Roger Goodell writes labor talks 'must now accelerate in earnest'

By Mark Maske
Tuesday, February 15, 2011; 8:22 PM

One day after the league accused the players' union of an unfair labor practice in a charge to the National Labor Relations Board, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell called for the two sides to intensify their negotiations.

"The hard work to secure the next NFL season must now accelerate in earnest," Goodell wrote on the league's labor-related Website. "We are just weeks from the expiration of our collective bargaining agreement. There has been enough rhetoric, litigation and other efforts beyond the negotiating table. It is time for serious negotiations."

The item written by Goodell is to appear in newspapers as an op-ed column, according to the NFL's Website.

The labor deal between the sport's franchise owners and the union expires March 4. Players and union officials have said they expect the owners to lock out the players at that point if the two sides fail to agree to a new labor deal first.

On Monday, the NFL accused the union of failing to bargain in good faith in a charge to the NLRB. The league's written charge said the union has failed to engage in serious bargaining and instead intends for the players to decertify the union and file antitrust litigation against the owners. The union denied the allegations in the league's charge.

Goodell wrote that the sport's current economic system is flawed and "staying with the status quo is not an option."

Goodell also wrote: "The current deal does not secure the best possible future for the game, players, clubs and fans. The next few weeks must be used to negotiate with intensity and purpose so we can reach a fair agreement by March 4. If both sides compromise and give a little, everyone will get a lot, especially the fans."

The union declined to respond through a spokesman.

Negotiations broke down last week with the two sides remaining far apart on the central economic issue of the dispute--how much of the sport's revenues would go to the players under a salary cap system.

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