PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Steelers season ticketholders held a conference call with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
The NFL lockout reached Day 70 on Thursday and fans are getting restless. The biggest question on their minds today was when the lockout was going to end.
“I can’t predict where we’re going to come out other than I can tell you that the intention and the preparations we are making are for a full season,” Goodell said. “That’s what I know the 32 clubs want and I believe the players want.”
“Until we sit down and resolve our differences through collective bargaining, that’s still the hurdle we still have to overcome,” he added.
As for that collective bargaining, the commissioner laid all of the blame for the lack of a deal on the players, saying the owners have already offered increased salaries, open financial records and increased funding for retired players.
“They have an extraordinary amount of information to understand why the deal is not working and they refuse to take that information during the mediation process,” Goodell said.
The commissioner said he understands the unhappiness felt by fans.
“I can assure you whether it’s at the negotiating table or whether it’s in league meetings, that the fans’ perspective is first and foremost in the minds of the clubs,” Goodell said. “We know why we’re playing this game and we know the importance of this game to our fans. We also know what our fans are going through and we’re going to get to an agreement, hopefully sooner rather than later.”
Of course, this is only one side of the issue. For every point Goodell made in the owners’ favor, the players could come back with a counterpoint in their favor.
However, DeMaurice Smith, head of the Players Association, gave a commencement speech today that was highlighted by two words aimed at the commissioner’s direction: “You suck.”
Meantime, former Steeler Franco Harris is hopeful.
“Eventually they will figure it out and work it out but I think it’s going to be some tough negotiations,” he said.
Of course making tough, Franco says, is that there’s so much at stake – $9 billion and that the dynamic between the owners and players association has changed over the years.
“Now, a lot of the owners are successful business men, financial men not so sure if you really would call them sportsmen in the sense of the word,” he explained. “Also there’s no doubt that players have reaped the reward of football doing great and have really gotten used to some pretty good paydays.”
But Franco believes the presence of Steelers President Art Rooney in Minnesota taking part in talks could make a difference.
“The money has gotten so big that both sides are just looking at that pot. But I do feel that with Art there will be a different feeling.”