Roger Goodell recognized the questioner, even kidded him.
Chad Ochocinco was in no joking mood.
The Bengals receiver, reporting for his own OCNN network, stood up at Goodell’s annual Super Bowl news conference Friday in Dallas and asked the NFL commissioner how close the league and players union were to a new contract that would avoid a work stoppage.
“I can tell you the commitment on behalf of the ownership is on getting an agreement,” Goodell said. “This is the window of opportunity to get this done right. Otherwise, uncertainty is going to seep into all of our operations. I say, let’s get to work; let’s get an agreement that works for everybody.”
Goodell and union officials were to meet today in Dallas, the first formal bargaining session since November. Two more sessions have been scheduled for next week, at an undisclosed location.
Goodell said it was imperative to have a deal before the collective bargaining agreement expires in a month.
“I frequently have said that I think March 4 is a very critical date,” Goodell said. “A lot of different strategies will take place if we’re not successful in getting an agreement by that time.”
Asked whether the owners will lock out the players, Goodell replied: “We have not made any determination with what will happen on March 4.”
The union has said it expects to be locked out if there is no agreement.
“Status quo is not acceptable,” Goodell said.
Goodell has vowed to drop his salary from nearly $10 million, including bonuses, to $1 if there is a work stoppage.
ROOKIES OF THE YEAR
St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford was named the AP’s 2010 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh was the AP’s Defensive Rookie of the Year.
The first overall selection in last year’s draft, Bradford guided the Rams to a 7-9 record, up from 1-15 the season before. He earned 44 votes from a nationwide panel of 50 media members who regularly cover the league.
“I think the more I’m out there, the more comfortable I become,” Bradford said.
Suh, the second overall choice in the draft, had 66 tackles and 10 sacks to help lift the Lions to a 6-10 record.
He received 48 votes from the 50 voters.
“I was fortunate to be able to grasp my role in our scheme and to flourish in it,” Suh said.
Rookie center Maurkice Pouncey of the Pittsburgh Steelers will be sidelined for the Super Bowl.
He has a high-ankle sprain that has kept him out of practice since he was hurt in the AFC title game, Jan. 23.
“He’s out,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin told a pool reporter Friday after the team completed its final full practice indoors at TCU.
Backup Doug Legursky will play in his place in what will be his first NFL start as a center.
Washington Redskins defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth has been accused of assault in what police called a case of road rage in the Virginia suburbs of Washington. The Packers took their official Super Bowl team photo just before practice Friday, and it included injured players Nick Barnett (linebacker) and Jermichael Finley (tight end), who complained last week that they would be excluded. Redskins owner Daniel Snyder will proceed with his defamation lawsuit against the weekly Washington City Paper, saying a column and doctored picture of him “crossed the line; it’s that simple.” Tennessee interviewed its first two outside candidates to replace coach Jeff Fisher: Atlanta offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey and New York Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell. ... Carolina hired John Settle as running backs coach.