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Goodell paints bright picture

He thinks CBA can be reached

At UMass-Lowell, Roger Goodell stressed the importance of persistence. At UMass-Lowell, Roger Goodell stressed the importance of persistence. (Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff)
By Shalise Manza Young
Globe Staff / May 30, 2010

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LOWELL — NFL commissioner Roger Goodell expressed confidence that the league and the Players’ Association will come to a new collective bargaining agreement before the 2011 season.

Speaking yesterday after addressing the graduates at UMass-Lowell, where he and his brothers also accepted a posthumous doctorate of human letters on behalf of their father, Senator Charles Goodell (R-N.Y.), Roger Goodell was asked about the status of talks.

“There’s really no specific update on the negotiations at this time,’’ Goodell said. “We do have meetings scheduled in the next few weeks and we do have work to do. But there’s still a lot of football to be played, so we’re going to be playing this season with absolutely no interruption, and it’s not unusual that we are where we are. I don’t think any of us are surprised.

“We need to get to work, but there will be an agreement.’’

Goodell and Patriots owner Robert Kraft held a joint news conference; Kraft was on hand to introduce the commissioner to the crowd at Tsongas Center. The two are longtime friends, and Kraft played a prominent role in getting Goodell approved for his position in 2006.

In the wake of New York/New Jersey winning approval to host the 2014 Super Bowl last week, there has been chatter about the possibility of other cold-weather locales hosting the game. But New England seems unlikely.

Kraft said the “ship has sailed’’ on the possibility of a Super Bowl in Foxborough, and Goodell believes New York is a special case.

“New York is a very unique opportunity,’’ he said. “Obviously it is one of the great cities of the world, the largest media market, and [the Giants and Jets are] going into a brand-new stadium, but let’s see how the success is. We expect this to be great for the NFL, for our fans, for the game, and if it is successful we’ll go from there.’’

Kraft feels playing the Super Bowl in the shadow of New York City is a significant accomplishment after 9/11, as well as a reward to the owners of the Jets and Giants, who privately financed a large chunk of the New Meadowlands Stadium, which cost well over $1 billion, and their fans.

“I’m excited about the game, really excited about the game. I think games should be played outside, I think elements should be part of it,’’ said Kraft, whose team went to the Super Bowl following the 2001 season after winning one of the most famous snow games in league history.

Goodell was touched by UMass-Lowell’s decision to honor his father, who lost his re-election bid in 1970 in part because of his decision to deviate from his party’s stance on the Vietnam War.

“My father had the courage to stick to his principles, no matter what the consequences,’’ Goodell told the graduates. “People may not know that initially he supported the Vietnam War. He always supported our troops. But over time he listened, listened to students like you. I want you to know that your voice is important.

“It was my father’s principles, integrity, and character that left an important legacy. Remember, it’s not what you do, but how you do it. Have the courage to do what you believe in.’’

Afterward, Goodell spoke more about his father being honored.

“I get very emotional when I think about my father. He had such a tremendous influence on us as boys, so the five of us were obviously tremendously honored. But also, I was very anxious to do it, because I think the world needs to hear the story about my father, not just his specific decisions, but we lived in a very difficult time in the ’60s. Leadership was important [as was] the courage to speak up and do what’s right, and we could use more of that today — leadership, courage, and the willingness to do what’s best.’’

Goodell also shared his story of persistence with the graduates. Early on, he determined that he wanted to be NFL commissioner, and when he was in college he wrote more than 40 letters requesting an internship or job with the league. Finally he was hired for a three-month internship. Nearly 30 years later, he is still with the NFL.

Shalise Manza Young can be reached at syoung@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @shalisemyoung.

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