NFL commissioner Roger Goodell held a press conference Tuesday to conclude the owners meetings in New Orleans and continued to push the league's view that the quickest way to a new Collective Bargaining Agreement is through negotiation, not litigation.
"Our primary focus was on our labor dispute and planning and preparation on that," Goodell said.
The commissioner said that the league is planning on having a full season and often mentioned that returning to negotiation would be the fastest route to an agreement.
"The players chose to litigate, we're going to have to defend that," he said. "Litigation isn't going to solve this problem. It's clearly going to be solved in litigations. The faster we can get back to negotiation, the faster we can get an agreement."
Goodell was asked about the letter he sent players last Thursday. "The ownership wanted to make sure that the players knew what their leadership had walked away from in the mediation process," he said. "We think it was important to send that so players knew what the owners offered."
Goodell said he has not spoken to DeMaurice Smith, the executive director of the former NFLPA, since the union decertified on March 11.
Goodell squashed any rumors about potential replacement players in the event the lockout threatens the 2011 season. "We have not had any discussions or considerations of replacement players," he said. "That hasn't been discussed. It hasn't been considered. It's not in our plans."
A reporter pressed Goodell about owners not being present in Washington D.C. during negotiations, and the commissioner said that all owners were informed every step of the way.
"We had owners that were not only available but came in when asked. We had our entire negotiating team there," he said.
When asked about the potential boycott of the NFL draft, Goodell said he hopes that the prospects are not denied the opportunity of the Draft Day experience.
"It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for players to enjoy the success they've had and start their career on the stage and participate in the draft," he said.
There have been questions about what is and is not allowed between coaches and players during a lockout. Goodell said that teams cannot give playbooks to their drafted players but can have contact with prospects before the draft.
He also said that five teams have been contacted regarding violations involving player and coach contact. In February, Dolphins QB Chad Henne told the Miami Herald that he had been meeting with new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, sparking the question to Goodell. The commissioner did not name the teams but said five were contacted and fined for the violations.
Only one question was asked about the proposed rule changes that came out of the meetings, and it was regarding one that was tabled — the language in the rules about defenseless players.
"There was lots of discussion from coaches and clubs. We are making sure that the rule that is being proposed is clear," he said.
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