SBD/March 15, 2011/Franchises

NFL Lockout Watch, Day 4: Owners Reaching Out To Fans

Blank was one of several NFL owners reaching out to fans on Monday
On the first business day since the NFL locked out players on Saturday, several franchise owners and execs reached out to fans yesterday to discuss the league's ongoing labor turmoil. Broncos Owner Pat Bowlen in an open letter to fans wrote, "You have every right to be disappointed and frustrated with the lack of a collective bargaining agreement. As owner of the Denver Broncos and co-chair of the NFL Management Council Executive Committee, I want to say that I share your level of frustration. I am sorry the negotiating efforts have yet to yield a new deal" (DENVER POST, 3/15). Falcons Owner Arthur Blank in an open letter to fans, posted on the team's website, wrote in part, "The most important thing you should know is that we remain committed to reaching an agreement that is fair to both sides and does not disrupt the 2011 season. We negotiated in good faith with the NFLPA, and we are prepared to re-enter negotiations at any time" (AJC.com, 3/14). In a letter sent to Patriots season-ticket holders, Robert and Jonathan Kraft wrote, "We know that many Season Ticket Holders are feeling frustrated by our inability to finalize a deal with the players' union. We apologize for any role we played in that. Please know that we are working diligently to assure that NFL operations get back to 'normal' as soon as possible" (BOSTON.com, 3/14). Dolphins CEO Mike Dee in an open letter to the team's fans wrote, "We are fully aware that fans don’t care how owners and players manage their business and that this temporary stoppage only distracts and detracts from what is most important to us all: the game" (SUN-SENTINEL.com, 3/14).

BUSINESS AS USUAL: Browns President Mike Holmgren yesterday, during a press conference to address the labor situation, said, "It's going to be business as usual in the building for the Cleveland Browns' organization." The Browns are "preparing for the NFL Draft in late April, and they don't plan on laying off team employees or cutting the pay of assistant coaches." Holmgren: "Our philosophy is we're gonna keep people working. ... We have a lot of good people here working very, very hard doing their jobs, and we'll continue to do that." He added that "ticket holders will be refunded with interest if any Browns home games are canceled because of the labor situation" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 3/15). Bills CEO Russ Brandon also "reached out to season-ticket holders Monday by sending them a message aimed at easing their fears over the NFL's lockout of players." Brandon in a statement said, "Although the off-season has not kicked off in typical fashion, one constant is the Buffalo Bills commitment to our season ticket holders, business partners and fans. On March 28, we will hold our second annual premium seat-holder and sponsor 'State of the Bills' event, featuring coach [Chan] Gailey and GM Buddy Nix. We also are excited to host our annual Draft Day Party here at the Buffalo Bills Fieldhouse on April 28 and 29 for all of our season ticket holders" (BUFFALO NEWS, 3/15). The Titans in a letter to fans said that "season-ticket holders would be entitled to refunds or a credit in the event of canceled games." A team spokesperson said any decision on layoffs, pay cuts or furloughs is "between the team and its employees" (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 3/15).
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