Goodell says “the time has come to make a deal”

In an op-ed item that will appear in newspapers throughout the country, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says that “the time has come to make a deal.”

So what has changed in the last six days since the NFL stormed out of a collective bargaining session?

Well, nothing.  The clock is still ticking toward the expiration of the labor agreement, and the two sides are no closer to sifting through and working out the various issues.  The only real development since the last bargaining session has been the filing of a legal claim by the NFL, which has repeatedly chided the union for attempting to build leverage through litigation.  The league’s filing before the National Labor Relations Board is aimed at blocking the union from decertifying, an act that would guarantee the continuation of football while the parties hammer out their differences in a courtroom.

That action in and of itself should alarm the fans of the game.  The league so badly wants to be able to lock out the players and shut the game down for the full offseason and possibly beyond that the league is willing to sue the union to keep the players from exercising their ability to surrender their collective bargaining rights in the hopes of acquiring a little of that which they currently don’t have.


And while the players, who struck 24 years ago, aren’t trying to stave off a lockout for the benefit of the fans, the reality is that the union’s strategy, if successful, ensures that we’ll have football while the dispute is worked out in a courtroom, where a judge will be able to intervene when the lawyers are pissing and pouting at each other.

The league’s strategy, if played out completely, would take football away from the fans.

That’s why it’s hard to put much stock in the league’s stated desire to do a deal for the benefit of the players, teams, and fans.  The league’s message, we believe, is incomplete.  The league wants to do a deal, on the league’s terms.  Or else the league will take the game away from the players — and from the fans.

Though it remains to be seen whether the league would play out this game of chicken to the point where a full season is lost, the league wants what it wants and the league is sending a clear message that it will do whatever it has to do to get what it wants, even if it means scrapping a full season.  (It could be a bluff; if it’s a bluff, it’s a damn good bluff.)  Meanwhile, the league claims to want to craft a long-term, win-win arrangement about which the players won’t have remorse in four years, but Goodell’s op-ed and other public communications contain idealism without concrete ideas.

Yes, the league wants to reel in the windfall given to unproven rookie players.  But when the proposal sweeps far more broadly than the perceived problem, that’s not a real solution.

Yes, the league wants to address fan concerns about the quality of the preseason.  But when improving the preseason automatically entails expanding the regular season in the face of widespread evidence that the fans don’t want a bigger regular season and almost uniform agreement from experts and commentators that adding two games would be a mistake, that’s not the right solution.

Yes, the league believes the current formula for sharing $9 billion in revenue doesn’t work.  But when the league refuses to provide detailed information regarding profits for the 31 teams that aren’t publicly owned, it’s hard not to think that the owners simply believe they’re paying the players too much money and that the league wants to take some of it back.

We like and we admire Commissioner Goodell.  He has a passion for the game, and it seems like he “gets it.”  Still, we have to remember that, while he represents all stakeholders in the game, he’ll go the way of Fay Vincent if he doesn’t take care of the people who hired him.

The people who hired him believe that they hold all the cards.  They think that the players eventually will cave and that the owners will get what they want.  They also think that the fans will tolerate whatever indignity is visited upon us without ever turning on the game.

They may be right, on both counts.  But that doesn’t mean that we as fans should sit by and watch the custodians of the game risk irreparable damage to it.

So make yourselves heard, in the comments section of sites like PFT and  Also, call or write the league office and/or NFLPA headquarters and urge the two sides to act like partners, not enemies, and to quit dragging their feet and get to work on working out a deal that will preserve not only the regular season but also the most robust and intriguing offseason in all of sports.

If tactics like that get the attention of politicians, they should get the attention of the league and the union, too.

Both sides assume that the fans will be spectators in this latest episode of the ultimate reality show.  So throw them a curve ball and be participants.  Otherwise, the league and the union will continue to assume that, once they finally find a way to work our their many differences, we’ll all still be there, like sheepdogs with our cold, wet noses pressed against the living-room window.

75 responses to “Goodell says “the time has come to make a deal”

  1. Goodell should go get the deal done instead of writing about getting the deal done. This op ed comes off to me like a tactic, and not progress for a deal getting done!! 🙁

  2. Hey, what’s the rush? We’ve got a whole two and a half weeks to get this thing wrapped up, right?

  3. While I agree that the league is acting like a bunch of jerks right now…I’m pretty sure that scrub teams would be assembled (as they have done in the past)… to say that football would be “taken away” is a little misleading.

