News of NFL owners from the league’s Labor Committee and members of the Players’ Association’s executive committee as well as league commissioner Roger Goodell and PA head DeMaurice Smith holding a series of not-so-secret meetings to make progress toward a new collective bargaining agreement have been met with optimism, but listening to Patriots owner Robert Kraft this afternoon, the sides may not be making as much progress as has been hoped.
“Well, the head of the union and five players and different owners and the commissioner – we’re all focused on the issues and what’s good for the game, and trying to solve that, and I think that’s powerful,” Kraft said. “But I still think we’ve got a lot of hard work to do to resolve this and I hope that keeps happening.”
Throughout this long and frustrating process, Kraft has consistently called for lawyers from both sides to be kicked out of the negotiating room. Save for Smith, who is an attorney, that has been the case with the meetings in suburban Chicago last week and Long Island this week.
Kraft, who was at both rounds of talks, was asked if he thinks it has helped.
“Well we’re talking about how we improve the game and how we solve our problems and the only issue is how do we get football back, no other agendas. I think that’s a very positive thing, but we still have a lot of hard work to do. A lot’s left to solve. At least we’re there talking to one another.”
Speaking at the Patriots’ annual Community MVP event, Kraft emphasized the importance of having both sides at the table talking – which hasn’t always been the case – and the importance of getting something done so football can resume normal operations again.
“For me there has always been a sense if urgency because we have the greatest game in America and we have a lot of people depending on this game, not just people working in this building – service people, support people. I think on Sundays, it’s part of Americana,” Kraft said. “People plan their day around (watching football).”