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When mediation resumes, both sides should rely on professional negotiators

Goodell_Smith AP

During the first segment of Friday’s edition of PFT Live, we touched on a point that needs to be reiterated, given the reports (which are accurate) that Judge Susan Nelson has ordered the parties to submit to mediation.

When the two sides gather in Minnesota or D.C. or wherever else it is that they ultimately get together, they need to rely upon folks who negotiate contracts for a living.

Not the lawyers.  Though plenty of lawyers do plenty of negotiating, the lawyers in this case are in litigation mode.  Besides, several key figures on both sides of the table have expressed a desire to get the lawyers out of the process.

Every team has employees who negotiate player contracts, and almost every player has an agent who negotiates his contract.  So why not put them to work on the CBA?

It’s not as if they currently have anything else to do.

Whether it’s a team of negotiators and agents or just one per side, having these people involved insulates the players and the owners against being directly responsible for making a deal, which will help keep the talks from getting too personal or emotional.

The only potential drawback is that the agents have a conflict of interest when it comes to the rookie wage scale.  Put simply, the agents don’t want one, and that could become an issue.

Still, as long as everyone at the table realizes the existence of the conflict of interest, it potentially won’t become an insurmountable hurdle.  Besides, it’s no different than the lawyers’ interest in prolonging the litigation in order to generate maximum fees.

So why not give it a try?  Nothing else has worked.  Maybe persons who routinely have found a way to get deals done — and who need to preserve their ability to work together in the future — will be able to help bridge a gap that isn’t nearly as big as the two sides would have us all believe.

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27 Responses to “When mediation resumes, both sides should rely on professional negotiators”
  1. scytherius says: Apr 10, 2011 11:09 PM

    Ya know what? Screw it. Both sides wanna be real men? High card wins.

  2. hawkeye6 says: Apr 10, 2011 11:10 PM

    But instead, they’ll do it themselves or with biased negotiators who are on board with each side’s agenda.

  3. palinforpresidentofnorthkorea says: Apr 10, 2011 11:16 PM

    How does the “Shamified” class make decisions?

    Simple majority vote of all 1,700 +/- NFLPA* players*?

  4. bukes111 says: Apr 10, 2011 11:27 PM

    “The only potential drawback is that the agents have a conflict of interest when it comes to the rookie wage scale. Put simply, the agents don’t want one, and that could become an issue.”
    _________________________________

    There are a couple of conflicts of interest. The rookie cap is one of them, another one is the franchise tag. While the agents need to be informed, they shouldn’t be the lead negotiators. Terrible idea.

  5. stoutfiles says: Apr 10, 2011 11:27 PM

    Am I the only one that’s getting bored with this? Can we start talking about replacement players now?

  6. brownsfn says: Apr 10, 2011 11:30 PM

    the world would be much better off WITHOUT lawyers…

  7. dbellina says: Apr 10, 2011 11:35 PM

    Let’s let Obama decide what should be done. We’ve all seen how great he is at making major decisions that impact large groups of people and organizations.

  8. Rhode Island Patriots Fan says: Apr 10, 2011 11:37 PM

    In my judgment, the wise decision for Judge Nelson to make would be to order the mediation to take place in Washington, D.C. under George Cohen’s supervision. Importantly, the sides should also be directed to negotiate a new CBA—as opposed to settling the antitrust lawsuit. In return, Bob Kraft, Jerry Jones, Jerry Richardson and Pat Bowlen, among others, must not only enter an appearance during the mediation sessions, but they must be prepared to participate more and make additional concessions to the players including, but not limited to, smaller “cost credits” and more financial transparency on a going forward basis. Realistically speaking, the players are likely to prevail on their motion for injunctive relief. And, contrary to the views of some, I think it’s likely the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals will affirm the lower court’s findings. Longer term, the plaintiffs in the antitrust action are also likely to prevail given that the law seems to weigh heavily in their favor. On the other hand, the players need to recognize that THE BUSINESS OF THE NFL (of which they are a part) would benefit significantly from new stadiums being built in Atlanta, San Francisco, Minnesota and, yes, Los Angeles, as well as overseas expansion. Given the economic realities of today’s—not to mention tomorrow’s—weak economy, how can the owners be expected to grow the game and earn a reasonable return on investment if the players aren’t willing to budge one iota? Are both sides willing to risk losing, say, $1Bn in revenue if there’s no agreement by September? What about $400MM/week thereafter?

