Technically, the ownership meeting scheduled for Tuesday in Chicago won’t begin until Tuesday. As a practical matter, the process (as we’ve heard) started Monday, with the folks responsible for negotiating a new labor deal gathering for a planning session.
Albert Breer of NFL Network has the details. The labor committee met Monday, with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, general counsel Jeff Pash, outside counsel Bob Batterman, Panthers owner Jerry Richardson, Broncos owner Pat Bowlen, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, Giants owner John Mara, Bengals owner Mike Brown, Chiefs owner Clark Hunt, Steelers president Art Rooney, Chargers president Dean Spanos, and Packers CEO Mark Murphy.
Not on Breer’s list was Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who has emerged as one of the key figures in this process, especially since he has secured the trust of the players. At this point, however, there’s no reason to read anything into his absence.
The planning undoubtedly relates to the looming effort to persuade most, and preferably all, of the other owners to buy in to the notion that a fair, win-win deal should be finalized, and that any desire to force the players to take a bad deal should be abandoned. As a practical matter, it will be impossible to get every owner on board with that approach, since some of them surely don’t care about the greater interests of the game and care only about their own interests and/or balance sheets.
In the end, the owners need to trust the man they’ve hired to do his job. We’ve previously heard that an overwhelming majority of the owners will support whatever deal Commissioner Roger Goodell recommends. If that attitude still stands, Tuesday’s meeting should be a proverbial walk in the even more proverbial park.
The fact that so much time and effort has been devoted to the process in preparation for the meeting means that nothing is being taken for granted. Or perhaps that Goodell realizes that it possibly won’t be as easy to get the votes as he previously believed.
Either way, time will tell.