Players and owners viewing second round of mediation as a ruse?

The home of the NFL’s San Diego Chargers is shown in San Diego, California at Qualcomm Stadium March 15, 2011. The antitrust suit filed by NFL players against the league will be heard on April 6 in a federal court in Minnesota, according to court documents released on Monday. The hearing is to be heard by Judge Susan Nelson with the players asking for an injunction against the lockout declared by the NFL on Saturday. REUTERS/Mike Blake(UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Remember the report about how a new CBA could be in place by the time of the NFL draft? Well apparently fans can forget about that.

Just days after NFL Network’s Albert Breer reported that the CBA discusses were getting “serious,”’s Mike Freeman refutes Breer’s claims and labeled the current talks a “ruse.” After speaking with sources on both sides, Freeman believes this second round of mediation is just a “song and dance, ritualistic, done to satisfy Judge Susan Nelson.”

Great. Happy Monday, NFL Fans! There’s still no hope that there will be a season next year!

One thing that I found perplexing about Breer’s report is that he said the two sides were serious about this round of mediation, yet they weren’t going to meet over the weekend. If the players and owners were taking mediation seriously, wouldn’t they want to exhaust their time together by trying to iron out their issues over the weekend? After all, there’s no season next year. It’s not like the owners and players had something more important to take care of last weekend that they couldn’t continue mediation. I get that these people also have lives but if they were taking it seriously and if they were getting somewhere in talks, why halt the discussion?

If you want to remain optimistic about the situation, then sink your hope into Breer’s report. But if you want to be realistic, then Freeman’s story makes more sense. The players are still confident that Judge Nelson will rule in their favor, while the owners believe that they can reverse her decision on appeal. Freeman is probably right in that we’re right back to where we started when the owners locked the players out in March: Nowhere.

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Mediation between owners and players to begin on Thursday

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (R) and Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Charlie Batch (C) arrive for labor negotiations between NFL players and owners with federal mediation in Washington on March 3, 2011. The current collective bargaining agreement expires at midnight tonight and a lockout is possible but not definite if none is reached. UPI/Roger L. Wollenberg.

Judge Susan Nelson has ordered mediation between the players and owners to begin in Minneapolis on Thursday according to Judy Battista of the New York Times. Judge Arthur Boylan will apparently be the mediator.

The owners wanted mediation to resume under George Cohen, while the players wanted it to take place in federal court. Thus, Judge Nelson’s decision to have mediation begin under Judge Boylan is yet another victory for the players in the current CBA battle.

As points out, Peter King predicted on PFT Live on Monday morning that no Collective Bargaining Agreement will be reached soon. King expects a lockout injunction, which means there will be a football season next year but without a CBA (meaning 2011 will be an uncapped year, just as it was in 2010).

At this point, I would have to agree with King’s assessment of the situation in that there won’t be a CBA deal reached soon. The owners appear to be stalling so that the lockout goes into August or September where they can apply the most pressure financially. I’m sure the owners are thinking that if they can get into August or September, the players may start to press or turn against each other when they’re not collecting game checks every week. It’s not a bad strategy on their part, although fans will continue to suffer the longer the lockout goes on.

Hopefully this forced mediation will help, but it appears that we still have a long ways to go before the two sides come to an agreement.

Judge to impose forced mediation on owners and players?

David Boies, attorney for the National Football League (at microphone podium), speaks to the media after attending a federal court hearing regarding labor negotiations between the NFL and the NFL Players Association in St. Paul, April 6, 2011. Right of Boies is attorney Gregg Levy. REUTERS/Eric Miller (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL CRIME LAW BUSINESS)

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter via Twitter, Judge Susan Nelson told owners and players that she will impose “forced” mediation” early this week.


The NFL desperately wants mediation of a collective bargaining agreement under George Cohen while the NFLPA prefers mediation of their antitrust lawsuit under Nelson’s supervision. Nelson has hinted that she will side with the players, though there is a chance that she will defer to Cohen’s several-week head start on negotiations. Sources on both sides tell’s Mike Freeman that this round of mediation “might lead to a deal.” Let’s hope so.

Let’s. The best way for these two sides to come to an agreement that works for everybody is if they talk. Leaving it up to the court system is a bad idea because I would have to imagine that one side would walk away a clear winner and the other a clear loser. Granted, there needs to be compromise on both sides but leaving the lines of communication open would seemingly make the most sense.

