reasons.  Apart from consistently growing fan anger and frustration, the NFL doesn’t need the three judges in St. Louis who’ll decide whether to issue an order that the players should be permitted to return to work to think that the league is devising strategies for defying an order that the players should be permitted to return to work.  If that happens, the three judges in St. Louis could be more inclined to order that the players should be permitted to return to work.

That’s ultimately why I thought Goodell would respond to the question by taking the shutdown option off the table, and that’s why I now believe that the league has decided to leak the notion that it won’t happen to Mort.

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35 Responses to “Mort: League privately says there won’t be a total shutdown”
  1. jw731 says: May 12, 2011 9:52 AM

    “Tessio was always the smarter one, It’s a smart move”…..

  2. seabreezes51 says: May 12, 2011 10:01 AM

    so, what is a limited shutdown?

  3. tommythek says: May 12, 2011 10:04 AM

    This story is now growing gonads and a third leg.

  4. doncornelious says: May 12, 2011 10:04 AM

    You sonofabitch. Do you know who I am? I’m Roger F’n Goodell. I made my bones while you were going out with cheerleaders.

  5. clintonportisheadd says: May 12, 2011 10:09 AM

    If the league “shut down” then wouldn’t players and coaches under contract essentially be free to form a new league?

    Would not contracts with TV folks be voided since the NFL would be unable to perform it’s obligations?

    I think the answer to both questions is YES and that’s why a “shutdown” will never happen. Why give NBC and the ex-NFLPA a chance to form a real alternative.

  6. yzguy431 says: May 12, 2011 10:10 AM

    i should start my own blog so i can start ‘initial rumblings’.

  7. crazy2bbengals says: May 12, 2011 10:10 AM

    anything you hear between now and the court ruling is all posturing, in an attempt to get the upper hand in negotiations. Nothing will happen until someone feels pain!

    Realistically the owners cannot shut down. A shut down would invite more lawsuits from players who have contracts as well as the Networks which have contracts. Owners could be forced to pay money out with nothing coming in…you really think this old bastards are going to let that happen?

  8. joetoronto says: May 12, 2011 10:10 AM

    More irresponsible reporting from BSPN.

  9. bhindenemylines says: May 12, 2011 10:10 AM

    “He does a lot of extemporaneous speaking”

    In other words “He talks out of his @$$ a lot, so you should never really believe a word he says”.

    Great commish!!!

  10. pacstud says: May 12, 2011 10:14 AM

    And the mediot puppets continue to dance for our abusement.

  11. santolonius says: May 12, 2011 10:16 AM

    the cheesehead with tinfoil suggestion you make does not seem that farfetched now that you mention it. all day every day these guys (on both sides) sit around and strategize how to gain an advantage instead of spending time coming up with a proposal that could be seen as moving to the middle. some of their advantage gaining strategy ideas must get kind of convoluted.

  12. armchairgm9 says: May 12, 2011 10:20 AM

    So you’re speculating on your speculation…

  13. mhs8031 says: May 12, 2011 10:22 AM

    When the lawyers become the players and the reporters are the news, it is time to find another hobby.

  14. George Canty says: May 12, 2011 10:23 AM

    NFL owners seem to have this very unsophisticated view of the legal system — that judges are more influenced by who the parties are than what the law says, that judges will tolerate cute attempts to defy their orders, etc. Bottom line is that the NFL is a monopoly, no matter how you slice it, and judges aren’t going to let a monopoly engage in clearly monopolistic behavior.

    It’s too bad the owners have been so heavy-handed, because it’s distracted attention from Jeff Kessler, who is CRAZY. The NFL has hit on a great formula (draft, free agency, salary cap) that maximizes competitiveness throughout the league. Kessler’s idea of ending all this would mean curtains for the league — classic short term thinking.

  15. chapnastier says: May 12, 2011 10:37 AM

    @ clinton

    If you think the NFLPA or the players are bright enough to start their own league or are willing to actually invest their own money into forming a new league then you are sadly out of your mind.

    This is Mort doing the usual pro-player media song and dance. ESPN is surprisingly more biased than PFT.

  16. Rhode Island Patriots Fan says: May 12, 2011 10:40 AM

    Goodell played it perfectly during the PFT interview. Specifically, the league should neither acknowledge nor dismiss the possibility—however real or remote—of the shutdown option. That “card” should be kept where it belongs—on the table.

  17. GG Eden says: May 12, 2011 10:44 AM

    Mort is a professional liar…..Al Davis.

  18. mick730 says: May 12, 2011 11:04 AM

    “Why give NBC and the ex-NFLPA a chance to form a real alternative.”

    NBC can’t even run it’s own business profitably.

  19. deadmanwalking47 says: May 12, 2011 11:07 AM

    the tinfoil does’nt help cheeseheads much anyway!

  20. olskool711 says: May 12, 2011 11:15 AM

    It seems pretty simple to me.

    The reason why Goodell wouldn’t deny a total shutdown is that a total shutdown is probably what will happen, exactly what will happen, unless the Players look at what the owners put on the table and start negotiating from there.

    Hate to make things too simple. But, that’s where we are at.

