Commissioner talks with Giants fans

Commissioner Roger Goodell spent 30 minutes on a conference call talking to Giants season ticket holders as he continues to reach out to fans of NFL teams.

According to the Giants, the conference call had 5,500 season ticketholders on the line at its peak.

Goodell didn’t say anything Earth-shattering but he did hit on a few topics. He said good things about the New Meadowlands Stadium. He reiterated that the lockout will have serious financial implications for all involved if games are lost. He said the NFL is still planning as if the season will begin on time.

The most entertaining portion of the call came when a so-called Giants fan started to ask about John Mara’s role in the negotiations and how respected he is before trying to promote his fantasy football website. He was promptly cut off the call and the Commissioner chuckled.

Here’s the Cliffs notes version of the Commissioner’s comments on today’s call:

(On the lockout) “We are hard at work. I’m actually in mediation at Minnesota. Stepped out for a few minutes to talk to you and the fans. Fans want solutions, I want solutions and the players and teams want solutions.”

(On whether the season will start on time) “When we released the schedule yesterday, we are planning on starting the season on time and playing a full season. I like to focus on being successful. There is a lot of risk with everybody involved.”

(On the prospect of replacement players being used) “We have not had any focus on replacement players, that is not a part of our strategy or our thinking. Our focus is to get an agreement with these players. We have created some league-wide policies on ticket refunds. Replacement players are not part of our strategy.”

(On the Giants playing in Washington this 9/11) “All of us that live in the New York area or the Washington area or Western Pennsylvania and as well as everyone across the great country know the impact that 9/11 had on us. We wanted to honor that 10-year anniversary in a way that we thought was appropriate. We could have a game in New York and a game in Washington. The Jets will play in New York and the Giants in Washington. It is the right thing to do.”

(On what exactly is the Commissioner’s role in the lockout process) “I understand your frustration and share your frustration. I am a firm believer that this will not be solved through litigation and it will be solved in negotiation. Recognizing we all have a shared responsibility… my role will specifically be to do whatever I can to bring everyone together.”

(On whether the salary cap) “I think both sides have indicated in having some sort of salary cap system. It has been beneficial to the game. The question really will be if we have a capped system, which I think benefits the game, what is the growth rate of the cap and what is the start of the cap?”

(On Mara’s role in negotiations) “John Mara is a very respected owner and he does serve on our labor committee and he has participated in many of the negotiations, including a large part of our meditation in Washington. He has always been there and he is respected by all parties and has high integrity and is a very good sounding board for me and understands the game of football and knows what is best for the game. And he wants to be fair to all parties and will play a crucial role in the negotiations.”

(On what incentive owners have to settle quickly after collecting money from season-ticket holders) “Not playing football, shutting your business down has a dramatic impact on your business. A strike or a lockout has significant financial impact on all parties. I worry not only about the financial impact to all parties but also the damage to our game and what it does in the eyes of our fans if we are not successful. Make no mistake about it, it will have significant financial impact on the clubs.”