Roger Goodell, DeMaurice Smith butt heads on labor progress
Updated: September 9, 2009, 2:08 PM ET
Smith waiting for formal CBA proposal
ESPN.com news services
Commissioner Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFL Players Association, agree on at least one thing: They can't wait to watch some football.
In terms of getting to the bargaining table, both say the other needs to get a move on.
As the season opener approaches Thursday in Pittsburgh, where the defending Super Bowl champion Steelers play the Tennessee Titans, Goodell and Smith are wrestling over progress in collective bargaining agreement talks. Barring a deal before the current CBA expires in 2011, the NFL is headed for an uncapped season in 2010.
"As I said publicly before, none of this gets resolved by talking about it in the media," Goodell said Wednesday on "Mike & Mike in the Morning" on ESPN Radio. "People want to talk about football now, not the CBA negotiations. That's for us to deal with," he said, adding he's ready to begin negotiating with the union.
Goodell was responding to remarks made by Smith to USA Today. In Wednesday's editions, Smith expressed frustration that the league has yet to submit a formal proposal to the union.
"The time was ripe two months ago," Smith said. "We're still waiting for the first proposal from the NFL."
Later Wednesday on "Mike and Mike," Smith seemed irritated that a formal offer hasn't been extended.
"It's been over 400 days since the owners opted out of this agreement. I hope that we don't go another 10 days before we hear … an initial proposal from the league," Smith said.
As to what took place in labor talks over the summer, Smith said, "You can always talk, but the way in which to move the ball forward is to first explain why you opted out of an agreement that generated $8 billion in revenue."
Goodell was quoted last week as saying that the league is preparing for an uncapped 2010 season. Smith toured a host of training camps this summer and said he has advised players to be prepared for a lockout in 2011.
With regard to advancing to the negotiation phase for a new CBA, the commissioner said, "To me this has to be, 'Set the table and let's start negotiating.' "
"It takes two people to negotiate," Smith replied, according to USA Today. "I'm hoping they will respect the process and begin negotiating. I'm willing and able to meet anytime."
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