Goodell delivers message to Atlanta fans

May, 2, 2011
5/02/11
8:21
PM ET
I just got off a conference call with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Falcons owner Arthur Blank and a whole bunch of Atlanta season-ticket holders.

Let’s start with Goodell and the labor situation because that’s what seemed to be foremost on the minds of the callers who got to ask questions.

I’ll start it off by saluting Atlanta fans for giving Goodell a pretty good grilling about the labor situation. You have a right to know what’s going on and a right to express your opinions because this impacts your lives.

Goodell’s overall theme on labor can be summed up in one quote.

“We need more negotiating and less litigating,’’ Goodell said.’’

He drove that point home repeatedly in a call that lasted about 35 minutes and only season-ticket holders, not members of the media were allowed to ask questions.

“We need to get down to negotiating so we can make an agreement that make sense for everybody,’’ Goodell said. “That’s the only way it’s going to get solved.’’

Goodell said he thought progress was made in previous mediation sessions and thought the NFL made a fair proposal to the players. Goodell said he believed progress was made on both sides during mediation sessions back in March. He said he thought owners made a fair proposal to players at that point.

“We should be sitting at the table working from that proposal,’’ Goodell said. “The general view is the faster we can get back into that mediation and discuss issues, the faster we can get back on the field. Unfortunately we’ve spent the last six or seven weeks in litigation, which is delaying things.’’

I don’t think I’ve heard Goodell say this next part before and I certainly don’t disagree with it.

“We shouldn’t be where we are right now,’’ Goodell said. “We should have addressed the issues far enough in advance.’’

Goodell said there are no plans to try to play a season with replacement players. He also was asked if there is a date set when the league would start canceling regular-season games.

“We do not have a drop-dead date right now,’’ Goodell said. “My concern is so much has to happen to get ready for the regular season.’’

He went on to explain how teams need training camp and preseason games to be fully prepared for the regular season.

“All of that needs to get done sooner rather than later,’’ Goodell said.

I'll be back in a bit with what Blank had to say. A bit later, I'll have a little bit more about the possibility of a new stadium in Atlanta.

Pat Yasinskas | email

ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter

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