Goodell should address cap penalty issue

PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Those Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys fans hoping to get some explanation from the NFL about the salary cap penalties levied against their teams are going to be waiting for a while. Asked about the matter in his news conference Monday night at the NFL owners meetings, commissioner Roger Goodell declined to comment.

"We put out a release on this, and we're not going to have any comment beyond that," Goodell said.

The NFL released a statement Monday afternoon, and the statement ended by saying the league and clubs would have no further comment on the matter. Redskins owner Daniel Snyder and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones did discuss the matter with the league's other owners in a morning meeting, according to a source with knowledge of what happened in the meeting, and those two owners were then asked to leave the room so the remaining 30 owners could discuss the issue among themselves. It's unclear what was discussed, other than the apparent decision not to talk about the matter publicly so long as it remains a pending case for arbitrator Stephen Burbank.

This is, in the opinion of this reporter, pretty weak. Goodell spent a good portion of his news conference talking about the importance of increased transparency to fans. There were 19 fans invited to sit in on the afternoon session of the meetings and discuss issues with the owners in an open forum. Four of those fans were invited to speak to the media at the end of Goodell's Monday news conference (though, to their credit, nearly all of the media exited the room rather than function as props for the league's propaganda effort).

Fans of the Redskins and Cowboys are looking for further explanation about what their teams did to deserve to lose $36 million and $10 million worth of salary cap space, respectively, over the next two years. For the league to talk about transparency one minute and to hide that explanation behind a mutually agreed-upon gag order the next feels like a failure to practice what they preach. Giants owner John Mara, who chairs the NFL Management Council that imposed the penalties, discussed the issue Sunday before the gag order went into effect, but more detail is needed for fans to truly understand what went on, and the NFL does not, apparently, believe it needs to offer it.

The Cowboys and Redskins also were declining comment Monday, though Goodell did say Snyder and Jones were welcome to speak to the media about what they said in their address to their fellow owners if they so chose. As I wrote earlier in the day, the way the Cowboys and Redskins are acting about this makes me think they believe they have a strong case and can win in front of Burbank. The way Goodell and the league are acting about it reinforces my belief that they just wish it would go away.