Posted: 7:30 p.m.
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - NFL commissioner Roger Goodell disputed the NFL Players Association's claim Friday that the league has taken steps to lock the players out of the 2011 season and he says they are still trying to obtain enough progress during the next month to prevent the disposal of the salary cap when free agency opens March 5.
But the gap in the two sides crystallized with key owners such as Steelers president Dan Rooney saying the players have to realize that the proposed 18-percent cut in revenues for players is being dictated by economic factors and the rise in the teams' costs.
"They should be willing to do this because if you make a deal they're going to get a big percentage of the money," Rooney said. "You've got to look at the cost. If you're going to try and risk things you've got to have a return."
Goodell also tried to defuse Thursday's pronouncement by NFLPA chief DeMaurice Smith that once there is no cap March 5 there won't be another one in a new deal.
"There has been a lot of discussion in the public including by DeMaurice that the salary cap has been good for the players, it's been good for the game," Goodell said. "I would hope that he doesn't take things off the table that are good for the game and that we all sit down and try to be reasonable and try to be fair.
"Our focus would be, let's try to get a labor agreement as early as possible, as quickly as possible and let's not stake a lot of positions out in the public."
In 2006, just two owners, the Bengals' Mike Brown and the Bills' Ralph Wilson, voted against a collective bargaining agreement extension that an overwhelming majority of owners now repudiate.
"I think there are a lot of owners asking the same question: 'Why did I vote for this agreement?' " Goodell said. "There are things that we agreed to that we shouldn't have. We need to go back and get that fixed. There are a lot of changes in the NFL economics over the years. Most specifically, the investments they are making in stadiums and operating those stadiums and the capital improvements required for those stadiums. That takes a significant investment that we didn't have 20 years ago and our system has to recognize that."
Goodell, a native New Yorker, is staying out of the Giants' and Jets' controversial bid for the 2014 Super Bowl. Their new stadium, which opens this season, doesn't have a roof and it would make it the coldest Super Bowl in history. Although Rooney is close to Giants ownership, he was hesitant to offer support and thinks the weather is going to be an issue.
"Is there going to be a roof?" he asked reporters and when he got the answer he knew he said, "Then they're going to have some trouble. There are a lot of people who think we should be in warm climate all the time. Even when it was in (domes) in Minnesota and Detroit they were concerned. The weather would have to be considered."
Told some of the greatest games ever have been in bad weather, Rooney said, "That's true, but it's still cold."
The Ochocinco News Network surfaced at Goodell's news conference and when Redskins tight end Chris Cooley asked a question, Goodell asked, "Where's Chad?"
The Ocho leads the league in uniform fines so Cooley told him that he couldn't make it and asked, "There's obviously a lot of shenanigans with players going on, on and off the field. Talk a little bit about the uniform fine rule, your decision process in that and are there any alternatives for you fining the players besides cash?"
But Goodell played it straight when he answered, "Whether it's an on-field rule with the uniforms, we are a team game and we represent our teams and we should represent them in a professional and standard fashion."
SPARRING PARTNER: A few days after signing to fight Floyd Mayweather Jr., welterweight champion Shane "Sugar" Mosley shadowboxed ever so briefly with Ochocinco on Friday. There were no gloves, so it wasn't exactly a showdown on a yacht where Reebok unveiled the new Zig Tech shoe with The Ocho, Mosley, Giants quarterback Eli Manning and Steelers wide receiver Santonio Holmes, among others. The Ocho got a head start on the offseason boxing regimen that he says revived his career last year.
It lasted all of about 30 seconds and The Ocho did surprise Mosley with a right hook that he batted away at the last minute. But it looked like Mosley though it was over. No slaps landed.
"You can tell he went to the gym. He's been working on the boxing trade," Mosley said. "I've been doing this for 30 years. A little longer than him ... I got him a few times. ... You just can't go full time from football to boxing. You can see he's actually been working out. I see him do a turn here and there. He's been working on the trade.
"I've watched him play a few times. He's a good player. He's exciting and I think he's good for the sport of football."
Manning's father, Archie, was also on the boat and you'd figure the old school Saint would have a tough time with The Ocho's antics. Not so.
"I spent some time with him a few years ago at Disney. Battle of the NFL Stars," Manning said. "I really like him. I think he's good for the game. His heart is good and he can play. It takes all types. He's a heck of a player."
STALLWORTH REINSTATED: Here's a name that will no doubt get linked to the Bengals eventually: A troubled wide receiver looking for a second chance. Goodell said Friday that the Browns' Donte Stallworth is going to be reinstated after the Super Bowl a year following his DUI manslaughter charge. With a new front office, Cleveland is expected to cut him.