  4. You know something, Mike?

    I love pro football. For some reason, I love the Texans. And like you, I write about it a great deal.

    But I can live without football. It wouldn’t be great, but life would go on. As an older man now with various personal and professional pursuits, there are plenty of other things to occupy my time.

    My ambivalence towards this CBA negotiation is already alarming. I think the league and players union would be wise to get the pulse of the fans, and understand the severe risk they will place the game in, if they can’t work out a deal.

    The players and owners will be fine in the end, but the byproducts of a lockout or strike will trickle down to those who also support the game. The concession workers, security, administrative staffs, etc… People like the fans. Those are the one who will truly suffer. People we can relate to.

    College football plays the same season as the NFL, we’ll have football somehow. Maybe it will take a work-stoppage for the league to once again understand they aren’t immune to the perils that come from alienating those who make their jobs possible. Maybe not.

    All I know is, life will go on, and the longer this rhetoric and back and forth persists, the stronger I tune out.

  5. Just more lip-service from Goodell. I was a HUGE fan of this guy until I realized what a moron he is… Not to mention a complete phony.

  6. I hope the league wins, NOT because I like the league or the owners. I just don’t want the NFL to have a Yankees/Red Sox situation like in the MLB.
    Increase revenue sharing, Reduce the salary cap number, increase the team salary minimum, create a rookie cap, and pay the vets more and go to a 58/42 spilt with the first 1.3 billion going to the teams.

  7. An idea for increasing the league’s gross revenue: Broadcast the negotiations and mudslinging during prime time on ESPN and network TV. It would be fun, just like the draft and combine, and give us some off-season football exposure.

  8. PFT will weep when a deal is made. They won’t be able to continue with the doom and gloom articles.

  9. The time has come to make a deal….no kidding Roger! We could have told you that quite a long time ago. Now let’s hope the two sides actually listen, though unfortunately I am not that hopeful

  10. Goodell is the son of a politician = enough said
    De. Smith was a trial & litigation lawyer… neither have any stake in football…
    I”m getting sick to my stomach with ALL SPORTS… could you imagine a FULL year of NO SPORTS, all 4 major sports take a year off, it might hurt at 1st, but after that inital sting, imagine what life might be like, imagine, spending time with family, going outside to enjoy the weather, honey do projects around the house, etc… go to the lake, or beach,,,,

  11. “If tactics like that get the attention of politicians, they should get the attention of the league and the union, too.”

    So, why didn’t you include the phone numbers and addresses of the league office and NFLPA HQ? If you’re going to try to “rally the troops”, then go all the way.

  12. Somewhere in Los Angeles Michael Avenatti popped the cork on a bottle of chilled Cristal when he opened up PFT and saw this headline, then smashed the bottle against the wall when he read further and realized Goodell was talking about the CBA.

  13. “The league wants to do a deal, on the league’s terms. Or else the league will take the game away from the players — and from the fans.”

    Owners: Open the books if you have nothing to hide!

  14. If the 2011 season gets cancelled, the league should consider asking Al Davis to do a live presser each week to keep the fans engaged. That would be good stuff.

  15. Owners plead poverty … yet refuse to open their books, with the exception of the World Champion Green Bay Packers.

    Something here stinks … and it ain’t the Packers.

    Why won’t they open the books? Don’t the owners claim to be in partnership with the players? How can they discuss a fair deal when all the cards are not on the table?

    Also, let’s compare what each owner paid for their franchise when they initially made their purchase … and what the estimated value of each franchise currently is. I’ll bet they’re all way ahead!

    Come on millionaires! Open your books and prove to us football fans that you are in dire straights! I have yet to hear a rational explanation as to why this cannot be done.

    Come on owners! Open the books! Plead poverty if you’d like … but until you do:


  16. The pendulum has swung too far in the players’ direction – and it is long past time for a correction.

    Say what you will about how much support there is for expanding the regular season; but there is not a football fan on this planet who wants to see a contraction in the number of teams, which is certain to occur if teams go bankrupt en masse, as they did 80 years ago.

    And not for nothing, but when the NFL moved from a 14-game regular-season, six-game exhibition format to 16 and four respectively in 1978, did the union even have any say in the matter whatsoever?

    The union is being impudent and arrogant.

    This 40-year-long NFL (and Philadelphia Eagles) fan stands with the owners all the way.

  17. Seriously, the NFL has become just another bad reality show with more off-the-field “drama” than on-the-field action. Maybe they can make the next Hard Knocks series about these negotiations.

