Talk about awkward, earlier today DeMaurice Smith, the head of the organization formerly known as the NFLPA and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell released a joint statement after addressing the rookies from this year’s draft in Florida at the “rookie symposium.” I use quotations because unlike previous years, this year’s symposium is an NFLPA event after the NFL cancelled their planned event. First the statement:
“Both of us wanted to come out and tell you that we’re continuing to work hard,” Smith told reporters. “Both of us felt it was important to come down for this event. Obviously what we’re doing on the business of football on the macro scale is about getting a fair deal done and trying to get back to the game and business of football as quickly as possible. But this event was important to ensure that our young men appreciated how important we think these few days are. I’m thrilled that Roger could come down and talk to the rookies in a very good, direct way.”
Roger Goodell then chimed in:
“I would just say that it was a great opportunity for us to be able to sit with the rookies,” Goodell said. “They obviously had lots of questions. We answered the questions as best we could, but you all know that we’re under restrictions. We took a break because we felt it was important to be down here with the players. We both have great respect for the players and this is an important few days.
“And we’re going to get back to work.”
Now, this can be read one of two ways. First, if you’re an optimist you may think this is a sign of progress and collegial relations between the two most influential men involved in the lockout. The other, more cynical approach, is that this was just more political theatre for the sake of show. This is John Boehner playing golf with Barack Obama, this was George W. getting all chummy with Clinton after blaming him for every problem the country had for eight years. This may have been rather awkward.
For now, let’s hope it’s a good sign. But until the news runs across the crawler on ESPN that a deal has been done, don’t hold your breath.