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Three takeaways from Goodell's presser

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Posted March 22, 2011 @ 4:54 p.m. ET
By Eric Edholm

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell spoke Tuesday to conclude the owners' meetings in New Orleans. Here are three things I took from his press conference:

  • Perhaps the most interesting "news" to come out of the conference with the media was that the NFL has fined five teams for for having illegal contact with players during a league-designated dead period, which is the time before the official offseason workout programs begin in March. It's simply not allowed, and when asked about Dolphins QB Chad Henne recently talking about contact with his coaching staff, Goodell said that the league had investigated five cases of this rules violation. The league's general counsel, Jeff Pash, confirmed that the Dolphins were one of the teams.. Other NFL teams have been mentioned as possible suspects, but I have no concrete evidence on which four they are. Will keep digging on this.
  • Goodell hasn't changed his message whatsoever since the union dissolved. It's usually in this form, or some close variation: "We're not going to solve (the labor crisis) through litigation. The sooner we get back to the negotiating table, the better." He's not even trying to come up with new ways to say that. There are two ways to look at it. One, he legitimately believes that to be the truth, or two, he and the owners still are concerned what the court decision might be on April 6, or thereabouts. The problem is that fans are growing impatient with hearing the same words over and over. The owners — and Goodell, their mouthpiece much of the time — can wear patience thin by repeating, rote, the same message ad nauseum and yet with little (well, let's face it, none) progress being made. Goodell said today that he has not heard from DeMaurice Smith, the head of the former union, since the NFLPA decertified. That might not be Goodell's fault, but it's not good news, either.
  • When asked about players being up in arms for the league continuing to enforce personal conduct rules even though the owners are locking them out — and NFL rules, in theory, no longer apply currently — Goodell said he hadn't heard their anger. Well, first he said he didn't hear the question then said he hadn't heard that. "Personal conduct continues," Goodell said. "It applies to every player in the league." And though I agree that players should not be allowed to run rampant and break conduct-code rules, I also think there's a wee bit of hypocrisy in there. For Goodell to act as if he hasn't heard the players' cries, well, that too reeks of head-in-the-sand-ish-ness to me. He clearly feels he has to stand tough or his league could crumble from a PR standpoint with a rash of arrests and the like.

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