  18. Why does a bunch of privately owned teams need to open their books to a bunch of players?

    Quit bickering, getting “leverage” in the press for your side, not meeting to discuss a deal, and annoying fans by the discussions, and play some football!!

  19. I am sorry but DeMaurice Smith and Roger Goodell should have never let it get this far. When I look at their photographs I see the faces of stupidity and greed. The NFLPA has little leverage and the League wants to prove it. So I guess the real question is – how far will Smith take this? To a lockout or decertification? How much will the NFLPA members lose then? Oh I forgot they are doing this for future players or was it for the good of the game?

  20. NFL fans are so addicted to the product that it will provide lots of leverage for the league to paint the players as the ones taking away their football. Fans, while not clamouring for jobs, an end to mortgage foreclosures or high food and gas prices could take to the streets Egypt-style to demand a resolution and CBA before the start of the 2011 season.

  21. In regards to the rookie wage scale:

    Teams pay rookies outrageous monies for the rights of first refusal in case that rookie later becomes a superstud.

    I don’t understand why the union is throwing its youngest players under the bus like that. Guys who are achieving exactly what the union wants players to achieve. Up front money.

    As in all labor disputes both sides suck. Just play the damn game.

  22. Do NOT forget the parable about the goose that laid the golden egg.

    In this case GEESE, aka FANS – there is a point at which we say “enough”, because it’s OUR money you’re talking about.

  23. norvturnersneck,

    The owners need to open their books because the jist of their argument is “we can’t afford to pay you the same amount anymore.”

    The players say, “prove it.”

    The owners say, “trust us.”

    They don’t need to open their books publically. They need to open them to the union. Just like every other business who claims their union employees need a pay cut. And you know what happens when they do that… the union agrees to a pay cut.

  24. Okay… so if the players went on strike the owners would hire replacements.

    Thats cool with me, bring out Shane Falco.

    But the players won’t go on strike (for that very reason) so if the owners lock out the players would the players have the option of forming their own league?

  25. When in the history of labor has a business opened their books for a union? The idea that it is necessary is absurd and you advocating it makes you look naive.

    A pox on both their houses!

  26. The NFL can kiss my *ss over this mess.

    Good luck to all the law enforcement officers who’ll have to deal with the inmates when the asylum locks them out.

    Have loved the NFL for years but, really? The fat pig wants to get fatter? And I mean all involved, not just one side or the other.

    There are countless things in life to enjoy here in New England in the late Summer and Fall.

    In the immortal words of Kramer, “I’m out”.

  27. All of the public posturing is really whats getting annoying at this point. What shocks me more than anything is the pure ignorance of many posters that believe privately owned and operated companies somehow have to be forced to open their books to their employees and the public. They have no legal obligation to do so and I applaud them to sticking to their guns. It is a matter of principle at this point. Employees, yes they are employees not partners, do not have the authority to demand these things. In this world we live in, it is pathetic to see people cry and whine about stuff like this.

    I would think that even though we watch football to see the players, many of us would watch Shane Falco tear it up for our favorite teams. Sooner or later in fact we would forget about many of the guys who play in the NFL right now. As a fan of a team, my loyalty is to that team. I would root for them if they put a bunch of high schoolers on the field. So I say to the owners, lock ’em out. For far too long professional athletes have been spoiled off the idea that they deserve millions for doing what every single one of us would do for free. There is no obligation for the owners to use these particular players. Let them try and find real jobs. They will come running back begging for their jobs and the owners know this.

    I know we live in a time where politicians and the media want you to hate big business and think they are evil. The fact is they aren’t. In this particular situation think about how many people have jobs because of football teams (owners). Think about how much money cities pull in during the football season from hotels, food and extra purchases that normally wouldn’t be there. The players are going to cause that to come to a halt. While the owners are certainly demanding some things as well, it’s THEIR company. As long as they follow all labor laws and practice proper hiring practices they can do as they please. Imagine how many UFL, AFL and UFL players would flock to the NFL if these union thugs were forced out due to their loyalty to the union. I can’t help but think that the talent would be there for some exciting football. Give it two years and we would forget about the current players. Chances are, they would forget about it too.

  28. In further regard to the rookie wage scale: It’s a way to direct the necessary cost savings onto players who aren’t even in the NFL yet, so that current players are not affected (or are affected as little as possible).

    Essentially the same thing is going on in the world at large – especially with government workers, whose new hires cannot expect to realize the same pension benefits etc., their older colleagues enjoy.

