Dear Bengals fans,
The expiration of the NFL's Collective Bargaining Agreement has left everyone who loves pro football in a temporary state of uncertainty. But the Bengals continue to believe that our game will emerge from this period with unity between players and management, and with a better product for fans.
We love the emotional commitment of our fans, and we entirely understand that your emotions can turn negative when the upcoming season appears threatened. We fully acknowledge that our fan base—as well as the franchise and the players—has a stake in this. But again we want to say that the NFL's historic strength and popularity makes us optimistic that the season ultimately will proceed as planned.
Here at Paul Brown Stadium, our coaches and administrative staff are working full-time daily schedules. We are preparing intensely for the 2011 Draft, which will go on as scheduled, and we also will remain committed to full community involvement.
Though the 2010 season proved a disappointment to all of us, changes have been made, and we are excited about the prospect of regaining and surpassing our 2009 division championship level. We pledge to be ready to proceed when an agreement is reached and the players return.
The fastest way to a fair agreement is to continue negotiation through mediation—not litigation—and we are eager to return to the bargaining table. Just walking away from each other is not going to create a solution that works for the long-term good of everyone, including the fans.
Ownership made a number of significant concessions in the mediation process that went on until last Friday, and though the purpose of this message is not to score debating points, we feel compelled to state to you our sincere belief that the players walked away from a very generous offer. It didn't ask veteran players to take a step back financially, and it offered things that were important monetarily to retired players.
But labor negotiations in the NFL have gone through ups and downs over the years, and at some point the differences are resolved and the sides get back together. This one will be no different. We just need to get back to negotiations.
Though we hesitate to ask anything from fans at this point, we will request just a bit of your patience. The issues are complex, the calendar does give us a bit of time, and we want to get it done right. We realize the importance of staying in direct contact with you, and through our web site, public relations department and other means, we will do just that.
We thank you for your interest and will do our best to be fully responsive to your concerns. There is no NFL without the fans, and we are acutely aware that you are in no mood for foot-dragging in the continuation of this process.
And that's our "extra point."
(Note: To see archived versions of The Who Dey Perspective, click here.) *