NFL lockout: Players respond to Roger Goodell’s letter

March 19, 2011

Locked-out NFL players wrote Saturday to Commissioner Roger Goodell, responding to Goodell’s letter to all players on Thursday.

The players’ letter, signed by the 11 members of the executive council of the dissolved NFL Players Association, said the sport’s franchise owners “never justified their demands for a massive give-back which would have resulted in the worst economic deal for players in major league pro sports.”

The players wrote: “We were there at the negotiations and know the truth about what happened, which ultimately led the players to renounce the NFLPA’s status as the collective bargaining representative of NFL players. The players took this step only as a last resort, and only after two years of trying to reach a reasonable collective bargaining agreement and three weeks of mediation. . . . At all times during the mediation session we had representatives at the table with the authority to make a deal. The NFL representatives at the mediation did not, and the owners were mostly absent.”

The players’ letter called statements made by Goodell, league negotiator Jeff Pash and the owners that they had offered the players a fair deal “false.”

The players’ letter also directed the league to speak to their attorneys in the antitrust lawsuit filed against the owners if it wants to discuss a possible settlement.

Pash said in a written statement released by the league: “We are pleased now to have received a reply to the comprehensive proposal that we made eight days ago. The points made in the players’ letter are precisely the kind of points that collective bargaining is intended to address. Debating the merits of the offer in this fashion is what collective bargaining is all about. . . . This letter again proves that the most sensible step for everyone is to get back to bargaining. . . . We are ready.”

Mark Maske covers the NFL for The Washington Post.
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