  9. tcs91841 says: Apr 10, 2011 11:47 PM

    Having the agents involved in the negotiations is a terrible idea. They wouldn’t negotiate for what’s best for the league, teams or fans. And, to be quite honest, if push-came-to-shove, they would put their own interests ahead of the players.

  10. realfann says: Apr 10, 2011 11:52 PM

    Daft idea.

  11. endzonezombie says: Apr 10, 2011 11:55 PM

    The articles on this site are sounding like discussions at a bar over quite a few shots and beers. ” They should do this’…and ‘ they should do that’…

  12. Deb says: Apr 11, 2011 12:10 AM

    Agents? You are getting desperate, Mike :) Won’t work because, as you said, they have a financial stake in debate over the rookie cap.

    But since the previous mediator wasn’t successful, Nelson should appoint another. Clear the attorneys, Goodell, and Smith from the room, then resume with a new mediator plus the representative players and owners. The two sides aren’t that far apart. All of them just need to stop flexing their muscles, and commit to finding a resolution before the draft.

  13. Fantasy Football says: Apr 11, 2011 12:11 AM

    I’m losing faith. This is going to be a long boring off-season

  14. MichaelEdits says: Apr 11, 2011 12:20 AM

    Steel cage match

  15. MichaelEdits says: Apr 11, 2011 12:20 AM

    Tiddly winks tournament

  16. oumoonunit says: Apr 11, 2011 12:47 AM

    This is an idea that only a lawyer could concoct. The people making the decisions need to negotiate.

  17. freedomispopular says: Apr 11, 2011 1:32 AM

    Guys, beer summit at my house. It’s the big white one, you can’t miss it.

    Signed,
    Barack.

  18. gentlax13 says: Apr 11, 2011 1:55 AM

    The problem with this idea is that the negotiators you recommend (player agents in particular) have their own strongly biased agenda. It’s in the agents best interest to continue to have rookie pay insensibly high. It is also in their best interest to exchange benefits for the players (and certainly retirees) for larger dollar contracts.

  19. hawkdawg88 says: Apr 11, 2011 2:18 AM

    You can recognize that conflict of interest until the cows come home. But it won’t make it go away. Some conflicts cannot be effectively waived.

  20. steeltownpride says: Apr 11, 2011 5:24 AM

    Agents are biased Mike . Afterall its their clients are on one side of the table . Like they arent trying to get their clients the most then can and will screw things up . Keep them far away as possible . I can see Rosenhous sitting at the table now with his slicky boy attitute .

  21. chapnastier says: Apr 11, 2011 6:15 AM

    I think Congress should hold hearings on this and come to a decision by passing a bill. Seems to be working everywhere else.

  22. texline1 says: Apr 11, 2011 6:27 AM

    By professional negotiators you mean lawyers. I can’t think of a better way to screw things up. When lawyers get involved EVERYBODY loses except the lawyers. They make the laws and they set them up that way.

  23. bobbyhoying says: Apr 11, 2011 6:48 AM

    Mediation seems like a judge who doesn’t want to render a decision. This is really very simple. Let all players negotiate with whomever they please. Let Jerry Jones and Dan Snyder outspend everyone else. Make teams in small markets uncompetitive. See how that works out for both sides.

  24. angrycorgi says: Apr 11, 2011 7:25 AM

    “Whether it’s a team of negotiators and agents or just one per side, having these people involved insulates the players and the owners against being directly responsible for making a deal, which will help keep the talks from getting too personal or emotional.”

    I believe that’s what the lawyers were meant to do…see how that worked out?

  25. chatham10 says: Apr 11, 2011 8:13 AM

    I keep hearing about getting the lawyers out of this, but I believe most agents are lawyers so what have that gained.

  26. FinFan68 says: Apr 11, 2011 9:56 AM

    It is the professional negotiators that have brought us all this far. You’d have a better shot at a fair deal by bringing in 3 fans from each “side” and let them settle it in about a day and a half.

  27. thefiesty1 says: Apr 11, 2011 10:13 AM

    If they aren’t careful the agents will be getting 25% of the $9 billion pie. Why don’t they just split it 50/50 and everyone shut up and be happy. Rediculus!

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