NFL commissioner says league and union working hard to avoid work stoppage
With the NFL’s showcase game the Super Bowl coming up pretty soon, Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner, figured it was a good time to let fans know that the league and players’ union are working hard trying to reach an agreement regarding a new collective bargaining agreement.
The current contract expires after this season and many fans, owners, and players are worried that the 2011 season may not get underway if an agreement can’t be reached sometime soon. Goodell wrote an open letter to NFL sports fans on the leagues’ official website during the first week of January to reassure them that everything possible will be done to make sure football is played next season.
The commissioner said he knows the two sides can come to some sort of agreement and they will do so. But he also said that the players have to concede a few issues if the two sides are going to be able to work things out amicably. Still, he added that he’s confident the players will realize this.
Goodell said that NFL players are paid well and they deserve to be, but these are tough economic times and everybody has to tighten their belts to some degrees, including the players. Right now he said the main issues have to do with money, placing a salary cap on rookie salaries, and adding two more games to the NFL season, making it 18 games from the current 16.
The teams also play four pre-season games, but Goodell said the fans would rather see those contests scrapped in favour of more league games. He said the perfect balance would be two pre-season games followed by 18 regular-season games, which means the teams would still be playing a 20-game schedule each year. He believes this is what the fans want and it would mean more quality games. However, the players are concerned about playing two extra season games because they’re worried about the higher risk for injuries.
Goodell said the players’ health and welfare is always a top concern with the league office and pointed to the fact that more protective measures have been implemented into the game to provide players with more protection, especially when it comes to head injuries.
When it came to rookie salaries, Goodell stated that he has no problem with proven players receiving generous contracts, but is uncomfortable with the fact that so many unproven players are receiving exorbitant amounts of cash before even playing a single NFL game. He said that NFL clubs paid a total of $1.2 billion in 2009 to a total of 256 rookies and that $585 million of this was guaranteed to them before even stepping on the field. He said this goes against common sense.