The day after owners canceled their much-valued rookie symposium, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell turned what should be obvious by now into a bombshell announcement.
Goodell proclaimed Wednesday that the time for canceling games is growing close, though he declined to offer a firm deadline for a new collective bargaining agreement.
“We don’t have a date, but obviously that time is coming,” Goodell said at his news conference as the spring league meeting wrapped up in Indianapolis. “We’re getting close enough where those will have to be considerations.”
Though the league has built in a buffer that would allow the full 2011 schedule to be played even if the lockout lasts through the first three weeks, other issues will come into play. The Jets, for instance, plan to go back to SUNY Cortland for training camp. But the school’s facilities are only available until students move in the week before classes start Aug. 29. Last year’s camp ran from Aug. 1-19.
Cortland officials would like to know by July 1 the Jets’ intentions, though that date has some flexibility to it. Ultimately, though, there exists no wiggle room for a late start to camp. If the CBA is not settled shortly thereafter, the Jets will have to hold their entire training camp at their Florham Park, N.J., facility.
The more moderate ownership voices cried out for a return to the bargaining table. Colts owner Jim Irsay said it is imperative to get a CBA before July 4 so as not to imperil any games. He said the loss of preseason games or a late regular-season start could cost the league “in excess of $1 billion.”
Goodell said a 10 percent ratings falloff for the draft and reduced traffic on the NFL.com website indicate fan unrest and revenue loss.
“The longer it goes, the more damage is done to the game ... and that means less money that can be divided between the parties,” Goodell said.