Comissioner Roger Goodell Hopes Players’ Union is Wrong About Possible Lockout

Comissioner Roger Goodell Hopes Players' Union is Wrong About Possible Lockout FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — NFL commissioner Roger Goodell says he hopes the pessimism from the players' union regarding labor talks doesn't become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Speaking on Friday at his annual Super Bowl-week news conference, Goodell said fans "expect solutions … and we should deliver" on a new collective bargaining agreement.

NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith said Thursday the union views the chance of a lockout in 2011 as a "14" on a scale of 1 to 10 after the current labor agreement expires.

"I sure hope he's wrong," Goodell said. "Right now, we don't need a lot of focus on that."

Goodell has also said he doesn't agree with the union's claim that owners are insisting on an 18 percent player pay cut.

"The players should be paid fairly and they should be paid well. And I assure you that they will," Goodell said.

The commissioner said there is no contingency plan for the 2012 Super Bowl, on the chance that no football is played in 2011.

"We still have a lot of time and a lot of important opportunities here to structure something that makes sense for everybody," Goodell said.

On other issues, the commissioner said:

–Cleveland Browns wide receiver Donte' Stallworth will be reinstated after the Super Bowl from his suspension for killing a pedestrian while driving drunk.

–The culture in the league is changing regarding concussions, and there's now more awareness that such injuries are serious. There's more work to do to deal with concussions, Goodell said, but the league has made progress to ensure that players who suffer such injuries receive immediate medical help.

–Attendance at Jacksonville Jaguars' home games remains a concern, and with crowds of around 40,000, "you can't continue to have an NFL franchise."

–Extending the season to 17 or 18 games will be part of the discussion when talks with the union resume.

–The prospect of a cold-weather Super Bowl at the new Giants Stadium in 2014 is "interesting." There would be real benefits if the owners chose to award that game to the new stadium, Goodell said.

–The NFL is still eyeing a return to Mexico. Arizona and San Francisco held the league's first regular-season game outside the United States in Mexico in 2005, and playing there remains on the radar because "it's good for the NFL."

–He likes the league's oft-criticized overtime rule as it is.

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