Roger Goodell seems to be going out of his way to remind folks that isn't the way it works anymore. (Bud Selig did a bang up job of that for baseball). Goodell is now publicly telling the players that is their turn to give in to the owners, because the owners got a bad shake in the last bargaining agreement.
Do you see? In what was probably the most successful era for a professional sport in the history of mankind, the owners didn't quite make enough money. The players union, rightly, is calling bullshit on that, and has been saying, over and over again, "Open the books, show us your real financials, and we'll go from there."
Goodell's response to that idea says everything: "We're all for transparency...Our players have a tremendous amount of economic data. Unfortunately, (opening up the books) is not the holy grail."
Let me translate that for you: we are not opening up the books. Also, as opposed to making sound like a reasonable first step to any honest negotiation, I'm going to compare it some mythological, impossible object of history.
No one on the player's side is claiming that opening the books magically solves the problem of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. What they are saying, and what any one with a modicum of honesty could see they are saying is that if you claim financial hardship, it is not unreasonable for your employees to see that hardship is real. If you work for Toyota, or Chrysler, you know when times are tough, because you see the assembly line slow down, or stop. You see product stack up. But what if the assembly line was ripping along, 24 hours a day, and the cars and trucks were flying out of the lots, and your employer came to you hat in hand and said, "Times are tough?" You'd be dubious, yes? Same thing with the NFL players. They see their product flying off the shelves. They see the draft coverage getting more and more intense. They know they are unquestionably playing the country's most significant and successful sport. Everyone can see that. Why the owners think the players won't see that is beyond me.
If you weren't aware of it yet, let's be clear here--2011 is almost certainly going to be the year of the NFL lockout. And next year's capless year is practically a certainty as well. Fun times ahead. And just remember--Goodell isn't a commissioner in the traditional sense of the word. He's more of the owner's (extremely powerful) PR guy.