CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson, one of the leaders in labor talks between the NFL and its players, said negotiations are not going well.
“I personally am not as optimistic as some are that we are making much progress,’’ Richardson said as he held his first press conference in nine years to discuss the departure of John Fox and the coaching search that has just begun.
Richardson’s words come just days after commissioner Roger Goodell sent an e-mail to an estimated five million fans saying he was optimistic a deal could be worked out. But a source close to the situation said Goodell had knowledge of what Richardson planned to say and didn’t discourage it.
Richardson drew a chart to display how money has been divided between teams and players in recent years and said teams are operating with a negative cash flow. He said lawyers for the players’ association have repeatedly asked for “more money and less work’’.
Richardson and Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen are the co-chairmen of the league’s labor committee. Richardson is the only owner to play in the league. He was with the Baltimore Colts and Johnny Unitas in the late 1950s. Richardson and Bowlen were also the point men for the league in the Collective Bargaining Agreement that was reached in 2006.
Owners made the decision to opt out of the deal in 2008 and the agreement ends at the end of this season. There is a March 3 deadline for a deal to be reached and owners have said a lockout will follow if there is no agreement.
“I’m not optimistic we are making a lot of progress,’’ Richardson said.
Richardson didn't go into much detail on the coaching search. He and general manager Marty Hurney said the team will consider all avenues, but indicated they would prefer to hire a coordinator from another team. The Panthers already have asked for permission to interview Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell and San Diego defensive coordinator Ron Rivera. Richardson also said there has been no contact with Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh.