NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL Executive Vice President Jeff Pash spoke with the media after today's session at the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS).
Following are transcripts from Commissioner Goodell and Pash after it was announced by the FMCS that, at its request, the NFL and NFLPA agreed to a seven-day extension of the expiration of the CBA, ending Friday evening, March 11.
Transcript of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell3/4/11 – Washington, DC
"As you know we've extended our agreement for mediation for another seven days. We are continuing to work hard, trying to identify solutions. We believe that, as I've said many times before, that this will be solved through negotiations. And that's what we're focused on. So we'll continue to work hard. We'll be back next week. Happy to take a couple of questions.
On any significant movement?
We are in a media blackout. I'm sorry. I'm not trying to dodge your question. With respect to the process, to George Cohen, to the NFLPA, I think we want to continue to respect that. But we've continued to work hard. I think the fact that we are continuing this dialogue is a positive sign.
Will you be working this weekend?
We will be working on our own. But we will not be meeting this weekend.
Good news for you. You can go home.
On concern about decertification/lockout:
As I've repeated over and over again, this is going to get resolved through negotiations. Not through litigation. So talking is better than litigating.
Is there anything you have agreed on?
In respect to the process, I really can't get into that. We're obviously having a lot of dialogue. We met for a lot of days. And we are going to meet for more.
Are you hopeful?
We are going to continue to work as hard as we can. I promise.
Transcript of NFL Executive Vice President Jeff Pash3/4/11 – Washington, DC
We had good discussions today with Director Cohen and his deputy. Again, I would just say, they brought a tremendous element of professionalism and wisdom and patience to this whole process. And they've been very helpful. And I want to express on behalf of our entire team our thanks to them as well. We are looking forward to getting back together with the Players Association next Monday and we are going to continue to work. I think we are at a stage where the issues have been joined, there has been a tremendous amount of discussion, it's time for us really to dig, to dig deep, and try to find solutions and try to be creative and try to compromise in a way that will work for everybody.
The Commissioner has been very clear. If both sides give a little, everyone can gain a lot. And that's what we have to try to do next week. It's a challenge, we've got very serious issues, we've got significant differences. But we are committed to collective bargaining. All over this country, collective bargaining is being challenged. We're committed to it. We believe it can work. It has worked. We believe it will work. We are glad to have the opportunity to come back here, next Monday, continue to work with Director Cohen and his staff and hopefully deliver an agreement that will work for our fans.
Based on substance of talks, are you optimistic?
I've never felt that this is something where optimism, pessimism, up-down like it's a weather report is a good way to look at it. We're talking. That's the most important thing. And that's a reason for optimism. Talking is better than litigating. Talking is better than walking away. Let's stay at that. That's where we are.
Do you expect to reach a deal by next Friday?
I have no expectations one way or another other than having a solid week of negotiations.
Is this the last extension that can take place?
I do not know.
Do you feel like both sides have been giving?
There's been enough serious discussion to warrant both sides taking this step. And the mediators felt it and that's why they requested it of us. If they believe that we are in a position where we can make progress and get to an agreement, then I think it's incumbent upon us and our ownership feels it's incumbent to make that effort.
Do you anticipate members of the CEC will be directly involved in negotiating?
The CEC is directly involved in negotiating. I wouldn't be surprised if owners are here next week. I don't have a view one way or another as to who or when, but I wouldn't be surprised.
On characterization that more progress has been made in the last 24 hours than in past two years:
I'm not a characterizer. I don't know who made that characterization. I think there's been enough discussion and enough substance to the discussions that the mediators thought it made sense to come back and keep at it. So we're happy to do that.
On asking for an additional extension:
I think you have to just see where you are at the time. I think to prejudge that one way or another, to either say no or yes, I think does a disservice to the process. This suggestion was proposed by the mediators and I think we need to be governed to some extent by their judgment. You need to listen to what they say.
Should fans be optimistic?
I think this is better than the alternative. Should they be optimistic? They know we're talking. They know we're working hard. I think that should be a positive.
On help of mediation process:
I think what the mediators bring to the process is a structure and a discipline that wasn't always there. They inject a seriousness of purpose to it. They encourage you. They keep you going. Someone said the easy and quick answer is no. The longer answer is maybe. And the still longer answer sometimes is yes. They encourage you to keep at it, to think about it, to look at alternatives. And I think they've done a fantastic job. Whether these talks ultimately succeed or not, the efforts that George Cohen, Scot Beckenbaugh and their entire staff have made have really been a testament to how collective bargaining can be effective and it justifies our belief in the process.