Obama: NFL should be able to work it out without me

President Barack Obama makes an opening statement during his joint news conference with Mexican President Felipe Calderon, Thursday, March 3, 2011, in the East Room of the White House in Washington. AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

President Obama said Thursday that the owners and players of the National Football League, which is now on the verge of a lockout, should be able to work out their differences without presidential intervention.

"We've got owners, most of whom are worth close to $1 billion, you've got players who are making millions of dollars," he said. "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."

President Barack Obama
President Barack Obama at his joint news conference with Mexican President Felipe Calderon, Thursday, March 3, 2011, in the East Room of the White House in Washington.
AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

"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," added Mr. Obama. "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."

Mr. Obama made the comments after being asked during a joint appearance with Mexican President Filipe Calderon why he hadn't gotten involved in the dispute, which could mean the cancellation or curtailment of the 2011-2012 NFL season.

Calderon also weighed in on the labor dispute, saying he isn't much of a football fan but his wife is concerned about the situation.  He added that "football is very important for many Mexicans."

The comments prompted a quip from Mr. Obama.

"I will say that at the state dinner the first lady of Mexico seemed quite excited to see Mark Sanchez there," he said, prompting laughter. "I don't know if that was of concern for you."

Calderon responded that he was unfazed and noted his wife had participated in a coin flip at a Jets game.

More from the press conference:

Obama: Qaddafi has lost legitimacy and must leave
Obama: I believe in the Second Amendment
Obama: Mexico has "full partner" in drug wars

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