President Obama weighed in Thursday on the NFL's ongoing labor issues by saying the league's owners and players should be able to come to a resolution without presidential intervention. The president implied that he would get involved if necessary, however.
He was asked about the league's potential lockout during a joint press conference with Mexican President Felipe Calderon.
"We've got owners, most of whom are worth close to $1 billion, you've got players who are making millions of dollars. My working assumption at a time when people are having to cut back, compromise, and worry about making the mortgage and, you know, paying for their kids' college education, is that the two parties should be able to work it out without the President of the United States intervening.
"I'm a big football fan, but I also think that for an industry that's making $9 billion a year in revenue, they can figure out how to divide it up in a sensible way. And be true to their fans, who are the ones who, obviously, allow for all the money that they're making. So my expectation and hope is that they'll resolve it without me intervening, because it turns out I've got a lot of other stuff to do."
Wading through the Washington-speak, it sounds like Obama has no intention of getting involved in the dispute but will do so if it becomes necessary. Whether that would come sooner or later in a potential lockout was left unsaid, but the tone suggests that a presidential intervention would be a political Hail Mary.
You can already hear the chorus of detractors asking why the president is involving himself in sports negotiations while there are other problems that warrant his attention. While I'd rather hear the president talk about Libya or gas prices or union uprisings in Wisconsin too, you can't begrudge him for answering a question. He didn't bring up football, a member of the press did.
Hours before the end of the NFL's collective bargaining agreement, the owners and players were discussing a possible extension which would allow talks to continue without union decertification or an owner's lockout.