Ricky Williams Moving-On, Goodell Makes Promise

Latest from Ricky Williams as noted from his own weekly radio address as well as the local Palm Beach Post is pretty clear.  Here is a link to the Post article, http://www.palmbeachpost.com/sports/dolphins/ .  Ricky feels it’s time to move on.  And he openly stated his opinions on the coaching and the Dolphins direction right now.  Just so you know, it ain’t pretty.

He’s got lot’s to say from Tony Sparano micro-managing the team and basically losing the locker room at the end of the season, to the fact he wants to be on a team that is upwardly mobile and winning championships.  And who can blame him?  The article, by the Post’s Ben Volin, provides direct quotes such as, “playing for the Dolphins under Sparano is  ‘not a great fit for me” and more.

It is looking like the start of a meltdown right now in Miami as some players such as Brandon Marshall and Ricky Williams talk about their frustration and desire to win despite difficulties that they’ve faced.

Perhaps the most revealing statements that Ricky made were that he intends to explore the free agent market now that his contract has expired.  He is not planning to retire right now.  But if the Dolphins are to see him again in 2011 they will not only have to negotiate well with him and his agent; they will need to demonstrate their intentions of reaching a higher caliber are for-real right now.  Possibly this can only be achieved with a new head coach.  My take: either Sparano goes or Ricky will leave.  Basically, Ricky’s statements are not a direct ultimatum but his intent is very lucid.

And just tonight, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell sent out a lengthly e-mail reassuring fans that the upcoming Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations would be taken seriously and a “solution that is fair to everyone” will be found.

With one of the most exciting regular seasons now completed and the playoffs about to begin, let me first thank you and all NFL fans for your incredible support. Many fans have been asking me where we stand on signing a new collective bargaining agreement with the players union. Let me update you and be clear at the outset:

I know we can and will reach an agreement.

My goal as Commissioner now is to help our teams and players find a solution that is fair to everyone and ensures that football becomes more popular, accessible, and fun. We want the next decade to be the best yet for our fans, and I’m ready to work day and night to make that happen.

The Commissioner is going to have his hands full and his negotiating position is right there out in the open with this e-mail.  I will provide the full text at the end of this article but you will notice that he references the current economy and the need for both sides to, “give a little”.  We’ll see how giving the NFL Players’ Association is feeling about things very soon, I am sure.  For the record though, my impression was that the Commissioner and the head of the NFLPA, DeMaurice Smith work well together and seemed to get along well as recently as early into the 2010 season.  I expect that an agreement will be reached probably during the NFL Preseason 2010.

Here is the text from Commissioner Goodell:

With one of the most exciting regular seasons now completed and the playoffs about to begin, let me first thank you and all NFL fans for your incredible support. Many fans have been asking me where we stand on signing a new collective bargaining agreement with the players union. Let me update you and be clear at the outset:

I know we can and will reach an agreement.

My goal as Commissioner now is to help our teams and players find a solution that is fair to everyone and ensures that football becomes more popular, accessible, and fun. We want the next decade to be the best yet for our fans, and I’m ready to work day and night to make that happen.

We’ve come a long way. Compare where we are today with 10 years ago. From player accountability to player safety, more and better television coverage, upgrading the in-stadium experience, innovations like the RedZone channel, the Draft in prime time and playing the Pro Bowl before the Super Bowl, we are focused on doing what’s best for the players, teams, and fans. My priority is and always will be the game and the fans who love our game.

The NFL is great because fans care deeply about it. Economic conditions, however, have changed dramatically inside and outside the NFL since 2006 when we negotiated the last CBA. A 10 percent unemployment rate hurts us all. Fans have limited budgets and rightly want the most for their money. I get it.

Yes, NFL players deserve to be paid well. Unfortunately, economic realities are forcing everyone to make tough choices and the NFL is no different.

These are not easy negotiations, but the outcome can be positive. If both sides give a little, everyone, including fans, will get a lot and the game will improve through innovation.

Even in difficult economic times, a new CBA presents us with the opportunity to secure the future of our game. You may ask how will the NFL look under this vision?

A significant change would be to resolve fan complaints about preseason by modifying our 20-game format. Fans tell us they don’t like the quality of the preseason games, and we’re listening. An enhanced season of 18 regular season and two preseason games would not add a single game for the players collectively, but would give fans more meaningful, high-quality football.

Our emphasis on player health and safety is absolutely essential to the future of our game. We are strictly enforcing rules that protect players from unnecessarily dangerous play, especially involving hits to the head. We are changing the “play through it” culture to a “player-first” culture to ensure that if a player has a head injury, he doesn’t play again until his health is certain. We are also addressing the potential wear-and-tear on players in the way they train in-season and off-season.

It’s not just the health of players that concerns us. We must ensure the health of the league. That includes a new system that properly compensates proven veterans and retired players by shifting some of the outrageous sums paid to many unproven rookies. Earlier this year, Sports Illustrated published a list of the 50 highest-paid American athletes that included five 2009 NFL rookies. Every other athlete on the list was a proven veteran. In 2009, NFL clubs contracted $1.2 billion to 256 drafted rookies with $585 million guaranteed before they had stepped on an NFL field.

Don’t get me wrong: top draft choices will continue to be highly paid. All we’re asking for is a return to common sense in paying our rookies. Other leagues have done this and we can too.

These improvements and more will lead to better football, plain and simple. A forward looking CBA that is fair to players and clubs will lead to a great future for the NFL and our fans.

My job is to represent the game — the fans, teams, players, coaches and business partners. Protecting the integrity of the game and ensuring it thrives is a responsibility I take very seriously.

This is about more than a labor agreement. It’s about the future of the NFL. We have to improve and will be relentless in our quest. The commitment to our fans is to make the NFL experience even better in the years ahead. With a responsible CBA, we will fulfill that vision.

Happy New Year and enjoy the playoffs.

My sentiments exactly.

-Bert Smith

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Tags: Brandon Marshall DeMaurice Smith NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell Ricky Williams

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