Roger Goodell's letter to agents and players, urging them to encourage their leadership back to the negotiating table, is being received with skepticism. It seems like an end-around tactic and players don't sound too impressed.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is taking the fight to the street in the current impasse with players – contacting all of the NFL's players in hopes of making progress in the lockout that is threatening the 2011 season.
On Thursday, Goodell sent a letter to all players and their agents explaining the league's offer to the players association and asking them to urge their ranks to get back to the negotiating process.
In the communication, Goodell laid out the league's offer in detail. He urged the players that progress had been made in the mediation sessions that preceded the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement and that delays to the start of free agency hurt both the league and the players involved. Goodell asked the players to get back to the bargaining table.
A couple of Vikings reacted with humor on their Twitter pages. Receiver Jaymar Johnson
wrote that he stepped off a plane and saw an e-mail on his phone from Goodell and wondered what he did wrong. Punter Chris Kluwe
wrote, "So nice he personalized it, ‘Dear NFL Player.'"
Whether viewed as dirty pool by the NFLPA leadership – it's rare when an employer bypasses the negotiating team to directly contact the employees under them – or not, it would seem the NFL is doing everything it can to maintain itself in a positive light in trying to negotiate. However, it still appears that both sides are miles apart in their view of what constitutes bargaining in good faith, making Goodell's letter a gesture more than a conduit to progress.
A week into the lockout and three-quarters of the league's official team websites aren't posting stories or game images of the players. A total of 18 teams have no player images on their front page: Buffalo, Miami, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Houston, Jacksonville, Tennessee, Denver, Oakland, Detroit, Minnesota, Carolina, New Orleans, Tampa Bay, St. Louis, San Francisco and Seattle. Six more have players in photos as part of unrelated non-player, non-football or draft-related stories – the New York Jets, Kansas City, Philadelphia, Washington, Green Bay, Atlanta.
Almost as many team websites have stories on the status of their cheerleader squads than are actually doing player stories (teams can't contact players during the lockout). Miami has three active stories on its website front-page headline rotation about cheerleaders and seven team websites include highlighted stories on the hopes and dreams of cheerleaders – Miami, Jets, Oakland, Philadelphia, Atlanta, St. Louis and San Francisco.
Perhaps the most interesting "non-football" highlight is the Houston Texans home page. Click on that and an ad comes up selling tickets for something called the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup – a semifinal doubleheader tilt at Reliant Stadium June 22. One can only imagine that tickets are still available. Really good tickets.
Blaine Gabbert and Christian Ponder conducted their Pro Days this week. Vikings vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman attended Gabbert's workout.
While it is unlikely Gabbert will be available, the Vikings have a built-in connection with him. He is represented by Tom Condon, who is also the agent for Adrian Peterson, Kevin Williams and Steve Hutchinson.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.