While Judge Nelson is deliberating her decision on the injunction to stop the lockout, she has ordered that the NFL and NFLPA return to mediation starting Thursday under the direction of Chief Magistrate Arthur Boylan. While this is seen to be a small win for the players, I would not get hopes up as to an agreement happening before the judge makes her final ruling.
Commissioner Roger Goodell has stated in multiple opportunities that he wished the players would return to the bargaining table and mediation and get a fair deal done. However, in the latest conflict, the players and the owners disagreed where the mediation should take place. The owners wanted to go back to Washington, DC and work with George Cohen, who had been running the mediation sessions in March. The players wanted someone that Judge Nelson appointed. The players got their wish and mediation begins again in Minnesota.
The question is whether a deal can be reached before she rules.
I am not optimistic. The more time that has passed has seen the two sides dig their heels in and get further apart in their relationship. I know Judge Nelson wants to see if an agreement can be made before she has to make a decision, but forcing the two side to mediation is like forcing a couple of kids who have been fighting to go back and play together some more.
Sometimes the adult just needs to be the one to make the decision. The players went to court for a reason. They felt that the only way to ensure a 2011 season would be to seek injunctive relief after decertifying. The owners want a better deal and have been preparing for a lockout for a couple of years now. Now Judge Nelson has heard the two sides. The players have had their share of fortune with the courts.
When Judge Nelson she would couple of weeks to make her final ruling, she wanted the two parties to get something done so she did not have to. Does she really think that there will be better results this time around? The only thing that was accomplished in all the mediation sessions was a take-it-or-leave-it offer at the last second by the owners.
Perhaps the league will fear the ruling and decide to make more concessions. Maybe the players will do the same. I doubt it.
Both sides feel they have a strong case and are not likely to budge. The only hope we as fans have is that the judge rules in favor of the players, thus ending the lockout and saving the 2011 season.