Roger Goodell was hired by the owners but makes it clear that he's a commissioner for everyone in the NFL, including the league's greatest asset--the players.
He formed a player advisory committee last week that includes Tony Dungy, Kurt Warner, Ray Lewis and Brian Dawkins, but took communication with the players a step further when he met with Bears players this morning at Halas Hall in a 30-minute question-and-answer session.
"They have a variety of concerns. They talk about the business, the future. We talk a lot about player safety,'' Goodell said as he left the facility. "They talk about what happens on the field, the quality of the game, what we could be doing better. I really encourage them to bring to me what they think needs to be addressed both on and off the field."
The business players want to know about is the labor situation with the league facing an uncapped year in 2010 if an extension of the collective bargaining agreement cannot be reached. Player safety is an issue gaining focus as concussions remain in the forefront. But the main story between now and March will be whether or not the owners and players can get together and reach an accord.
"I think the most encouraging thing is that people are talking and they're addressing issues,'' Goodell said. "The negotiating team for the owners and the negotiating team for the players are talking. I think that is the most positive thing because it is going to get resolved at the negotiating table."
Regular talks have been held and Goodell doesn't believe getting to the bargaining table will be the issue.
"I don't think it's a matter of not meeting enough,'' he said. "I think both sides are willing to meet as frequently as necessary."
Whether or not the players can find what they're looking for at the bargaining table remains to be seen. It's a positive step that Goodell wants to get out and hear from the players. He's not talking to them as much as much as he's listening to them. That's all the players can ask for, right? We'll see what kind of reaction they had to his visit after practice. Check back later on for more.