NEW ORLEANS – There will be no Adrian Breen during this work stoppage.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Tuesday as he wrapped up the NFL meetings here at the Roosevelt Hotel that the league has not considered, discussed, or has any plans to use replacement players if the lockout bleeds into the regular season.
Goodell's first news conference since The Iron Curtain descended March 11 offered scant information on the labor stalemate that dominated the NFL's truncated annual meeting. He is still urging that the parties head back to the bargaining table and he offered the sides made a lot of progress "before the union pushed away from the table."
But he couldn't offer much hope that a deal would be done in time for a free-agency period before the April 28-30 draft. Or, for that matter, the April 6 hearing in St. Paul, Minn., in which the NFL Players Association is trying to win an injunction to stop the lockout.
The league did say that teams can have contact with their draft picks until Mr. Irrelevant is picked with the last pick of the draft. So the Bengals can do what they did last year and fly in their four top picks, meet the coaches and media, and get them on their way before the draft ends.
Goodell said five teams got fined for illegal offseason contact with players. Under the collective bargaining agreement that expired 11 days ago, there was a cone of darkness during January and February in which there could be no meetings with players, organized workouts, or playbooks handed out until the NFL year started that first week in March.
Some teams (the Browns and Dolphins are reportedly two of the five) apparently jumped the gun in an effort to get some work done before the lockout.
The league also said that while players won't be disciplined for violating the NFL's personnel conduct policy during the lockout, there could be punishment dealt after the lockout ends.
"It applies to everybody in the league," Goodell said. "It's something that I feel strongly about that we owe to our fans. We owe it to our game. The respect for the people that played the game before us and that were involved with the game before us."
Goodell is hoping the drafted players don't spurn the league's televised draft party with him as the master of ceremonies.
"It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for players to enjoy the success they have had and to start their career," he said. "To be able to do that on the stage and participate in the draft is a great moment for me personally, but also for the players and the families. I hope that is not denied and I hope the players are not put in the predicament of having to make that determination."
LAUNCH DELAYED: The owners decided to table to May a proposal to modify launching against a defenseless receiver.
During Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis's appearance at Tuesday's media breakfast, he got into a pretty heavy discussion of why he thinks the modern player is prone to taking shots rather than making solid tackles.
"We're asking guys to adjust their target. You always coach to keep their eyes and head up. When you lead with the head you risk injury to your own self," Lewis said. "You're taught in junior high to flex your hips and see your target and have your head move to the outside.
"Look at what's happened. When I was in high school the coaches were in the school, they were trained educators. Now they do something else. The people teaching the game they're not the educated people that we once had. That's why USA Football and the things we do, the clinics. We need to teach the coaches proper tackling."
MARVIN-OCHO ROUND 15: Lewis said it again Tuesday: Wide receiver Chad Ochocinco is under contract. But it doesn't sound like he's a fanatic about it. He ripped The Ocho's tryout this week for the Major Soccer League club in Kansas City with, "what has he ever done that he's completed? What circle has he ever connected?"
According to ProFootballTalk.com The Ocho then re-tweeted two rip jobs of Lewis from an online publication, one saying that Lewis keeps kissing Carson Palmer's butt while dissing Ochocinco and another calling Lewis a hypocrite.
That comes on top of Bengals president Mike Brown saying Monday that he wouldn't trade Palmer, but that the club wasn't allowed to trade The Ocho during the lockout.
Lewis did say The Ocho is his No. 1 receiver, but also said Jerome Simpson could be on the same path after he caught 20 balls in the last three games when The Ocho was hurt.
"When Chad got hurt, Jerome became the No. 1 receiver," Lewis said. "How many (games) did Chad play before he became the No. 1 receiver? I think Jerome will be fine."