NFL, NFLPA will discuss the possibility of mediation on Friday

Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys, arrives to continue negotiations between the National Football League (NFL) and the National Football League Players’ Association (NFLPA) in Washington March 11, 2011. The parties were still negotiating a range of sticking points, including how to divide more than $9 billion in annual revenues, but the players’ union insist one issue, the NFL’s proposal to add two more games to the regular season, was off the table. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL EMPLOYMENT BUSINESS)

The NFL and NFLPA are scheduled to speak at 10:00AM Friday with Judge Susan Nelson to discuss the possibility of mediation. has the details.

We’re not holding out much hope for immediate progress, but Judge Nelson is at least known for “settling standoffs,” per Judy Battista of the New York Times. The NFLPA stance is that the owners’ offer to resume mediation under George Cohen “makes no sense” as collective bargaining between the two sides is “over.” The players do hold the leverage right now, but they’re also missing out on a chance to hammer out a favorable deal through collective bargaining in lieu of litigation.

Any progress is good progress at this point. Maybe Judge Nelson can convince both sides that it’s best to go through mediation rather than allow the court process to play out. If not, we’re right back where we were when the players decertified and we could be looking at a lengthy lockout.

If the lockout does last another couple of months, I wonder if the owners will eventually crack. The players have been preparing for this moment for the past two years and even put a “lockout fund” together just in case. The owners have dug in their heels and have flexed their muscles a couple of times throughout the last couple of months (or tried to in the case of Jerry Jones), but they were also hoping to fund their lockout using TV contracts. Judge David Doty squashed that plan, so I wonder if the owners will eventually crack the longer the lockout resumes. (Or obviously if Judge Nelson rules in favor of the players and ends the lockout in a couple of weeks.)

We’ll see. (I feel like I’ve said that a lot as it pertains to this CBA mess.)

Report: Players wanted to return to the negotiating table but owners declined

The NFL logo is seen on a trailer parked near the New Meadowlands Stadium where the New York Jets and New York Giants NFL football teams play home games in East Rutherford, New Jersey, March 14, 2011. The NFL has officially announced a lockout of players by team owners following the move by the players’ union to dissolve themselves and pursue court action against the league. REUTERS/Mike Segar (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL BUSINESS)

According to ESPN’s John Clayton in his latest Q&A, the players wanted to return to the negotiating table on March 28, but the owners declined. Apparently the owners refuse to negotiate unless the players recertifiy as a union.

Q: I am a corporate attorney, and I have seen (and been part of) settlement negotiations while litigation is taking its course. Why can’t one or more attorneys for players (if not for the NFLPA, then for some of the named litigants) negotiate with the attorneys for the owners right now? At least in California, settlement negotiations cannot be used in trial, so I see no reason why negotiations could not be going on right now. In any event, isn’t the real problem the refusal of the owners to provide full financial information?

Ed in Aladena, Calif.

A: You are 100 percent correct. Lawyers for the owners refuse to meet with the settlement attorneys for the players unless the trade association identifies itself as a union, which the players won’t do at this time. The players, according to multiple sources, planned to meet with the owners March 28 and spend the week settling this mess. All that had to be done was have a short document go to federal judge Susan Nelson’s court saying that the NFLPA’s executive board would serve as advisors. The NFL’s answer was no. This will be the only way a deal can be reached. Like you, we all wish both sides would go to the bargaining table instead of the courts.

As a fan, it’s frustrating to hear that one side was ready to head back to the bargaining table and the other refused. The quickest way to a resolution is at the negotiating table – not in the courts.

But the owners must believe they have the leg up now that union-friendly Judge David S. Doty is not overseeing the players’ injunction hearing on April 6. As points out, if Judge Susan Nelson fails to grant the injunction, then the leverage swings heavily in the owners’ favor. So why would they return to the bargaining tables now? So that they can put an end to this charade and the fans can have a season next year? That’s not what the owners want. They want more money (and in the process, the players to have less of it), which is one of the many reasons why the NFL is currently in this mess.

The momentum has shifted several times over the past couple of months and it appears as though each side is waiting for the other to eventual crumble. Meanwhile, the fans continue to wait.

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