  21. nahcouldntbethat says: May 12, 2011 11:20 AM

    There isn’t going to be a total shutdown. Nobody in their right mind just goes out of business when they are running a billion dollar concern and that’s what many of the NFL teams are.

    Before the NFL went out of business you’d see many teams file for bankruptcy individually in an attempt to salvage part of the value inherent in the franchise.

    The NFL owners are handicapped in this entire process by the fact that they are making money hand over fist. They want more of it, but the fact is that the NFL is a wildly profitable concern. Even the weak teams that do not put a viable product on the field are making money.

    We’re going to look back at this in about 5 years and laugh really hard at how contorted things got before reality set in and both sides went back to the status quo.

    Well, hopefully we’ll laugh. This could spin out of control and then nobody will be laughing on either side.

  22. willycents says: May 12, 2011 11:27 AM

    Of course shutdown/out of business is an option. Most idiots know that is an option. Whether or not is a viable option is purely up to the owners, not to news media stories and conjectures. It has to be on the table for negotiations to succeed.
    Imagine the hysteria in the media if it was disclosed that the nuclear option was “on the table” in the Iran nuclear reactor situation. If I was president, any possible option, however unpalatable, not presented to me would really piss me off and I would fire whomever did not presentit, howbeit briefly.
    Anyone who thinks that has not been mentioned/is not being discussed is incredibly naive. No news here, just trying to fan the public fears and generate hate for one or the other side in a labor dispute.

  23. andrewfbrowne says: May 12, 2011 11:30 AM

    This is kinda dumb, and to say Goodell wasn’t on point for not categorically denying a stupid question is silly. Goodell took the high road and neither confirmed nor denied a baseless rumor and said we are considering lots of options. Since when is not acknowlegding something admiting it is true?

  24. smacklayer says: May 12, 2011 11:30 AM

    I’m confused, isn’t there a shutdown right now? Don’t they plan on continuing until a new CBA is signed?

  25. 2011to2020lions says: May 12, 2011 11:31 AM

    I am at the point of WHO REALLY CARES anymore!!!

  26. bmac187 says: May 12, 2011 11:38 AM

    For those of you without a law degree asking “Why don’t the owners just (insert stupid idea)?”, the simple answer is there are legal ramifications you don’t understand or grasp.

  27. ampats says: May 12, 2011 11:47 AM

    The same Chris Mortensen who reported last summer that Tom Brady was unhappy with his contract status and would hold out of training camp.

    We saw how that prediction worked out.

  28. jimr10 says: May 12, 2011 12:01 PM

    Well, if Mort said it, it must be true. LOL

  29. itsallaboutmee says: May 12, 2011 12:40 PM

    Chris Mortenson is the Jeff George of reporters.

    Maddeningly inconsistent, unable to handle simple throws, yet is capable of hitting the big one every now and then. The only thing I am not sure of is if Whitlock has Mort on his speed dial like he does Jeff.

  30. tommyf15 says: May 12, 2011 12:42 PM

    even if the option is being discussed solely as a way to vent the frustrations of billionaires who are accustomed to getting their way

    That’s exactly what’s going to bite the owners in their collective arses in this labor dispute.

    The owners’ ego are telling them that since they have always won in the previous labor battles, they will continue to win in the future, without examining the issues at hand.

  31. bigbeefyd says: May 12, 2011 12:56 PM

    Maybe the UFL would then expand to 38 teams (the 5 they have, the players and coaches from the now-defunct NFL, and one expansion team). Go Locos!

  32. thefiesty1 says: May 12, 2011 1:31 PM

    Yes he can be pitch perfect in everything he says. He has to be very specific and perfectly clear. He is the head of a multi-billion dollar business. With all this crap going on, he has no choice but to be perfectly clear in anything that he says.

  33. tommyf15 says: May 12, 2011 3:04 PM

    George Canty says:
    NFL owners seem to have this very unsophisticated view of the legal system — that judges are more influenced by who the parties are than what the law says, that judges will tolerate cute attempts to defy their orders, etc. Bottom line is that the NFL is a monopoly, no matter how you slice it, and judges aren’t going to let a monopoly engage in clearly monopolistic behavior.

    I agree 100% with one caveat- the courts and congress can get downright silly when it comes to matters involving professional sports.

    George Canty says:
    It’s too bad the owners have been so heavy-handed, because it’s distracted attention from Jeff Kessler, who is CRAZY. The NFL has hit on a great formula (draft, free agency, salary cap) that maximizes competitiveness throughout the league. Kessler’s idea of ending all this would mean curtains for the league — classic short term thinking.

    It would not mean the end of the NFL, not by a long shot. Despite an occasional claim to the contrary, MLB is doing just fine without a salary cap and a draft that is fat less meaningful than the NFL’s.

    I see no harm in letting the NFL giving a true free market system a try.

  34. contraryguy says: May 12, 2011 4:28 PM

    Mort would’ve said there are no US tanks in Baghdad if he thought it’d be a scoop.

  35. stairwayto7 says: May 12, 2011 4:36 PM

    Another bogus story by the 4 letter network! Name names Mort, or will you get black-balled from Hopsings??

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