SBD/Issue 152/Leagues & Governing Bodies

DeMaurice Smith, Goodell Discuss CBA Talks In Joint TV Interview

Goodell (c), Smith (r) Discuss Upcoming CBA
Talks With NFL Network's Rich Eisen
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and newly-elected NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith Saturday sat down for their first joint TV interview, and Goodell said the two have "already met a few times" to discuss a new CBA and will start "more formal negotiations in the next several weeks." Goodell noted Smith is "going to go out, spend some time talking to some of the players and some of the teams and we hope to sit down in the next few weeks." Smith said, "Our players want to play, our owners want to play. I know Roger wants to play. ... We're going to sit down and chat and we'll get a deal." More Smith: "One of the things that we are interested in is anytime that we move into a new deal and people are interested in the full fairness of the deal, they want to see the audited financial statements, they want to know if the teams are doing well. ... I come from a world where if you share that information, you get a heck of a lot closer to making a deal and that's something that I'm sure we're going to chat about." Goodell in response said, "They know 60% of our costs go to the players, so if there's other information that's necessary to help us through, we've talked about the analysis on an extended season. That's something we want to share. We want to share information so they can make better decisions and we can reach an agreement." Meanwhile, Smith added the NFLPA wants to discuss the potential expanded regular-season schedule, and said, "I'm happy that the commissioner and the league wants to talk about that." When asked how extra games would affect player safety, Goodell said, "We're staying within the 20-game format. Any changes that we would make, there would be a reduction in the number of preseason games. I recognize that the players aren't playing in the preseason that fans want to see and that's part of the problem. The preseason isn't as attractive to our fans and in this kind of environment, we have to do everything we can to improve the quality of what we do" (NFL Network, 4/25).  

Smith Says NFLPA Needs Full
Disclosure Of League's Finances
READY FOR BATTLE: Smith Friday at a news conference said that the NFLPA "needs full and transparent disclosure of the league's finances before any talks would be productive." But Goodell responded, "The players know where every penny we made in the league is ... through an independent audit. They know the cost side, that 60[%] of that goes to the players. On the other side, the stadium constructions, they participate in that, so they know that. We've shared information with them." Smith, who will begin a two-month series of meetings with NFL players this week, also argued that the NFL "already has a rookie wage scale -- something Goodell believes does not exist, but needs to implement." Smith argued that less than 4% of the "monies dedicated to salaries goes to rookies," but Goodell pointed out that $600M, including $400M in guaranteed money, will be given to the 32 first-round picks from this year's draft. Goodell: "Something is broken. We want the player who has performed on the NFL level to be compensated" (AP, 4/24). In Boston, Ron Borges wrote Smith is a "firm believer in respectful discourse, minimal table-banging and reasonable negotiations, but he’s also a believer in a trust-but-verify approach, which seems to mean he and NFL management are on a collision course about the idea of teams opening their books if they want to claim revenue shortfalls." Smith: "There has never been a significant deal done with due diligence that I was involved with where everyone didn’t trade data. What company doesn’t do that information sharing, if they want to make a deal?" (BOSTON HERALD, 4/25).

STAYING PUT: Smith Friday also said that he has "no intention of walking away from his new job, even though he has been working without a contract and he and the union are believed to be far apart on salary and length-of-contract demands." Smith: "I'm not going anywhere. I've got a job to do" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/25).

ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN: Goodell Friday indicated that he "can envision a Super Bowl played in mid-February if the league expands its regular-season schedule to 17 or 18 games." The AP's Barry Wilner reported team owners are "expected to get a proposal, perhaps as soon as next month, that would eliminate two preseason games and add one or two to the regular schedule." Goodell noted that such a format change "could push the Super Bowl back to President's weekend." Wilner noted a Super Bowl in mid-February "could conflict with such other events as the Daytona 500, the NBA All-Star Game and, every four years, the Winter Olympics." Goodell Friday outlined a potential scenario that would see "two preseason games in August, followed by a dark week on Labor Day weekend, followed by the opening week." Each team still would have a bye during the regular season, and there would continue to be a week off between the conference championships and the Super Bowl (AP, 4/24).

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