NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and Eagles president Joe Banner participated in a conference call today, in which screened Eagles season ticketholders asked questions, mostly about the lockout, as one would expect. (Although the first guy who got through asked how come he hadn't gotten any special recognition for being a 50-year season ticketholder. Banner said he would look into that. After Banner handled the no-recognition guy, Banner's participation was minimal.)
Goodell, of course, wouldn't specify a drop-dead date for the 2011 season. It's way too early for that sort of talk. He said the criteria for viability would be "a credible season and a credible postseason."
A caller who lamented that the Eagles are being more adversely affected than most teams, because they can't trade Kevin Kolb, was told by Goodell that the commish "can't be concerned about any one team over the other teams."
A later questioner wondered whether a trade could have been agreed to during the brief thaw of the lockout during last month's draft, then executed when the league finally reopens for business. Goodell clarified that trade talks about players were not allowed during the draft, but he said two teams could have agreed on a deal before the lockout went into effect and could then carry through when the lockout ended. (Wonder if this has actually happened? Or if we'll ever know, if it has?)
The rest of the 37-minute session was unremarkable. Goodell hit the talking points he has made many times -- that the league cares about its fans, but needs what it considers a fair collective bargaining system, and that the way to a new CBA is through negotiation, not through litigation. (a cynic might conclude that negotiation is also the surest way to delay any resolution until players are missing regular season paychecks, which is when the owners will have the most leverage.)
Goodell underscored what seem to be universally very low expectations for the round of court-ordered mediation that is scheduled to start Monday, by barely alluding to that. He said the next significant date is June 3, when the St. Louis appeals court hears the NFL's case against Judge Susan Nelson's injunction against the lockout, which the St. Louis court has kept in effect by staying her ruling.
"I hope we will be able to get into some serious negotiations" before then, Goodell said, but he added that there seems little reason for optimism there.