    No one takes any delight in this; but times change, and organizations, be they sports leagues or state governments, must change with them.

  29. Amen to that. My wife and I look forward to watching football all year long and it will be a cold winter if there is no football next season.

  30. Note to Owners: Stop building $1+ billion stadiums and you won’t have any issue of money. Why do you NEED a new stadium? You don’t. It’s like a new car. You don’t need one, you’re just tired of the old one. Minnesota is the exception for the obvious reason.

    Goodell, are you really trying to argue that we need a new deal to support innovation and growth? Uh, under the current deal we have, we’ve experienced the greatest period of growth and innovation the league has seen.

  31. This is getting old!!! At the end of the day…owners and players still freakin rich. It kills me to sit and watch them argue about money most of us won’t see in a lifetime. Here is a idea…the billion dollars both sides apart on…send it to me and some other poor person and see if we fight over who gets what.

  32. Can someone please explain were Goodell fits into this negotiation process? From my understanding he is just a mediator between the players union and the owners? I don’t really understand how he has any real effect besides being a figure head for the NFL?

  33. I’m with the owners. The players can play or not but the game will be around. People will watch when the replacements are in there and I bet after one season the league gets what it wants and the players come crawling back.

  34. Another pro-player article on the labor situation in the NFL by PFT. The only surprising thing is you somehow missed taking a shot at Jerry Jones.

  35. I have no profound comments to share, but a query . . . has ‘BadSell’ ever produced any soure or evidence for the “public wants 18 games” mantra or is this the usual move of, if you repeat the lie often enough, it becomes the truth . . .

  36. I Love Football, have every game every year, and follow the games intensely. BUT, if if the League and Players disregard the fans, and a lockout develops which interrupts the “fans” game, unfortunately we sports lovers will find something else to watch and do and be pretty mad about the greedy parties, and most will probably hold a grudge unfortunately. It is a shame when a sport loses its focus on the game and turns the focus to money. Greed kills everything in due time. The League, the owners, and the players all make more money than any normal person could possibly understand or be blessed with. Appreciate what you have, make a fair deal and move on with the game at hand.

  37. I say to hell with the owners and players. The fans need to go on strike, don’t renew season tickets, don’t go to the games and don’t buy the merchandise, but in all reality I know this will never happen.

  38. I’ll admit, I am worried about a lockout but I hadn’t really followed the details of the lockout like I wanted to or should have. However, I would love to know more without feeling like I needed to be on either side. Articles like this make me feel like I need to side with the players. I have yet to read an article on PFT that wasn’t bias to the players, maybe I missed it, but I hadn’t seen it. I would like to know just the unbiased facts of this issue. Not from Goodell, Owners, Players, D Smith and definitely not from PFT.

  39. abr173rd says: Feb 16, 2011 8:46 AM

    “Can someone please explain were Goodell fits into this negotiation process?”

    Easy. Even though he’s trying to appear impartial in the press, at the end of the day he’s just the owner’s puppet.

  40. @ dequan

    As an 8-hour a-day, F5 every 2 minute, follower of this website there has not been a single post that has supported the owners. There really hasn’t even been one that has even tried to explain the position of the owners either. It’s sad.

  41. Attorneys, attorneys, attorneys. Aint they special ? Congress, the Senate and White House are full of attorneys, hows that working out? I dont see the NFL, having a gaggle of attorneys, who have the fans at heart, or the game of football for that matter. I follow the NFL now for only the WWF excitement of “what are those idiots going to do next”. The sports media types, PFT included, dont know squat about the game of football cause they have never played the game. I hope the NFL locks out the players. I hope we have 6-8 months of NO NFL, the fans will come to their collective senses and will no longer pay gobs of money to sit in a cramped seat for 4 hrs to watch multi-millionares play for multi-billionares. I can live without this crap. My bay boat runs dailey to the Islands to hunt redfish and snook. Get a life.

  42. Roger Goodell out of the left side of his mouth:

    “We need an agreement that both sides can live with and obtain what they need, not simply what they want.”

    Roger Goodell out of the right side of his mouth:

    “We need new stadiums in Los Angeles, Minneapolis, San Francisco, Oakland and San Diego”

    Why does the league “need” a stadium in Los Angeles, Roger? Is there a team there I don’t know about? L.A. has already run two NFL teams out of town and they have clearly demonstrated that they don’t care about the NFL. Good for them.

    If you had any influence or if you were serious, you would get all of the hotheads on both sides out of the room and force them to accept mediation instead of writing op-ed pieces.

