Earlier today, we asked NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell whether the four owners who’ll attend mediation next week in Minneapolis will have the ability to strike a deal without a vote of all 32 owners. Goodell responded by explaining that each side will have to ultimately defer to folks not present.
NFLPA* spokesman George Atallah tells us that the contingent representing the players’ interests will have full authority to make decisions without seeking further approval. “It was the case in bargaining,” Atallah said via e-mail. “It is the case in litigation settlement. Players in attendance have the authority to make decisions along with class counsel.”
Class counsel currently includes NFLPA* executive director DeMaurice Smith.
With the decertification of the union, the players collectively have sacrificed the opportunity to give express approval to any settlement of the antitrust lawsuit. Instead, those players have the right to object to the proposed settlement as part of the court approval process.
If the reconstitution of the NFLPA as a union is one of the conditions of settlement, a majority of the players likely will have to embrace the deal, but that’s not something that will happen at mediation. The goal of mediation is to try to settle the lawsuit between the 10 named plaintiffs and the 33 defendants — the NFL and each of its teams. In order to make real progress, all parties need to be present or, at a minimum, representatives with full authority to settle the dispute need to be there.