Yesterday was a red letter day for SB Nation. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL Negotiator Jeff Pash gave 30 minutes of their time to conduct a Q&A conference call with our NFL bloggers. It was an unprecedented event to be given access to such high-profile figures, at such a critical time in the league's history. It was also very shrewd grass-roots public relations on the part of the NFL.
When addressing the public, both the NFL and the players themselves sheepishly acknowledge the perception that anyone who's squabbling over their share of some nine billion dollars doesn't deserve our symapthy. And that's why they prefer to steer the conversation towards rules, and player safety, and how gosh-darn much it pains them, that the other side is preventing the fans from seeing the game we all love so much.
With their ownership of the NFL Network, NFL.Com, and NFLLabor.com, the league exercises a veritable stranglehold on disseminating lockout news. They have the upper hand when it comes to releasing, and spinning any information that comes from the process.
That Goodell and Pash took the time to answer questions from SB Nation NFL bloggers says two things: it tells you that the NFL ownership is leaving no avenue untravelled in their attempt to get their side of the story out, but more importantly, it also tells you something about the emergence of fan-based sports reporting in general, and SBnation.com, in particular. We are a force to be reckoned with. I believe it's the future of sports talk. These blogs are full of knowledgeable and engaged followers. The work they do for these sites is done out of passion for the sport. We are the people both sides should be addressing.
And if anyone would dismiss our work as that of 'armchair quarterbacks' or 'fanboys', I urge you follow these links to some of SB Nation's NFL blogs. Given the opportunity to speak with the most powerful man in the NFL, these bloggers, far from being star-struck or intimidated, asked the right questions, and listened closely to what was really being said.
Too often, sports journalism reads like material copied off of press releases. It can be a process that serves to fill space in papers, more than inform.
But not here. These are the questions that real fans want answered. Enjoy.
You can follow links from those stories to every NFL team's SB Nation blog for more.