Panthers in primetime on NFL Network

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The Carolina Panthers and Miami Dolphins do not play until Thursday night, but NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell talked about the upcoming game on the NFL Network while in Charlotte on Monday. In fact, the first broadcast trucks from the NFL Network arrived at Bank of America Stadium later in the day for the Panthers' second appearance on national television this season and their second-ever game televised by the NFL Network, the other coming against Dallas in 2007.

"We're tremendously excited about it. It's the only network that's dedicated to football 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The negative is we're still struggling with some distribution," said Goodell of the six-year old channel. "So we're disappointed that Time Warner is not carrying the NFL Network. We believe it's in the best interest of their consumers. But we'll continue to push on."

More than 53 million homes across the United States will have the opportunity to watch the game on the NFL Network. Locally, in addition to the NFL Network, fans will be able to see the game on WAXN-TV 64 in the 22-county Charlotte television market. Outside of the Charlotte market, only people who have the NFL Network from the Dish Network or Direct TV on satellite or Comcast and a few other cable systems in North and South Carolina will be able to view the broadcast. The game will not be carried by Time Warner Cable systems outside of Charlotte throughout the Carolinas.

"It's pretty clear that a market has been established, that there is a clear demand for the product. It's gotten a tremendous reaction, and this year we've added the RedZone (channel)," Goodell said. "So the fact that they're still denying their consumers the ability to have the NFL Network and the RedZone is frustrating for us."

While at Bank of America Stadium, Goodell met with Carolina Panthers Owner/Founder Jerry Richardson before attending a speaking engagement at Davidson College Monday night. Nine months removed from receiving a heart transplant, Goodell said Richardson looks good and is involved again in league matters.

"He looks real good. He's lost so much weight," Goodell said. "He looks so good he's motivating me to go back and lose some weight. He looks great and he's very engaged. It's just terrific to see him doing so well after all he's been through."

Richardson has wasted little time resuming active participation on league committees. He plays a prominent role as co-chair of the labor committee that is trying to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement between the owners and players.

"He's played a very valuable role for us. He continues to talk to all 32 teams on a regular basis," Goodell said. "He's in very close contact with myself and Jeff Pash, our league negotiator."

A former NFL player, Richardson offers a unique perspective on negotiations. He played two seasons for the Baltimore Colts from 1959-60 and then had a successful business career before becoming just the second former player - along with George Halas of the Chicago Bears - to own an NFL team. Also on the committee is Green Bay Packers President Mark Murphy, another former NFL player with the Washington Redskins from 1977-84.

"I think both of those individuals bring a tremendous perspective about where negotiations have come from, where are they now, what do the players think is important," Goodell said. "They continue to have communications and dialog, and I think that's important. We want the players to do well; we want the game to do well; and we want the owners to do well."

Goodell also spent time with other members of the Panthers' management team discussing a variety of NFL-related issues during his visit. One person he got to know better was new team president Danny Morrison, of whom Goodell spoke favorably.

"He's a very impressive guy who has a tremendous background that brings a lot to the Carolina Panthers and the NFL," Goodell said.

"I've known Danny for several years. Actually, when he was commissioner of the Southern Conference, he came up and spent a day in our offices talking a little bit about our business and what he needed to be doing at the Southern Conference. And he was up again last Friday in our (league) offices and he spent a day with our senior team, sort of giving him a little orientation to some extent."

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