Saints quarterback Drew Brees, a named plaintiff in the antitrust lawsuit against the NFL and a member of the NFLPA* Executive Committee, has been conspicuously absent from the mediation sessions that resumed on Thursday.
But Brees tells Mike Triplett of the New Orleans Times-Picayune that the Super Bowl MVP “likely” will attend future sessions.
Hopefully, it’ll happen sooner rather than later. Ideally, Drew would have been there from the start.
The problem is that, by missing the first two days, Brees already will feel behind the curve and potentially out of place when he shows up. And that could cause him to feel frustrated. And that frustration could manifest itself in ways that aren’t productive to the process.
Mediation works best when the parties who need to be there get there from the start and stay there until the finish. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why the mediation failed in February and March. Given the revolving door of attendees on both sides of the table, plenty of time likely was wasted making sure the new or returning faces knew exactly what was going on.
Based on his remarks to Triplett, it’s clear that Brees has strong feelings about the situation. He’s quick to point out that the owners started this fight, and he complains that the owners went on a 48-hour media blitz after the lockout started, and that “95 percent of it was false information.”
He’s entitled to feel that way, because he has lived it. But that makes his decision to skip the first two mediation sessions even more unfortunate. If he’s upset with what’s happened, he needed to voice it during the early stages of court-ordered mediation, as part of the proverbial “fence-mending.” If instead he shows up with a chip still firmly affixed to his shoulder at a time when the parties are starting the slow process of making progress, it could set things back even farther.
And before Saints fans accuse us of not calling out the seven other named plaintiffs who haven’t been at mediation (only Mike Vrabel and Ben Leber have attended), they all should be there — and all of the owners should be there. But the reality is that the other seven named plaintiffs who aren’t there aren’t as vocal or worked up as Brees. Peyton Manning and Tom Brady don’t seem to be nearly as emotionally invested in the process at this point; thus, if they should swoop in for the first time at a time when things are moving in the right direction, the twist in the dynamic likely won’t change things all that much.
Given Brees’ strong views on the subject, he needed to be there from Day One, for the same reasons that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones should have been there. And Brees definitely needs to be among the group that returns to Minnesota on Tuesday.