Roger Goodell’s Open Letter From The NFL Rings False


Rarely do I read my emails looking for form letters. Rarer still, do I see a form letter and think, “Damn, I gotta read that!”

Tonight, there was a pretty big exception.

As my phone vibrated calmly away, I opened up my email program and lo and behold! An email from Roger Goodell!

I figured it meant he read my last piece on the NFLPA decertifying and wanted to give me an exclusive. Turns out, no…it was just a form letter.

However, it was a form letter that defied description in its, “There’s nothing to see here!” attitude.

The letter below is the league’s response to its fans in the wake of the NFLPA erasing itself from existence as well as the realization to everyone that we may not see football for a very long time. The letter is well written and lays out the owners’ points very well. There’s only one problem with it, in reality.

It treats us all like we’re idiots.

The letter takes the stance that this is all the players fault, when it has been reported time and time again that the players and the union were perfectly willing to agree to everything as long as the owners open up their books and show their audited income reports for the last ten years. Had the owners done this, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

The owners flat out refused.

Now, I had a very intelligent post on my Facebook account from a friend that said, “Boy, I’d sure love to get a look at my employer’s books!” Fundamentally, without taking into account the negotiating and bargaining rights of a union…he’s right. It’s ridiculous to assert that you should be able to see the audited financial statements of your bosses and employers. There’s no reason why the players should be allowed that type of information about their bosses and employers, right?

When your bosses, though, come to you and say, “Hey, we’re losing money hand over fist, you have to give back 18% of your income,” then the players and the NFLPA have every right to retort with, “Ummm…yeah, I don’t think I buy that,” especially in the wake of the owners having a 4 billion (AGAIN, that’s with a B!!!) dollar stash from the networks waiting for them. Things that the owners say just don’t have a ring of truth to them.

And sure, we’re debating the validity of arguments from millionaires and billionaires, all of whom make more than us and I’m not sure even particularly care that much about us.

But at the same time, being lied to by the leader of the billionaires, while all the while he is trying to show you how magnanimous he and his brethren are being, really leaves a bad taste in your mouth.

The text of the letter is below.

Dear NFL Fan,

When I wrote to you last on behalf of the NFL, we promised you that we would work tirelessly to find a collectively bargained solution to our differences with the players’ union. Subsequent to that letter to you, we agreed that the fastest way to a fair agreement was for everyone to work together through a mediation process. For the last three weeks I have personally attended every session of mediation, which is a process our clubs sincerely believe in.

Unfortunately, I have to tell you that earlier today the players’ union walked away from mediation and collective bargaining and has initiated litigation against the clubs. In an effort to get a fair agreement now, our clubs offered a deal today that was, among other things, designed to have no adverse financial impact on veteran players in the early years, and would have met the players’ financial demands in the latter years of the agreement.

The proposal we made included an offer to narrow the player compensation gap that existed in the negotiations by splitting the difference; guarantee a reallocation of savings from first-round rookies to veterans and retirees without negatively affecting compensation for rounds 2-7; no compensation reduction for veterans; implement new year-round health and safety rules; retain the current 16-4 season format for at least two years with any subsequent changes subject to the approval of the league and union; and establish a new legacy fund for retired players ($82 million contributed by the owners over the next two years).

It was a deal that offered compromise, and would have ensured the well-being of our players and guaranteed the long-term future for the fans of the great game we all love so much. It was a deal where everyone would prosper.

We remain committed to collective bargaining and the federal mediation process until an agreement is reached, and call on the union to return to negotiations immediately. NFL players, clubs, and fans want an agreement. The only place it can be reached is at the bargaining table.

While we are disappointed with the union’s actions, we remain steadfastly committed to reaching an agreement that serves the best interest of NFL players, clubs and fans, and thank you for your continued support of our League. First and foremost it is your passion for the game that drives us all, and we will not lose sight of this as we continue to work for a deal that works for everyone.

