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Goodell says he understands fans’ boos at draft
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) - Roger Goodell heard the boos loud and clear, and couldn’t blame the fans.
“It’s the fans’ frustration, and I understand that,” the NFL commissioner said Friday, a day after he was greeted with jeers at the league’s draft at Radio City Music Hall.
“They want football, you want football and I want football,” he added. “I think everyone’s frustrated by the circumstance, and I think that was a clear indication of it. I understand their frustration with me not being able to solve that. That’s my job and that’s my responsibility, and I accept that.”
Goodell was booed again later Friday when he announced the start of the second round.
The commissioner spoke to about 5,200 New York Jets season-ticket holders for nearly 35 minutes, the latest in a round of conference calls the commissioner has held during the labor dispute. The first day of the draft was held a day after a federal judge again ordered the NFL to lift the lockout, and hours after the league said players could report to team headquarters beginning Friday.
“The sooner we get an agreement,” Goodell said, “we can remove the uncertainty.”
“I was just glad to be in the building again,” Cotchery said. “I was able to come into the building and I’m able to rehab and everything, so I’m embracing this moment right now.”
Goodell said the league would hold a conference call later Friday morning to address player transaction rules. The guidelines for free agency, trades and other roster moves have been uncertain in the absence of a collective bargaining agreement.
“What we’re doing right now is having to adjust, obviously, to court decisions,” he said. “We are opening our gates this morning to the facilities. … The most important things for us is to obviously respect the decisions of the court, and secondly, make sure we proceed in an orderly fashion and inform all 32 of our clubs, to make sure we’re doing it in a responsible fashion.”
Goodell also expressed some frustration at how the labor situation is being handled.
“I believe that litigation is not a good alternative for resolving this matter,” he said. “It should be done in negotiations. The two parties should get back to negotiating instead of litigating and resolve these matters. This is what needs to happen, is get a comprehensive collective bargaining agreement so that we can continue to run and manage this league in a responsible fashion.”
One season-ticket holder asked Goodell about the issue of watered-down competition during the preseason, and if the league intends to lower prices as a result. Goodell said that is one of the main reasons the NFL is looking at changing the schedule from 16 regular-season games and four preseason games to 18 and two.
“This is one of the big issues in the collective bargaining negotiations,” he said. “We’re trying to balance the 18 and two with player health and safety. I can tell you that all of clubs are sensitive to the quality of what we’re doing, trying to improve the value for you as season-ticket holders. We’re going to try to address this issue on the preseason in a variety of ways. Hopefully, we’ll come up with a solution that you as a season-ticket holder finds attractive.”
Many New York-area fans were hoping the Jets could open the season on Sept. 11 against the Giants in a symbolic matchup. Instead, the Jets open with Dallas that night, while the Giants play at Washington earlier in the day _ recognizing the two cities hit hardest by the terrorist attacks.
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