NFL COMMISSIONER ROGER GOODELL AND NFLPA EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR DEMAURICE SMITH FIRST JOINT INTERVIEW EXCLUSIVELY ON NFL NETWORK
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and newly-elected NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith sat down together for their first joint interview on NFL Network’s 2009 Draft Pre-Draft show.
Below is the transcript from the exclusive interview on NFL Network:
Rich Eisen: DeMaurice, can I call you ‘D’?
DeMaurice Smith: You can call me D, we’re friends now.
Eisen: Since we’re friends, let’s hammer out a CBA right now…the three of us.
Smith: Done. You got a pen? (laughs)
Eisen: Sure. I’ve got all sorts of pens and office equipment…what would you say is the one main obstacle you think that needs to be broached with players and management right now to get a new CBA?
Smith: The main obstacle is something that I think we’ve actually taken care of. We’ve agreed to sit down and chat. When you’re here, you know that our fans love our game. My players want to play, our players want to play, our owners want to play. I know Roger wants to play. The biggest obstacle is overcome. We’re going to sit down and chat and we’ll get a deal.
Eisen: When? When are we talking?
Roger Goodell: Well, we’ve already met a few times. We’ll start more formal negotiations in the next several weeks. (DeMaurice) is going to go out spend some time talking to some of the players and some of the teams and we hope to sit down in the next few weeks.
Eisen: DeMaurice, you’ve said that you’d like to see more financial information from management and the NFL. What do you want to see?
Smith: Our players ask me good questions and the fans ask good questions. One of the things that we are interested in is anytime that we move into a new deal and people are interested in the full fairness of the deal, they want to see the audited financial statements, they want to know if the teams are doing well. If there are ways that we can get together and help this game grow, we want to know how we can do it. I come from a world where if you share that information, you get a heck of a lot closer to making a deal and that’s something that I’m sure we’re going to chat about.
Eisen: How do you respond to that?
Goodell: Anytime both parties are better informed, it gives them a chance to make better decisions. Certainly, they are well aware of our economics in the sense that they know our revenue down to a penny; it’s also audited. They know 60% of our costs go to the players so if there’s other information that’s necessary to help us through, we’ve talked about the analysis on an extended season. That’s something we want to share. We want to share information so they can make better decisions and we can reach an agreement. So if that’s what the focus is on, we will certainly engage in that.
Eisen: We have reached a point officially that the top pick in the NFL Draft, someone who has never played (in the NFL) before is making more guaranteed money than the rest of the National Football League. Do you think that there is a problem with the system like that?
Smith: You know, I don’t. I’ve been a big fan of this game for a long time. I’ve watched this game for a long time. But I have to tell you…my guess is that at the end of the day today, it’s going to be the same that it’s always has been. The owners sign the checks, our players don’t. We know the work that goes into picking the right guy. Our players know the work that goes into making a decision on how much to pay (players). That’s not a decision that lies on the players and they know that. So, in respect to a rookie (salary) cap, I am very happy with the scenario that we have now. Less than 4% of our total cap amount is dedicated to rookie salaries, so we do have a cap, but when the day comes that we start signing checks, then that’s when we’ll start answering those kind of questions.
Eisen: Commissioner, a lot of people think that there are so many other issues that the owners want to address with management, that eventually they’ll be bigger fish than this to fry in the CBA discussions. How do you respond to something like that?
Goodell: That’s true Rich. There’s no question that this is just one of many issues that we want to address. DeMaurice and I have talked about this. We haven’t had extensive discussions, but we know who signs the checks – it’s the owners. The problem is that the system right now has been skewed. It’s not only having financially ramifications to clubs, it’s having competitive ramifications. That’s why we need to sit down and figure it out. I believe that (DeMaurice) and the players want the money to go to proven veterans and people that are in the NFL rather than people that may be out of the NFL because they didn’t pan out. As much as we do work and study, as you know, mistakes are made about who can play at this level and who can’t. So we’d like to see the proven veterans get that money.
Eisen: D, there’s an “A.D.” in New England named Adalius Thomas. He was very vocal in calling out the Commissioner on playing extra games in the regular season. Essentially saying to count him on being on injured reserve for those two extra weeks. Do you think that reflects the rank and file of the rest of the players association?
Smith: There is nobody in this game who understands the toll on their bodies more than the players. We want to talk about the extra game scenario and I’m happy that the Commissioner and the league wants to talk about that. We want to talk about the increased chance of injury. It’s got to be a discussion. I’m happy to say that our players want to have the conversation. We want to look at the metrics. There isn’t a day where we don’t want to make this game better for all these people who have come in here today to watch (the draft).
Eisen: Commissioner, you have made so many different rule changes in regards to player safety, but this would give two more weeks to a season in which many injuries may occur because it’s a longer season. How do the extra two games jive with the league’s push to maintain player safety?
Goodell: We’ve always have a focus on player safety. We want to make sure that this game is as safe as possible for the players under every circumstance and there are certain techniques that we know can cause injury or that are more likely to cause injuries, serious injuries. We have always had a focus on taking those out of the game. On the extended season, we’re staying within the 20-game format. Any changes that we would make, there would be a reduction in the number of preseason games. I recognize that the players aren’t playing in the preseason that fans want to see and that’s part of the problem. The preseason isn’t as attractive to our fans and in this kind of environment, we have to do everything we can to improve the quality of what we do.
NFL Network’s pre-Draft show also included an interview with Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. To access the interview with Belichick, as well as additional draft coverage and features, please visit http://www.nfl.com/videos?videoId=09000d5d80ffa07a.
NFL Network brings wall-to-wall coverage of the 2009 NFL Draft. Day two coverage begins Sunday at 9:00 AM ET with a one-hour NFL Total Access at the 2009 Draft Pre-Draft show, followed by Day two of the NFL Draft at 10:00 AM ET.
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