As an exclusive benefit for Jets season ticket holders, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell participated in a conference call today. The current labor situation dominated the conversation just hours after the league opened its doors to veterans.
"Litigation is not a good alternative for resolving this matter. It should be done in negotiations. The two parties should get back to negotiating instead of litigating and resolve these matters," said Goodell as the NFL awaited a ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit as to whether it would grant a temporary stay of U.S. District Judge Susan Nelson's injunction against the lockout. "This is what needs to happen is to get a comprehensive collective bargaining agreement, so we can continue to run and manage this league in a responsible fashion."
On Thursday evening, the commissioner was greeted with a chorus of boos from fans at Radio City Music Hall when the draft commenced.
"It's the fans' frustration and I understand that. I've spent two hours with the fans on Wednesday night and before the draft, probably another hour yesterday afternoon. I hear it directly from them," said Goodell. "They want football, you want football, I want football. I think everyone's frustrated by the circumstance and I think that was a clear indication of it. I understand their frustration with me not being able to solve that and the reality is that's my job and that's my responsibility and I accept it."
For now, free agency has been placed on hold. Goodell told the Jets season ticket holders that he planned to address the teams after his first call had reached a conclusion.
"We will be having a conference call later this morning after I get done here on player transaction rules," he said. "The most important thing for us is obviously to respect the decisions of the court. Second is to make sure we proceed in an orderly fashion and inform all 32 of our clubs to make sure we're doing it in a responsible fashion. And we will be doing that shortly."
The NFL released its regular-season schedule last week and the league has every intention of fully completing that slate. Rex Ryan's Jets are scheduled to host the Dallas Cowboys in a nationally televised battle on Sept. 11, but that was after some people speculated that the crosstown Giants would be the guests.
"We were very mindful of 9/11 and the importance it had — not only here in the New York market but also in Washington and western Pennsylvania," he said. "We did look at that alternative among many other alternatives, but when you sit there with the schedule you're not going to be able to achieve all your objectives. There are things you're going to have to balance between different issues and it just didn't work out that way.
"In fact, we have the Jets and Giants playing on Christmas Eve, which we think is a very good solution also. We're going to make 9/11 a very important day in the NFL. We're going to make sure we honor it appropriately. We think the scheduling that we've done will allow us to do that and we're going to be announcing plans specifically about how we'll honor that in the coming weeks."