Steelers President Art Rooney II "played a significant role in carving out not only a new collective bargaining agreement in the NFL, but helped to create a new revenue-sharing plan among the league's 32 owners that proved to be an important step toward labor peace with its players for the next 10 years," according to Ed Bouchette of the PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said, "He's someone who is going to continue the Rooney legacy of doing what's best for the league overall in ensuring the league stays competitive in small markets as well as large markets." Goodell added, "Art played a very important role in the discussion on revenue sharing, internally with the ownership. He is a very strong proponent in doing what's best for the league, making sure 32 teams have the ability to compete, including small markets; it's what makes the NFL special" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 7/28). In San Diego, Nick Canepa notes Goodell also "heaped praise" on Chargers President & CEO Dean Spanos, who was "in the majority of meetings over the 2 1/2 months leading up to the agreement." Goodell said, "He had a huge impact. He doesn't do a lot of talking." Goodell added, "Dean was particularly good on the challenges of getting stadiums built, particularly the challenges in California. This is important to our future, the players and the NFL, and we're determined to find a solution." Asked if he was concerned about his popularity, Goodell replied, "No. My job is to get an agreement that works for everybody: the fans and all parties." He added, "Anytime you have a dispute, you're going to have issues. We worked very effectively with the players and they did an extraordinary job with their passion and understanding the issues. I have great respect for the players" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 7/29).
BROTHERLY LOVE? In N.Y., William Rhoden writes the NFLPA "gave owners the pound of flesh they wanted by effectively selling out their little brothers," and veterans "must now look rookies in the eye in training camp and explain how they could do such a thing." Rhoden: "There was one seat left on the bus and the veterans snatched it." Late NFLPA Exec Dir Gene Upshaw once said that he "did not represent retired players," and current NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith "is all but saying he does not represent rookies." Rhoden writes, "But hey, we have a deal and a season and no one misses any money -- except the rookies. ... Someone had to be sacrificed for this deal, and the veteran players sacrificed their younger brothers" (N.Y. TIMES, 7/29). Meanwhile, in N.Y., Phil Mushnick writes, "Think it's just coincidence that the NFL and NFL Players Association settled in time to ensure that there'd be a full preseason game schedule, just in time to again force ticket holders to buy preseason games at regular-season prices?" (N.Y. POST, 7/29).