  43. FoozieGrooler says: Feb 16, 2011 10:18 AM

    chapnastier says: Feb 16, 2011 9:47 AM

    “There really hasn’t even been one that has even tried to explain the position of the owners either. It’s sad.”

    Then Google: The NFL Lockout Handbook

    Clearly, the owners are 1000% responsible for this mess.

  44. Lets apply some critical thinking here and talk about vested interest of parties, specifically PFT – the so called neutral party in all this.

    PFT has a vested interest in there being no lockout, especially an extended one. PFT is a site that like many is driven by page views. So what happens if football goes away, especially for an extended period? Just like PFT has been hammering about fan interest dropping, those page views would plummet. Ad driven revenue would fall. The NBC corporate overlords would NOT be happy as football is the only thing that keeps PFT going.

    Just keep this in mind as you read all these “neutral” articles that slant more and more against the owners or supposedly tell you how fans feel as we get closer to the lockout date. Everyone has an agenda in this – the owners, the union and the football driven media – especially media like PFT that only covers football. It is important to keep that in mind when you are judging the accuracy and intent of anything you read.

  45. chief4ever says:
    Feb 16, 2011 9:39 AM
    I say to hell with the owners and players. The fans need to go on strike, don’t renew season tickets, don’t go to the games and don’t buy the merchandise, but in all reality I know this will never happen.

    If I’m not mistaken, Bengals fans have been trying to do this for years!

  46. Mike, I actually liked your article until you came to the part about GODdell, saying how he has a “passion” for the game, & how he “gets it” … you certainly can’t be referring to his continued insistence that the fans “want an 18 game season”, when most fans seem to understand the risks of an 18 game season & don’t want it, don’t see his “passion” for the game either. He’s nothing more than a PR hack in a suit, for the Owners, & we’ll see how much he “gets it” IF fans have to endure a lockout that threatens the start of the season. Paul Taglibue was a guy who got things done, & would have never let things get to this point, … I realize you have to kiss up to the guy, because of NBCs relationship with the NFL, but the league would be a lot better off IF they FIRED GODdell, … as much as I don’t care for Bud Selig, GODdell makes him look like Pete Rozelle by comparison.

  47. Billionaires in a dispute with millionaires. Don’t you feel sorry for them all. Only $9,000,000 to share. How will they ever survive on such a paltry amount of money.

    Looks like the NFL is about do what MLB did to itself. Shoot itself in the foot over greed. MLB never recovered from its World Series strike and the NFL will never recover from skipped 2011 season.

    If the owners think the players are making to much money…stop offering those ridiculous contract packages…I mean geeze.

    So a player is suppose to tell some billionaire that the player thinks he is being paid too much and offer to play to for less money since the billionaire is stupid and can’t control his money….are you serious?

    I have no sympathy for either side, and nothing but contempt for the arrogant greedy billionaires.

    College football…I am coming back to you baby.

  48. YOU may like and admire Roggy Goodell, the little senator’s boy who was given everything he wanted because his daddy was in Washington D.C. living off the fat of the land (the citizens of the US), but the rest of us FOOTBALL fans would like nothing better than to see little Roggy dumped into a steaming pile of crap, which, by the way, is what little Roggy is anyway. This creep that you “like and admire” is runing our favorite sport, whether you are intelligent enough to see that or not.

  49. The last time they had the lockout years, I boycotted football for 5 seasons.

    If they do it again, I’m gone, I won’t waste my time watching a game again. Not the SB, nothing…

  50. “Also, call or write the league office and/or NFLPA headquarters and urge the two sides to act like partners, not enemies”

    Why don’t you make it easier for people to do this and publish the addresses and phone numbers?

  51. No way the exhibition season gets shortened without the regular season being lengthened. Half the teams would go bankrupt.

    And how come the players in the CFL have never kvetched about their 18-game schedule, which they have maintained for decades – nor was it at all controversial when the USFL played 18 games?

    Besides, 18 games means more parity because the two new games would match first-place teams from the previous season against other first-place teams, and last-place teams against other last-place teams, by means of adding two inter-conference games to each team’s schedule; and it would also give teams that get off to slow starts more hope – no team in NFL history has ever so much as made it to a conference championship game after starting 0-3, and only one team that has started a season with two losses, both at home, has ever made the playoffs in a non-strike year (the Eagles in 2003).

    And to all of you who are whining about “greed”: The Cold War is over – and your side lost. Get over it.

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