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.

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