Commissioner Roger Goodell addressed the media today following a meeting of NFL owners and club executives at the Westin O’Hare hotel in Chicago, Illinois.
Following is a transcript of the Commissioner’s press conference:
COMMISSIONER ROGER GOODELL
NFL OWNERS MEETING MEDIA BRIEFING
June 21, 2011
We just finished a several hour session with our ownership obviously. It was a good session. We had a full discussion. Labor was the only item we discussed today. We went through it in great detail with our ownership so they’re up to speed on the issues and get their input. I must apologize to you in advance that there are several question I will not be able to answer. As you know, we are under orders from the magistrate with respect to our discussions. We’re going to respect that of course and respect the players in the process. I am happy to try to answer any question you have.
On how optimistic you are at this point in the process:
Well I can answer it this way; I think it’s a tremendous positive that the principals are talking. Players and owners are talking to one another and negotiating, and I think that’s a positive step. Hopefully we’ll all be successful in reaching an agreement that’s fair and balanced for everybody.
On there being much discussion in the meeting among the owners:
You’ve never been in an owners meeting before…listen I’ve said it before I think anytime you’re dealing with the NFL and the 32 clubs with 1,800 players, you’re going to have different perspectives and different elements that people might not see eye to eye on. But I think the objective is to get something that works for everybody. It’s not what everybody wants, it’s what everybody needs to reach an agreement that’s fair and balanced and is going to work to make our game better and to continue to grow our game.
On what was discussed in the negotiating sessions:
Well again I’m not going to get into specifics of our negotiating session but obviously we went through everything with our clubs. Training camp, off-season issues – they’re all important issues to both the players and to the clubs, their health and safety remains the number one priority for us. Those things have been discussed and will continue to be discussed.
On having authority from owners to complete a deal:
We’ve done a terrific job – meaning the CEC – which is a representative of 10 clubs and our staff – of keeping our ownership informed. We identified the priorities together, the objectives together and the negotiations have gone in such a ways that they have been fully informed at every step. That’s the way it should go. I believe they’re fully informed and hopefully all of us will continue to work hard and get something to bring back to the ownership and they’ll bring back to their players.
On there being a consensus on what will happen next:
That might be a little deceiving in terms of a consensus because we don’t have an agreement. I think we have a very strong view of the priorities and a very strong view of what we need to continue to accomplish during the negotiations and a determination to get there. The ownership is unified on that basis.
Can you give us an idea if you came into this meeting knowing what it would take from the players to get a deal done?
No, it would not be fair to say that. We’re in the midst of a negotiation.
Do you have any better idea of what will happen with training camp, preseason and then with the Hall of Fame Game?
When I know you’ll know I promise.
Do you think that meeting for about 5 hours and then the fact that owners have been warned that they may have to stay over to the next day that that’s a good sign?
You’re reading far too much into that. The only subject we raised today were the labor issues. We obviously could have raised other issues but we thought it best to keep it completely focused on the labor issues.
Will you be meeting again with the players and the trade association?
I didn’t say that. . .we’ve done a very good job of keeping our meetings focused on issues and not distractions and we’re going to try to continue to try to do it in a confidential and professional way.
What is your level of confidence that you will be able to accomplish an agreement?
We’ve got a lot of work to do and we’ve got to do it right. The agreement that we’re focusing on and negotiating has got to address several issues. Those issues are complex and it needs to be done in a way that is fair to the players, fair to the clubs, and most importantly allows us to continue to have that full 2011 football season. That’s what we want, that’s what the fans want, they want football and it’s our job to try to make that happen.
Do the players share the same commitment to getting an agreement to play a full 2011 season?
Yes, I think they do, yes.
Is there a point that you get to over the course of the next 2 months where there is a breakdown and you say you know what we can’t play a full season if we get to this point. Is that sometimes in late July or mid July if you haven’t gotten a deal?
Is there a drop dead date? There isn’t but obviously, time is moving quickly and we are fast approaching the training camp period. There is an urgency for everybody to get this done.
On reflecting on the process:
I hadn’t had much of a chance to sort of reflect. I’m not sure it’s productive for me to reflect. At this point in time I think we are focused on how we get to an agreement and what we can do to address the remaining issues in a productive way. At some point I’ll have a chance to reflect on different stages of the negotiation. The good news here is that the principles are talking. I think both sides are working to try to reach an agreement.
On process of owners voting:
There’s a lot to be done. Obviously you’d want to have the agreement fully negotiated and reflected in the documents. Secondly, you’d have to go to the various bodies, the players and there is some litigation involved with this also as you know that would have to get resolved also. Those steps would have to take place and would be done on an expedited basis as possible.
On potential framework and if owners have a better understanding of it today:
I think the ownership has a better understanding of the framework and I think we have a better understanding of the various issues and priorities within the membership. Obviously, we are negotiating with the players and the Players Association and that’s what we’ll resume doing.
On meeting with Carl Eller:
We did meet with Carl for about an hour this morning with three owners and a fourth came in later. Carl came in and as you know we’ve had various retired players address the full ownership. We had a good opportunity to speak to Carl today about his priorities and his objective.
On if things are going well and if the meetings were “somber:”
We just got done with 5 hours of owners meeting. It was a good day in the sense that we had a full discussion on the issues and I think our ownership continues to be determined to reach an agreement and play that full season. They are united. They believe that in the best interest of the game we need to correct various aspects of collective bargaining. Everyone’s determined to try to get that done and still have the full 2011 season.
On what he would say to fans who are getting anxious about the start of the season:
There’s no question. I speak to fans all the time and the anxiety level is very high. I think the best thing I can tell them at this stage is we’re working as hard as we possibly can and we’ll go the extra mile to try to reach that agreement. We know how important football is to fans, and we want to deliver on that.
On the federal court issuing a ruling:
We don’t anticipate there will be a federal court oversight.
On why the league called an owners meeting today and whether there was a gap among the owners:
We’re negotiating with the players, not with ourselves.
I don’t think there was a gap in the first place. I think our ownership understood the issues. We were just bringing them up to speed, getting their input, and getting to the point where they’re fully aware of what’s transpired over the last several weeks. That’s our responsibility and ultimately they’ll have to vote on this agreement.
On future meetings between the owners and players:
We would hope to increase the frequency of these. We did not address that today, but yes, we would hope to increase the frequency of those meetings.
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