NFL commissioner Roger Goodell says he hopes the pessimism from the players’ union regarding labor talks doesn’t become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Speaking on Friday at his annual Super Bowl-week news conference, Goodell said fans “expect solutions ... and we should deliver” on a new collective bargaining agreement.
NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith said Thursday the union views the chance of a lockout in 2011 as a “14” on a scale of 1 to 10 after the current labor agreement expires.
“I sure hope he’s wrong,” Goodell said. “Right now, we don’t need a lot of focus on that.”
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Goodell has also said he doesn’t agree with the union’s claim that owners are insisting on an 18 percent player pay cut.
“The players should be paid fairly and they should be paid well. And I assure you that they will,” Goodell said.
Wayne aggravates knee
Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne left practice 20 minutes early Friday after aggravating a right-knee injury. He was able to walk off the field and is listed as probable for Sunday’s game.
Colts coach Jim Caldwell said he didn’t think it was serious, saying Wayne “just irritated the fat pad in his knee,” and has been managing the pain all season.
Defensive end Dwight Freeney remained sidelined with a third-degree sprained ankle and is listed as questionable.
Colts cornerback Jarraud Powers (foot) and Saints cornerback Randall Gay (foot) are both expected to play. Reserve Saints running back Lynell Hamilton (ankle) is questionable.
Bears promote Marinelli
Unable to find outside help, the Chicago Bears have promoted Rod Marinelli from line coach to defensive coordinator, coach Lovie Smith said.
Marinelli also retains his assistant head coach title.
Irvin accused, then fired
Michael Irvin, in South Florida for the Super Bowl, was fired by ESPN-FM (103.3) in Dallas.
Pete Dits, the station’s general manager, said ratings and Irvin’s salary were reasons for the firing. He added that news that Irvin was being sued for an alleged rape sped up the process.
A South Florida woman sued Irvin on Thursday for allegedly raping her in July 2007 in a hotel room. No criminal charges have been filed. On Friday, Irvin filed a $100 million countersuit.
Irvin is also a TV analyst for NFL Network. He’s expected to continue that show with programs due today and Sunday.
Emmitt Smith and Jerry Rice are virtual shoo-ins for election into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. They are among 17 finalists to be considered today. ... Patriots coach Bill Belichick said he will take a larger role in overseeing the defense and not hire a coordinator to replace Dean Pees. ... Browns receiver Donte’ Stallworth will be reinstated from his suspension for killing a pedestrian while driving drunk, commissioner Roger Goodell announced. ... U.S. customs officials say nearly 17,600 Fox Sports NFL robot action figures seized at the Seattle waterfront last month were contaminated with lead paint.