Goodell: NFL needs collective bargaining, not hurtful lawsuits

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wrote an op-ed column in The Wall Street Journal in which he said U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson's Monday ruling to end the league-imposed lockout "may significantly alter professional football as we know it."

According to Goodell, if the players have their way, "the NFL would be forced to operate in a dramatically different way." Wrote Goodell: "To be sure, their approach would benefit some star players and their agents (and, of course, the lawyers themselves). But virtually everyone else -- including the vast majority of players as well as the fans -- would suffer."

Goodell said the players' antitrust lawsuit against the league "attacks virtually every aspect of the current system, including the draft, the salary cap and free-agency rules, which collectively have been responsible for the quality and popularity of the game for nearly two decades." He also said players would enter the league as unrestricted free agents, free to market their services to any team, instead of being selected in the draft. And teams could spent as much or as little as they want on salaries.

"Is this the NFL that players want?" Goodell wrote. "A league where elite players attract enormous compensation and benefits while other players -- those lacking the glamour and bargaining power of the stars -- play for less money, fewer benefits and shorter careers than they have today? A league where the competitive ability of teams in smaller communities (Buffalo, New Orleans, Green Bay and others) is forever cast into doubt by blind adherence to free-market principles that favor teams in larger, better-situated markets?"

Added Goodell: "Is this the NFL that fans want? A league where carefully constructed rules proven to generate competitive balance -- close and exciting games every Sunday and close and exciting divisional and championship contests- -- are cast aside? Do the players and their lawyers have so little regard for the fans that they think this really serves their interests?"

Goodell concluded that "these outcomes are inevitable under any approach other than a comprehensive collective-bargaining agreement."

Nelson has given the NFL until 6 p.m. ET Wednesday to resubmit a request for a clarification on her ruling. The league previously had filed expedited motion for a stay that would put Nelson's decision on hold pending further appeals.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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