Thursday’s flurry of letters between the NFL and the lawyers who represent the players suing the league for, among other things, an end to the lockout will give way, apparently, to actual discussions on Friday.
Albert Breer of NFL.com, who has obtained the four letters that went back and forth between counsel for the two sides on Thursday, reports that a letter from David Boies refers to a Friday conference call with the court “to discuss mediation.”
If so, it’s an encouraging sign, since it means that Judge Nelson will be in position to mediate the communications regarding where and how mediation will continue. With both sides hoping not to alienate Judge Nelson (or, at best, to suck up to her), hopefully enough bending by each side can be done to break the logjam over whether the mediation will occur in front of George Cohen, or whether Judge Nelson will appoint someone through the court to handle it.
The most obvious compromise would be an appointment of George Cohen by Judge Nelson. Last time around, Cohen had no real power over the parties, since he had no judge to whom he could report if one side or the other were being unreasonable, obnoxious, or hostile. Instead, his only option was to quit (which he should have done, given that both parties blatantly violated the media blackout he requested).
If Judge Nelson appoints Cohen, then Cohen will have a pipeline to Judge Nelson if, for example, Jerry Jones tries to intimidate the players or if the players want to end the process after getting an objectively reasonable offer because they don’t believe they’re getting enough face time with the owners in a process that routinely entails limited face time with the other side in the dispute.
To her credit, Judge Nelson realizes that the best resolution to this mess is one that the parties fashion. The first challenge will be to fashion a resolution as to how a resolution will be attempted.