Roger Goodell

Paul Schmidt is a senior contributor and media relations director for the Sports Bank, and is entering his tenth year of writing about sports in Chicago and Illinois.


  1. My employer just announced a 1 year wage freeze. Does that mean I have the right to demand that my employer open his books and prove to me that this is necessary?

  2. jeff kinney says


  3. Rick:
    Do you work for the state of Wisconsin? If so….yeah, I’d say you do.

    If you’re not in a union, and your company is a publicly traded company, you absolutely have that right. Otherwise it becomes a little more difficult.

    And for the record I think it is that the owners are asking for almost 20% of the players’ salaries per year back that is causing the problem, which is a little different than a wage freeze. I know that doesn’t help you in your situation any, but I think it’s a pertinent point.

  4. I also don’t think Jeff Kinney will be the president of the Roger Goodell fan club any time soon…

  5. And, also, thanks Jeff for clarifying that I wasn’t the P. O. S. I was worried there for a minute. Although…you’d be right…but still…

  6. As a loyal fan of the NFL, i find this to be outlandish and ludicrous. Are you kidding me??? The players make millions! The owners make billions! BUT, the players want more? ARE YOU SERIOUS? Learn how to manage your money!!! I live off of 30,000 a year and my employers are billionaires. LOOK, Take 1,000,000 off the 10,000,000 you made last year, invest half of it into insurance and the other half into your retirement funds!!! then next year, when you make another 10,000,000, buy yourself a house, and one for your mom, and one for your g-ma n g-pa! take the rest of your money and invest in your retirement money and set some aside for you to play!!! Then, The next year, after u have earned your next 10,000,000, keep it for yourself!!! Then the next year, pay your bankruptcy lawyer because u r too stupid to covet 30,000,000 dollars while i am still clinching my tail to live off 90,000 dollars!!! or be like the NBA guys and wind up bankrupt cuz you cant figure your life out and are too dumb to earn a dime and w should pay you minimum salary so you actually show up…But you need 9,000,000,00 more dollars?????????????????totally selfish!!!! The Owners are what they are!!! OWNERS!!!! YOU work for them!!! They dont work for you!!! Its YOUR job to manage your finances!!! If you cant do that, Then the wonderlic test is a waste of time cuz u all FAIL!!!!

  7. Kenneth Tabor says

    the letter wasnt one sided. I think the Union is being ridiculous and like always, we fans are the ones that pay for this ludicrous crap. I think all unions should be abolished. Problem with all unions, it’s never enough. I know for a fact there are players that didnt make it to the NFL that would gladly do what these millionaire players make for a fraction of the pay. This article is crap and must be union funded.

  8. Someone should mark down Kenneth Tabor as one of the aliases (aliaii?) of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker…

    For the record, never been in a union, and I only know one person who actually has been.

  9. I am a union man and there things you need to fight for, if you don’t make a stand for what you have you may choose to lose a lot more. Unions protect the working man, yes the owners are the employers but unions keep them in check to protect the workers interest or workers will get run over by big business and employers………Union Proud make it work

  10. I am genuinely surprised that some people want to take the side of owners! Other than the simple fact that salary cap needs to be established, there is not a single piece of topic that I agree with owners!

    Well ok, so being an owner I would not show the financial statements to the players (who are essentially my employees). But asking for an additional $1billion from players in the name of expenses is completely B.S’ing the players!

    To top it 18games regular season is another stupidity. Yes as a fan, it means more football to me, but heck, it certainly destroys their body. Its not the owners who endanger themselves!! The players certainly earn their millions of dollars! Boy am I glad Rooney is with owners (at least one man who is against 18game regular season).

    I think the owners should just buckle up, extend the current CBA, except add in a rookie salary cap (so that unproven players donot make a unworthy killing just cos they were flashy in college in spread offense or something- JaMarcus Russell anyone??).

    The owners make heck a lot of money from networks, sale of tickets and sale of merchandise! The salary cap for 2009 was just about 13% of a Billion and the owners were making more than that in most cases!

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