Commish calls in with Seahawks' season-ticket holders
Posted by Danny O'Neil
The call was moderated by Steve Raible, former Seahawks and current play-by-play announcer. The commissioner answered questions for 30 minutes, and while he didn't have a ready-made fix the frustration fans are feeling in the midst of the NFL's first work stoppage since 1987, he didn't duck those questions, either.
"There's no one here that wants to play football more than I do other than our 32 clubs," Goodell said. "That's what they got into this for."
He emphasized that a resolution is in everyone's best interest.
"We have made it very clear, the longer this goes on, the more damage is done to the game," Goodell said. "I understand exactly the frustration you're going through."
The stakes are clear, the solutions are not. Goodell emphasized that a solution to the current impasse will come through negotiation, and not the litigation.
Here are the answers Goodell provided:
• No replacement players: Goodell said that the use of replacement players is not something that has been discussed as a strategy by the owners.
• He did not rule out future Super Bowl for Seattle: Goodell hardly promised one either, pointing out the infrastructure requirements are significant -- 30,000 hotel rooms -- and that hosting a Super Bowl is subject to a bid process.
• Expansion: Goodell said he sees room for the game to grow, but not necessarily by expanding the number of teams. An 18-game schedule and international opportunities were two things he mentioned.
• Possibility of using 'Final Eight' rule: This is something that could especially concern the Seahawks and the other eight teams that reached the Divisional Playoffs. Last year -- under the rules of the uncapped season -- teams that reached the Divisional Playoffs were restricted in the timing and money that could be paid to free agents from other teams. Goodell pointed out that those were rules specific to the uncapped year, said the hope is to be back to a salary-cap system. What Goodell did not address is the possibility that the league could be ordered to enjoin the lockout at which point it would be up to the league to put rules in place. One possibility that has been mentioned is to use those rules from the 2010 season to govern the 2011 season.
The most interesting discussion came in the final three questions of the conference call. First, Christopher in Tacoma, said that he hoped the NFL would look at the bigger picture, and realize that to get something you have to give something. Christopher that ultimately, he's sitting in the stands to watch the players, and if the league has to end up giving a little more to the players, that will dictate what it gets back from the people who pay to watch those players.
Goodell emphasized the league is very much looking at the big picture, and he pointed to the offer the owners made on the final day of mediation before the NFL Players Association decertified.
"The owners made what I think is a very fair proposal," Goodell said, then stating it called for a 14-percent increase in compensation over the next three years.
"That's pretty signicant for people, including people who are sitting in the stands," Goodell said in reference to the increase.
But he agreed with Christopher's premise entirely.
"Your core principle, if we all give a little, we can all get a lot, and that's what we need to do," Goodell said.
Then Byron from Bellevue -- a Seahawks season-ticket holder since 1976 -- asked whether it was possible to simply go back to the 2010 rules in lieu of a new agreement so the fans could be assured of having football.
The commissioner didn't say, "No," but his answer did not directly address the question, instead moving to decry the litigation tactic the players are using with the anti-trust suit, which attacks everything from the draft to the rules of free agency and other elements that create the competitive balance of the league. Goodell presented himself as a defender of those elements that he feels create that competitive balance.
"I'm not going to relent on that," he said.
What the commissioner did not point out was that it was the owners who opted out of the collective-bargaining agreement early, and the owners who are seeking to change the terms of that working relationship.
We took to Twitter to ask for reaction to those who listened, and here's a sampling of the responses:
@dannyoneil He fails to say, OWNERS back out EARLY from current contract and are now blaming the players.
@dannyoneil The longer this has gone on the more Goodell sounds like a spokesperson for the owners. Fans see both sides. Don't propagandize.
@dannyoneil No new info there. Just the same posturing we have heard from both sides for months. But nice of him to do calls like this
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