NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell yesterday said that the league still does not have a date by which the status of the Hall of Fame game and other preseason games would be in jeopardy, but said, “Obviously that time is coming.” Goodell, speaking at the conclusion of the owners meetings in Indianapolis, noted the cancelation of the league’s rookie symposium and said, “We’re getting close enough now where those will have to be considerations” (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 5/25). Goodell stressed that the league's "intent is to play a 16-game season." He said, "That is fully our intention. We spent the last two days making plans including going through our Kickoff and 9/11 plans with our clubs. We are approaching the 2011 season as we would any other season as far as making plans. That is our intention." Asked about having a backup plan while planning for next season, Goodell laughed and said, "I would say we have contingency plans for our contingency plans." The annual HOF induction ceremony "will take place on Aug. 6 even if the lockout is still in place" (NYDAILYNEWS.com, 5/25). Giants President & CEO John Mara said, "Obviously, the closer we get, the more concerned you are. But we haven’t set a date. ... But I believe very strongly we’re going to have a 2011 season and there will be a Super Bowl in Indianapolis." Asked whether he is confident the NFL will have a 16-game regular season, Mara said, "Let's hope so" (WASHINGTON POST, 5/26). NFL Exec VP/Business Operations Eric Grubman: "We're not at an Armageddon date. We're not staring that in the face this week" (AP, 5/25).
HURTING FAN SUPPORT? Goodell during his address yesterday said that the NFL "is already feeling the financial effects" of the lockout. Goodell: "Clearly it has had an impact on our fans already. You see it in various metrics. There's been a noticeable change, TV ratings were down on the draft roughly 4 million people. NFL.com traffic (is down), we see that" (NEWSDAY, 5/26). Goodell added, "That is a reflection of the uncertainty and frustration of our fans" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 5/26). In Minneapolis, Mark Craig wrote the "question isn't how the fans feel now," but rather whether "they come back to their pre-lockout fanatical selves once the lockout ends." Craig: "The answer is Y-E-S. In droves. Even if games are cancelled, NFL fans will come back even stronger. ... If the NFL wasn't 100 percent confident of that, do you honestly think it would have taken the risk of locking out the players?" So while it is "distasteful that NFL owners are risking your loyalty, it's really your loyalty that's allowing them to do it" (STARTRIBUNE.com, 5/25).
NFL could expand rosters in an effort to
give rookies more time to get up to speed
PUT ON YOUR SUIT: CBSSPORTS.com's Will Brinson reports the NFL Coaches Association yesterday "became the newest party of interest to file an Amicus Brief with the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals." The NFLCA cited "numerous issues ... that the lockout would cause for coaches before urging the court to 'end the lockout.'" In the brief, the NFLCA noted that teams were "planning ahead when it came to how they wanted to pay their respective coaching staffs," an aspect of the coaching business that "hadn't really been made public up to this point." The brief includes a "reference to numerous coaches who are being particularly damaged by the lockout as a result of their inability to work with their new teams," though no individual coach is named (CBSSPORTS.com, 5/25).
STRATEGY BACKFIRING?: NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith said, "We don't make any apologies for seeking redress in the courts when someone does something to us. But what gets lost sometimes in the shuffle is that we’ve had over 70 negotiation sessions over two years” ("Tavis Smiley," PBS, 5/25). However, YAHOO SPORTS' Les Carpenter wrote under the header, "Decertification Was Failing Strategy By NFLPA." The blame for the lockout "should be shared equally." To blame the owners while "ignoring the NFLPA leaders’ behavior in the sandbox is misguided, for the NFLPA pushed this drive to the cliff in the final days of civility." A source said that the "message delivered by the players’ leadership was that the show of demanding the owners’ books had become too valuable a PR move to give up." Then, after "threatening to blow up the talks with decertification and lawsuits, they did just that -- leaving many to wonder if this is what they wanted to do all along" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 5/25).