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DALLAS (AP) — Roger Goodell recognized the questioner, even kidded him.
Chad Ochocinco was in no joking mood.
The Bengals receiver, reporting for his own OCNN network, stood up at Goodell’s annual Super Bowl news conference Friday and asked the NFL commissioner how close the league and players union were to a new contract that would avoid a potential lockout.
“I can tell you the commitment on behalf of the ownership is on getting an agreement,” Goodell said. “This is the window of opportunity to get this done right. Otherwise, uncertainty is going to seep into all of our operations. ... I say, let’s get to work, let’s get an agreement that works for everybody.”
Goodell and union officials were to meet Saturday in Dallas, the first formal bargaining session since November.
Two more sessions have been scheduled for next week, at an undisclosed location.
Goodell said it was imperative to have a deal before the collective bargaining agreement expires in a month.
“I frequently have said that I think March 4 is a very critical date,” Goodell said. “A lot of different strategies will take place if we’re not successful in getting an agreement by that time.”