NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell continued his series of conference calls with season ticket holders in NFL cities Monday by conducting a chat with Bills supporters.
The session lasted about 45 minutes, 15 longer than usual because technical difficulties prevented calls from getting through. Goodell was taking a break from the federally mediated talks the resumed Monday between the league and its players, but was patient in waiting for the glitches to be worked out.
Goodell didn't break any new ground Monday. Predictably, he gave the NFL's side of the ongoing labor unrest while also blaming the players' attorneys for choosing "litigation over negotiation.'' The lockout has dragged on, but Goodell was off base saying it's totally the fault of the attorneys.
Goodell told the callers he is hopeful a new collective bargaining agreement will get done in time to save the 2011 season.
"I think we need to remove that uncertainty," he said. "I think there's still time to do that and still have great competitive football that you all expect. Time is running short. It's time to get back to the [negotiating] table and get those issues resolved."
The Bills' long-term viability in Western New York is a hot-button topic that was raised on Monday's call. One season ticket holder from Toronto asked if Goodell could ensure the Bills would remain here. Naturally, Goodell didn't guarantee anything because he can't. But he emphasized the organization is doing everything it can to stay here, including playing games in Toronto.
"We certainly hope the Buffalo Bills continue to be in Western New York," said Goodell, who added the continued fan support is a must. "As a Western New York guy (Jamestown native), I know how important it is to that region and how passionate our fans are there.
"The effort we've been going through with the Buffalo Bills and the business leaders in the surrounding areas is to regionalize the team and to draw from a broader area, including Southern Ontario and the Toronto area. I believe that'll be good for the Bills to be successful in Buffalo."
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