Goodell says labor dispute “is not anywhere near a war”

The first words of the New York Times profile regarding NFLPA executive director De Smith set the unfortunate tone.

We are at war!” Smith recently told a group of player reps.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell disagrees.

Appearing on NFL Network (via NFLN spokesman Dennis Johnson’s Twitter feed), Goodell said, “This is not anywhere near a war, this is a business dispute that was have to get resolved.”

Goodell also said as to the relationship between the league and the union, “We have been partners and we should continue to be partners.”  He added that the players “are going to do very well out of this and they should.”

Goodell is right, but we don’t necessarily fault Smith for choosing words aimed at communicating with his primary audience a message that the situation is serious, that the players face prospect of losing some of the financial gains that were made in 2006, and that the league has plenty of leverage, given that the players won’t be able to withstand not getting paid — and not being able to play the game they love — for very long if the owners padlock the gates into September.  But it’s one thing for Smith to talk like a head coach when only players are listening; the idea that those words were uttered in the presence of the reporter who then carved them out and highlighted them has hurt the union’s broader effort to win the hears and minds of the fans by giving Goodell an easy opening for offering up a sound bite that, in comparison, seems much more reasonable and rational.

Which, in turn, will likely make more fans believe that the league’s position is the reasonable and rational one.

Even if it isn’t.

UPDATE:  The video (and, more importantly, the audio) of the interview is available at

15 responses to “Goodell says labor dispute “is not anywhere near a war”

  1. Goodell was taken aback by Smith’s posturing to such an extent that he declined in depth commentary at this time. But he did ask DeMo to say hi to Jimmy Hoffa for him.

  2. Union is threatening about a lockout when they set the table to decertify. League will set the best offer forward and declare am impasse.
    Will see DeSmith unemployed soon after a new deal is reached and the players get a bad deal.

  3. If we stil had Upshaw this would never be happening. Smith Is an Idiot, and doesn’t realize how little leverage he has. I say leave the schedule at 16, set a rookie pay scale, give more of the pie to the owners(the ones financing the whol operation) and call it a day

  4. The term “March Madness” is going to take on another meaning if this thing doesn’t get settled soon.

  5. This is called professionalism. If only Smith could learn a little something might happen.

  6. Both sides are just spinning this story. Stop talking to the media and talk to each other. That might be a better strategy for Goodell and De Smith.

  7. The best thing that could happen is a gag order until something is worked out. I’m tired of Smith’s rhetoric and Goodell’s meaningless pandering. I’m also tired of the transparent PR efforts by both sides – fans shouldn’t care who is right or wrong or what is justified or fair – we pay for a product on the field – period.

  8. Nothing in football is anywhere near a war, despite the annoying and persistent use of war metaphors like “in the trenches,” “warrior,” etc.

  9. Goodell should keep his piehole shut and work with the owners and the NFLPA.
    He’s adding to the divide between these two parties.
    Never thought much of him and think even less of him now

  10. The son of a friend of mine just lost his leg and part of a hand in Afghanistan. Now that is war! If this ignorant DeSmith doesn’t tone it down they are going to lose more than respect, they will lose their cash cow. US!

  11. As an avg fan of football for many years we the fans of the game should stand up and send a stern message to the NFL (players and owners alike) that in these times of financial uncertainty we do not except any kind of work stoppage for any reason. People what we have he is billionaires and millionares squabbling over millions of dollars. The owners should be happy the have a product to sell and the players should be happy the have jobs the pay them millions of dollars a year. The average citizen squeaks by week by week living their lives hoping all goes well. So may people are out of work, so many of us have not had a decent raise for years and these guys are complaining, please get real. I know many folks out there are against government intervention but I’m not. Immediately after WWII congress gave all pro sports an exemptions from established labor laws as congress did not want the American people dwelling on the horrors of WWII. Maybe it’s time to remove the exemption. Lastly Roger Goodell should be a commissioner, a bridge between the owners and the players and not an advocate for the owners.

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