What initially appeared to be a clandestine meeting of a subset of owners but then became a secret NFL-NFLPA* negotiating session eventually has become an off-site mediation gathering prompted by U.S. Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan (pictured).
The league and the union-turned-trade-association issued a joint statement on Thursday regarding the situation: “The parties met pursuant to court mediation. Owners and players were engaged in confidential discussions before Chief Magistrate Judge Boylan. The court has ordered continued confidentiality of the mediation sessions.”
Thus, given that Magistrate Judge Boylan instigated the talks, the only truly good news to come out of the two-day get-together comes from the fact that the lawyers were left out of the process.
Whether the lawyers return when mediation resumes remains to be seen. It also remains to be seen whether any real progress has been made. Hopefully, the lawyers have been excluded from the process until the time comes to put the “wherefores” and “heretofores” into a written settlement agreement.
Still, the fact that the parties didn’t agree to these talks on their own makes us much less optimistic about the possibility that the concrete blocks of an eventual house of labor peace have been dropped into place.