It's been an ugly offseason.
I'm not talking Tom Brady's hair kind of ugly, I'm talking about the Jerry Springer kind of ugly. The players and the NFL have been throwing insults and jabs at each other like they were chairs of a transvestite who didn't tell his/her lover that he/she has been cheating on him/her for for the last three years with his/her sister.
So it's nice when we get a little break in the action, and when the leaders from both sides of the dispute tone the rhetoric down and actually have a normal Oprah-style conversation about the problems that the league is facing right now. In a recent call with fans of the Kansas City Chiefs, the NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell, expressed his concern about the situation without escalating any of the back and forth name calling that's been going on recently. Goodell's message? Litigation first, then negotiations.
I'm not going to sit here and tell you that Goodell can wash his hands of the entire mess. The owners and the players both have their fair share of the blame and the responsibility to go around. And it's not like Goodell was going to come off sounding like the bad guy in front of all the fans that he is trying so desperately to reach out to. His new fan outreach campaign certainly has the goal in mind of reestablishing the support of the fans and re-branding the NFL as a fan friendly league so it's not like he doesn't have his own selfish reasons for the effort either.
"Unfortunately, I don't think we're making much progress in negotiations because they really aren't happening," Goodell said on the call. "Right now, it's in a litigation phase and the union is pursuing that while we are defending that. Unfortunately, there are not enough negotiations, which ultimately it's going to have to come back to and is where this will get resolved and end in a new collective bargaining agreement."
But I have to admit that it's refreshing to hear some of the leadership on the issue back off of the rhetoric and the finger pointing (if at least for a little while).
Court mandated negotiations are set to continue on May 16th, and until then, let's hope that the public discussion stays civil.