Commissioner Goodell: “Mistake” to wait until last minute on CBA negotiations

Commissioner Roger Goodell spoke with Rich Eisen last night on NFL Network prior to the Ravens-Falcons game and discussed a variety of topics including labor negotiations and stricter enforcement of rules against illegal hits.

“A lot of negotiations wait until the 11:59 [mark],” Commissioner Goodell said. “I think that’s a mistake in this case. Uncertainty is bad for the game, it’s bad for the players; it’s bad for the fans. I think we need to reach an agreement sooner rather than later because it starts to hurt and impact the game and the fans.”

Following is a transcript of the Commissioner’s interview with Eisen.

On Ray Lewis’ comments regarding the fines given to players for illegal hits:

“I have great respect for Ray Lewis and the way he plays the game. He plays the game tough and within the rules and I speak to him frequently about these issues. I would tell you that we’re not automatically fining anybody. We look at this very closely. We are focused on certain techniques which we think could be dangerous in the game. This is not unusual in our history in the NFL; we have made changes going back to the ‘70s, ‘60s, and back further than that. To make the game safer, whether it’s the head slaps or chop blocks, you take out things that can lead to an injury and have an increased risk of that injury. And we’ll continue to do that. We’re not going to relent on making sure the game is as safe as possible.”

On the possibility of ejecting players during the game for illegal hits:

“No. The Competition Committee and the Membership is focused on that. We think it’s too much to put on the officials. They have the authority to be able to do it, they have for several years. We’re not making any changes to that. But we really think this needs to be studied. We need to look at the individual film that we get both from broadcast and coaching video, and look at it closely to make sure that we understand what the player was doing, exactly what technique he was using, and did he have another option to hit the player and then rip away.”

On why there isn’t publicly more urgency to reach a new CBA deal:

“I think there needs to be more of a sense of urgency. There are discussions going on. I think they have to be more productive though. It’s not just about whether you’re having meetings, it’s about productivity. We need to reach an agreement that will allow the players to continue to have success, to allow the teams to continue to have success, and to make the game better and bring more football to more fans.”

On the deadline to reach an agreement:

“A lot of negotiations wait until the 11:59 [mark], and I think that’s a mistake in this case. Uncertainty is bad for the game, it’s bad for the players; it’s bad for the fans. I think we need to reach an agreement sooner rather than later because it starts to hurt and impact the game and the fans.”

On if he anticipates a quick conclusion on the Jenn Sterger situation:

“I’m never pushed much by timelines. I think what you have to do is be fair, you have to try to get all the facts, and make a smart decision. I think what we need to do here is make sure we have all those facts from as many different sources as we can. I’ll get an update tomorrow.”

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