It’s been a couple of weeks since I jumped on here and spouted off about the labor situation. I didn’t mention Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross opening up his mouth nor have I poked a fork into some of the comments made by players who think that they should wait it out. But there is good news on the horizon. After a long drought of nothing, something is finally here and over the next week or two it will take center stage.
The labor updates should have kicked off tomorrow but word out of the NFL is that it actually kicked off a day early, yesterday, when 6 owners, the Commissioner, DeMaurice Smith, and 3 player representatives met quietly in Chicago without lawyers. Of all the news that has been “news” this by far is the best. Regardless of whether they talked about finer points of a new CBA or the gaps that still remain, they talked. And they did so without being interrupted by attorneys. In other words, anything that were to come out of that meeting would be good news…even if there is no news to report on it.
Friday will mark the day that both sides will argue their opinions in front of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals. The three judges will either rule in favor of the owners and leave the lockout in place, or they will rule in favor of supporting the earlier decision by Judge Susan Nelson to lift the lockout immediately allowing the new league year to start as soon as the ruling is made.
On Monday, the league must present their written argument to Judge Nelson regarding the “Brady” case. The league had requested an extension but were denied. The actual litigation in the courtroom will not begin on Monday and a firm date has yet to be set. On the 7th, both sides will once again meet with the overseeing magistrate judge that was appointed by Judge Nelson and resume mediated negotiations.
Up until now, the mediation process has been a joke with the players failing to respond to the last two offers presented by the owners. One in early March on the day the union decertified and another three weeks ago when the magistrate judge asked the league to present another proposal.
With the two sides meeting incognito yesterday, it’s possible that they may actually be taking strides to get something done that is fair for both the players and the owners. Each side is realizing that the season’s start is seriously in jeopardy. The league has already cancelled the rookie symposium which is now being handled by the players trade association.
I will point out that one of our forum members mentioned that the players union should be responsible for the incoming symposium for rookies considering they take no responsibility for anything that occurs in the business of the NFL outside of their own paychecks and what is mandated by the league. I say that’s a good idea. In fact, I wouldn’t mind seeing the NFLPA, if it returns as such, be more financially involved with the leagues outside programs. It may be a way to alleviate some of the owners overhead costs as well.
Back to the labor issue at hand. While yesterdays meeting really does not indicate an end is near for the lockout it does show a willingness on both sides to get together and stop talking in the media to win the support of the fans. I know that I support the owners as do many of the readers here, but I also feel I can speak for all the fans when I say, whichever side ends up winning isn’t as important as the game remaining unchanged and that football is back on the field instead of a courtroom.
UPDATE: While not all of the owners are still in Chicago, those that did remain have continued to carry on discussions with the Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan. While it’s doubtful that anything will get done today, it’s a solid sign of progression prior to the courts leveling decisions. No word on if there were lawyers present today or not but the fact that they are talking during two days that were not scheduled is a positive sign.