NFL, Players Ordered To Mediate

The two sides will meet in Minneapolis on Thursday under Judge Arthur Boylan.

Posted by Ryan Mink on Monday, April 11th, 2011 at 4:55 pm | Categories: Ryan Mink

The NFL and players have been ordered to return to the negotiating table.
 
The two sides will meet beginning Thursday morning in the federal court chambers of Chief Magistrate Arthur Boylan in Minnesota, as the NFL Players Association had hoped.
 
Last week the two sides had agreed to re-open discussions for the first time since talks broke down on March 11, but they couldn’t agree on a location or mediator. Minnesota Judge Susan Nelson has now done it for them.
 
The players wanted mediation to remain under the supervision of a Judge Nelson appointee while the league wanted to return to federal mediator George Cohen in Washington, D.C., where they had reported success in 17 days of talks before it fell apart.
 
The judge has ordered that both sides file briefs by 5 p.m. and Boylan will meet with the players and their lawyers Tuesday in person at 9 a.m. He will then meet with the NFL on Wednesday before bringing the two sides together.
 
As a general rule, magistrate judges assist district court judges in their duties, usually handling low-level matters. However, Boylan could directly impact the case in that he will be reporting to Nelson. Thus, the behavior of both the NFL and players in negotiations will be noted.
 
This mediation will not serve as binding arbitration, but Nelson and Boylan “would have more ability to control talks than Cohen could,” according to NFL.com’s Albert Breer.

Only the mediator has the power to declare a stalemate, which could keep both sides at the table. And as the sides agree on individual issues, Boylan can remove each from the bargaining table and therefore not allow one side or the other to go back on something that was already agreed upon.
 
Among the key issues when talks broke off a month ago were whether players would be given detailed team-by-team financial records.
 
Nelson wrote that she will continue to deliberate on the Brady et al vs. NFL case, which will determine whether owners are allowed to lock out the players considering the NFLPA decertified to shed its union status.
 
NFLPA Executive Director DeMarurice Smith will still be involved in the mediation, as Nelson granted the players’ motion to add the Washington, D.C.-based lawyer to their team.
 
All communication within mediation has been ordered by Nelson to remain confidential. Both sides are protected within mediation from any of their arguments being used against the other in any case going forward.

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