Today, Clark Hunt, Chairman and CEO of the Kansas City Chiefs, as well as NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, participated in a live conference call held exclusively for Chiefs season ticket holders. The 30-minute discussion, moderated by the voice of the Chiefs, Mitch Holthus, did not provide any specific online sports marketing information, but it did contain some additional perspective regarding some of the threats currently facing the NFL.
The entire call is now available on the Chiefs homepage, but it cannot be said whether a page will be created so this audio file can be accessed in the coming weeks or if a transcript will be made available. To be safe, and because I think much of this is worth sharing, I have provided my paraphrased notes of the call, along with some Online Sports Marketing Guy commentary.
Note: There were approximately 10 questions during the call with seven directed at Commissioner Goodell and three directed at Clark Hunt. I have only provided notes on the topics I feel are pertinent to a national audience. I also re-emphasize that, while every effort was made to capture the true position of the speaker, these are paraphrased notes. If you have 30 minutes, listen to the call at the Chiefs homepage while it is still available.
Fan: Are we making progress in the negotiations?
Goodell: I don’t think we are because we aren’t having them.
OSM Guy: This was a pretty simple answer for the commissioner, and he was very candid about the situation. I still sense a tone whenever the contract negotiations come up that Goodell is strongly portraying a sympathy for the fans and trying to earn advocates for the owners.
Fan: When will a resolution be reached between the NFL and Time Warner cable?
Goodell: NFL Network is in 62 million homes, but we have not been able to reach an agreement with Time Warner cable.
OSM Guy: I once tweeted at Rich Eisen of the NFL Network after he called a fan stupid for running on the field since nobody would see it anyway (most professional leagues have a policy in place that prevents these episodes from being telecast). I said “Oh, I get it, because nobody has NFL Network, good one.” He didn’t respond…. oh well.
Fan: Why am I paying full price for the preseason games?
Goodell: It’s something we’ve got to figure out. It’s one of the reasons we have proposed the 18 and 2 format. We are going to look for every possibility to improve the preseason. I hear this question consistently from fans.
OSM Guy: This was by far my favorite question of the day and I’m grateful the Chiefs selected this as one of the few questions to air. The NFL’s preseason is the worst of all major sports leagues, but continues to be the highest priced. It is a tax on season ticket holders, plain and simple, and an insult to our intelligence.
Later in the call, Goodell talked about the 18 and 2 format again as a way to provide value – “We are sensitive to the price of attending NFL games.”
Fan: What’s the latest date a deal could be reached for the season to be salvaged. Will you consider using replacement players?
Goodell: Replacement players are not part of our strategy and we have not considered it. We do not have a specific date, but we have some flexibility in the scheduling.
OSM Guy: Call it a hunch, but I think the NFL and the players are going to handle this Brett Favre-style, and show up just in time.
Fan: What is the mood of the players? This has to impact their mood and their desire to play.
Goodell: I believe NFL players want to play football and will be ready to go as soon as we get this resolved.
OSM Guy: A.K.A. I believe NFL players want money and will be ready to go as soon as we get this resolved.
Fan: What assurances can we have from you that we aren’t going to cook the golden goose? I’m afraid of this situation damaging the league long-term.
Goodell: I agree with you that if we are unsuccessful with getting this done, that our league can be damaged. There are several issues that need to be addressed beyond the CBA to ensure this continues to be a great game for fans. We want to maintain the processes that make it possible for all 32 teams to have a chance to win the Super Bowl at the beginning of the season.
Clark Hunt: It’s incredibly important that we have a CBA that’s good for all 32 clubs. We do not want an agreement that goes in the way of professional baseball.
OSM Guy: Quote of the day goes to Clark Hunt. I love that he openly threw a zinger at the competitive imbalance that has plagued other Kansas City sports franchises.
I would just like to conclude by saying no matter whose side you are on, you have to admire the NFL’s leadership for frequently talking in public, and directly with the public, during a time when they are loathed by many. I have to believe that the owners are too smart to distance themselves from fans, taking a major hit in the pocketbook, by missing games this season. If they do decide to forfeit their position atop the pedestal of sports leagues, in the words of Antoine Dodson, “They are so dumb, they are really dumb…. for real.”
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