Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Goodell: 'Intensive' Talks Are Needed; League, Union Will Meet Today in the First Formal Session since November

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Goodell: 'Intensive' Talks Are Needed; League, Union Will Meet Today in the First Formal Session since November

Article excerpt

Byline: VITO STELLINO

DALLAS - Commissioner Roger Goodell said at his annual Super Bowl news conference Friday that there will be no free agency if a new collective bargaining agreement isn't reached when the current one expires on March 4.

That was another indication that the owners plan to lock out the players if a new deal isn't reached, although Goodell also said, "We have not made any determinations of what will happen on March 4.''

Instead, Goodell focused on the need for intense negotiations to get a new deal. The two sides will meet today and again next week.

When wide receiver Chad Ochocinco of the Cincinnati Bengals - acting as a media member for his OCNN Twitter network - asked him if there was a timetable, he said, "We will get an agreement. That is only going to happen when there are some intensive negotiations between your union and the owners. That has to take place now. This is the window of opportunity to get this done right now.''

If there is a lockout, all activity involving the players and the teams stops. Players will not be allowed into team facilities, even to rehabilitate injuries, and coaches will not be allowed to contact the players, much less sign them.

"I frequently said that I think March 4 is a very critical date because again, a lot of different strategies will take place if we are not successful in getting an agreement by that time. We need to have intensive, round-the-clock negotiations to address the issues and find solutions," he said.

If the players are locked out, the union is expected to announce it is decertifying so the players can't be locked out. The owners are then expected to challenge the decertification in court.

The dispute stems from the 2006 agreement in which the owners now contend they gave the players too much. The union contends the owners want about $1 billion returned and wants the owners to open their books to show they need relief. …

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