Fooch's Update: Excerpts added after the jump. Audio and transcript coming tomorrow at noon pacific.
Big news came down from SB Nation today as the network was able to get a conference call in place with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL lead negotiator Jeff Pash. Commissioner Goodell has done some Q&A with SB Nation bloggers at the NFL Draft and Super Bowl, but this is the first direct one-on-one he's done with the network. It came together early today and I was unable to take part, but I've listened to it and there were some solid questions asked. The answers sometimes beat around the issue but we did get some solid responses at times. I had the audio but had to take it down for a little bit. My apologies for that. It will be up again sometime this afternoon but I'm not sure when.
The bloggers on the call asked plenty of labor questions, but also went beyond that with some stadium questions and also SB Nation access questions.The most pointed response came from Jeff Pash (I believe) in which he discussed the closing day of negotiations. Pash indicated the NFLPA was interested in only discussing the cap figures and not issues like pension, 18-game schedule, safety issues, drug testing, etc. I'm going to try and get an NFLPA response on that one as I'm curious what the players view is on that.
In regards to the stadium issues, Goodell acknowledged the financial issues and the importance of some form of the old G3 Fund. Additionally, he came off as very supportive of a shared 49ers-Raiders stadium. We'll see how that one plays out. When we hear about the one billion dollar credit the NFL wants taken off the top, we are talking about the chunk of money that would go towards things like the G3 Fund (or something like it) and apparently things like improving NFL.com and NFL Network. I'm not sure if that extra billion off the top would only go towards those things, but that would at least be part of it.
Again, we'll have audio and possibly a transcript of the call later this afternoon, but again I don't know when at this point.
After the jump I've got some excerpts that include the Commissioner addressing the rule changes related to kickoffs, a drop dead date before 2011 games are delayed, and Jeff Pash addresses some comments from Bengals owner Mike Brown.
On proposed rule changes - taking the kickoff out of the game as a competitive play and on suspensions for illegal hits - will they be handled case by case or will there be a system?
RG: As you know, the major focus we have when our competition committee meets and looks at our rules is player health and safety. We also meet with our players and our players have indicated to us that this is one of those players that they think we need to address from a safety standpoint. We have been looking at this for quite some time, monitoring it and the competition committee in their study of this, in order to try to make the game as safe as possible. Looking at changes to make that play safer. We look at injury rates. We look at everything that goes into the quality of our game Including the competitive aspects of it. We want to make this game safe. We want to make it exciting. And we obviously want to make it competitive. But the rules would be the same for all 32 clubs. But we will be making the judgment on this based on the competition committee's proposal and making the game as safe as possible.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on whether there is a firm date in which games in the 2011 season will be compromised:
"We do not have a firm date. We have been focused on negotiations and trying to find a resolution to this. Obviously the uncertainty of not having an agreement, we're int he midst of constructing our 2011 playing schedule. We have to ry to obviously plan for flexibility in that but we're planning on a full season, preparing for a ful lseason and we hope to be playing a full season."
NFL lead negotiator Jeff Pash on Bengals owner Mike Brown saying the players only care about the money:
"I don't know if many owners around the league feel but I think Mike was reflecting what he heard in the mediation session. Late Friday afternoon in responding to the comprehensive proposal we had made to them, they didn't want to talk about anything other than what the cap numbers were. They didn't want to talk about the healthy and safety improvements. They didn't want to talk about the rookie system. They didn't want to talk about benefits. They didn't want to talk about improved pensions for retired players. They didn't want to talk about the drug program or the steroid player. They didn't want to talk about disciplinary matters. The only thing they wanted to talk about was the cap number."