Lost in the shuffle regarding the lifting of the lockout and the confusion as to when or if the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit ever will issue a ruling on the league’s motion to stay the lifting of the lockout pending resolution of the appeal is the fact that mediation tentatively was scheduled to reconvene in Minneapolis on May 16.
It’s no longer tentative.
During Wednesday’s ProFootballTalk Live, Commissioner Roger Goodell said that mediation will indeed continue on May 16. Goodell also said that four owners will attend the session.
Asked whether the four owners will have the ability to strike a deal without a vote being conducted by all 32, Goodell explained that both sides will submit any deal that’s reached to a vote. For a post-decertified NFLPA, however, the players have no ability to vote on a proposed agreement. Instead, the players who are the parties to the lawsuit have the power to negotiate a settlement, subject to court approval. All other players would then have the ability to object to the settlement as part of the approval process, or to file their own lawsuit.
In other words, it’s much easier for the players to have present at mediation everyone who needs to be there in order to strike a deal. Given that Judge Nelson’s order requiring mediation contemplates the presence of persons who can make decisions without further consultation, the league is taking a risk by not having all of the owners present — or by sending a smaller group of owners without full authority to strike a deal.
As a practical matter, the players may decide not to push the issue, given that by all appearances neither side intends to get serious until the Eighth Circuit completes its review of Judge Nelson’s decision to lift the lockout. Eventually, however, the players could choose to make a stink about the league’s decision to negotiate subject to the eventual approval of a deal by a vote of the full ownership group.