Tampa, Fla. — Though confident of reaching a new labor agreement before the 2010 season, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell criticized a union report that said the league was highly profitable, and therefore the current revenue-sharing system still works.
“There’s a lot of fiction in that report,” Goodell said at his annual state of the NFL news conference Friday.
On Thursday, a union-commissioned study showed the average value of franchises has grown from $288 million to $1.04 billion during the past decade, and that teams averaged a $24.7 million profit in the last year — even as the economy took a turn for the worse.
Goodell disputed those figures and defended the owners’ decision to opt out of the current collective-bargaining agreement, which assures players about 60 percent of the applicable revenues. If a new deal is not reached after the 2009 season, the following year would be played without a cap. The union says if the salary cap disappears, it won’t accept one later.
In 2011, the league could face its first labor stoppage since 1987.
“The $24 million in profits is completely inaccurate,” Goodell said. “We understand our numbers. Ownership has spent a lot of time evaluating the current CBA and determined it is better to terminate that agreement and come up with a new one that will be beneficial to the clubs and players.”
On other topics, Goodell:
• Indicated the competition committee will look at tweaking overtime, perhaps moving up the kickoff to serve as something of an equalizer when a team wins the coin toss. He said 47 percent of teams winning the OT toss won the game on the first possession this season.
• Said the game got safer in the second half of the season after a series of fines for illegal hits caught players’ attention. Tapes he viewed showed the tackling techniques that endangered players were reduced significantly late in the season.
• Noted the league has shared research data and knowledge on treating concussions with the Department of Defense.
• Said he’s hopeful of staging a regular-season game in Mexico in 2010 as part of the league’s initiative to play games that count outside the United States.