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Not-so-secret meeting was lawyer-free (except for De)

James Quinn and Jeffrey Kessler, attorneys for the NFL Players Association enter a federal courthouse to resume court-ordered mediation in Minneapolis Reuters

For months, key figures on each side of the NFL’s labor dispute have called for negotiations to occur without the lawyers present.

Finally, it has happened.

Updating and clarifying prior information on the Chicago-area meeting between the league and representatives of the NFLPA*, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that no lawyers attended, with the exception of NFLPA* executive director DeMaurice Smith.  Accompanying Smith were NFLPA* president Kevin Mawae and Executive Committee members Jeff Saturday and Mike Vrabel.

Attending for the NFL were Commissioner Roger Goodell, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, Panthers owner Jerry Richardson, Patriots owner Robert Kraft, Giants co-0wner John Mara, and Steelers owner Art Rooney.

The fact that five owners participated when a rotation of four have been attending court-ordered mediation sessions is a positive sign, but the absence of men like Jeff Pash, Bob Batterman, Jim Quinn, and Jeff Kessler represents the best news.  It means that the two sides are moving toward trying to find a win-win solution, with the lawyers left to iron out the details after a consensus is reached on the bigger issues.

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50 Responses to “Not-so-secret meeting was lawyer-free (except for De)”
  1. RedHeadedBastard says: Jun 2, 2011 11:03 AM

    Just get a damn deal done already!

  2. tmac48 says: Jun 2, 2011 11:08 AM

    Awwwwww yeahhhhhh…

  3. thevolcanokid says: Jun 2, 2011 11:08 AM

    What we need is a win-win-win conflict resolution.

  4. Rhode Island Patriots Fan says: Jun 2, 2011 11:08 AM

    If it is indeed the case that the sides have taken the initiative to meet outside U.S. Judge Magistrate Arthur Boylan’s mediation sessions, then that can only be construed to mean that some movement toward resolution is underway. How much, of course, remains to be seen. At this juncture, the smart play for the players would be to make a long-awaited counteroffer on the core economic issue of revenue splitting.

    Tomorrow’s appeal before the Eighth Circuit is critical. If the Court rules that the Norris-LaGuardia Act (NLGA) deprives the lower court jurisdiction to grant injunctive relief (as the case is one “involving or growing out of a labor dispute”), then that may have implications beyond the lockout. Consider the broadcasting revenue case now before Judge Doty. Does Judge Doty have jurisdiction there to award injunctive relief under the NLGA?

  5. jmphinsfan says: Jun 2, 2011 11:12 AM

    Jim Irsay said it weeks ago that him and Jeff Saturday would sit down over a couple of beers at the Boathouse and bang the whole thing out… lets hope they keep meeting more like this and less with the Perry Mason types.

  6. laeaglefan says: Jun 2, 2011 11:13 AM

    Lots of positive vibes come from this news, except for one thing: Jerry Jones was one of the owners in attendance. That has to be viewed as a BIG negative.

  7. willycents says: Jun 2, 2011 11:13 AM

    best solution for this mess is a winner take all strategy, ala the Aaron Burr situation a hundred plus years ago.
    Give DeSmith and Goodell each a Glock 45ACP, stand them back to back, ten paces forward, turn and shoot. Winner takes all, loser loses big time

  8. txchief says: Jun 2, 2011 11:13 AM

    Kessler is probably the worst of the bunch and is likely fueling the aggressive litigation strategy. I hope he has been cut out of the loop because nothing is going to happen if the endless lawsuits continue.

  9. eagiants says: Jun 2, 2011 11:21 AM

    It all sounds good but I’ll keep the bubbly on ice until something really gets done. Forgive me for being a skeptic.

    I hope they shock us all and get something done ASAP. Fingers crossed boys and girls.

  10. bearskoolaid1985 says: Jun 2, 2011 11:23 AM

    I don’t give a crap if the player or owners find a win win solution ALL THE FAN’s WANT IS FOR THE FAN’s TO WIN………………..

    THE FAN’s LOVE FOOTBALL JUST THE WAY IT HAS BEEN.

  11. rogerfromoz says: Jun 2, 2011 11:23 AM

    No lawyers present is the best news PFT has reported in 6 months. Now time to get the deal done.

  12. moochzilla says: Jun 2, 2011 11:25 AM

    They both proved they could burn the house down. Now that everyone’s secure in that knowledge a deal can be made.

  13. deljzc says: Jun 2, 2011 11:28 AM

    So the players finally decided to sit down again.

    It’s about f’ing time.

  14. Mike Tomlin says: Jun 2, 2011 11:32 AM

    Does anyone know if this was a one day thing or if they are meeting today, tomorrow and into next week?

  15. thephantomstranger says: Jun 2, 2011 11:32 AM

    The only way to get a deal done is for the players and owners meet until they hammer it out. Stay out of the courts and forget about the lawyers. If they really want to get it done, they’ll keep meeting like this.

  16. capslockkey says: Jun 2, 2011 11:34 AM

    I’m guessing Vrabel provided the refreshments for the meeting.

  17. robf2010 says: Jun 2, 2011 11:34 AM

    @laeaglefan:

    “Jerry Jones was one of the owners in attendance. That has to be viewed as a BIG negative.”

    I’m no fan of Jerry Jones but I think this is positive. I doubt Jones is a big fan of the last CBA but he definitely wants to play football. The tightwad owners with the bad teams are the holdups now. Jerry Richardson, Ralph Wilson, Mike Brown, etc …

    I find it kind of depressing that I now know most of the owners’ names. The league was so much better when no one knew.

  18. thewhitestguyhere says: Jun 2, 2011 11:36 AM

    all of this excitement over something they should have been doing months ago. i’ll keep my skeptical attitude and hold off jumping for joy

  19. thetooloftools says: Jun 2, 2011 11:36 AM

    When is ” The Double Secret Probation” meeting?

  20. blantoncollier says: Jun 2, 2011 11:38 AM

    If you want to see real progress. Keep DeSmith out of the room.

  21. hendawg21 says: Jun 2, 2011 11:38 AM

    Well the only good news that could come out of any of these meetings is….

    A DEAL IS IMMINENT!!! otherwise it’s the same old, same old!

  22. delcolawyer says: Jun 2, 2011 11:39 AM

    Dear NFL Owners and Players,

    I am your guy. You know, the one who has a passion for sports but, more importantly for you, disposable income. Male, 46 years old, own my own business. You get the idea.

    I’m the guy who has his own season tickets for personal use as well as tickets for business promotional purposes.

    C’mon – you know — the guy who buys jerseys not only for himself but also for his children and his clients.

    Yeah, that’s me, the guy who spends time in the stadium club and in the concession lines. Overpriced they say? I just look at it as a fair price associated with a good time at the game with my friends.

    I’m the guy that coaches his kids’ soccer teams in the fall, but finds substitutes on game days so he can be there to cheer you on (and spend my money).

    I’m the guy that advertisers want watching all the other games on TV. I’ve heard they pay you money for that kind of thing, but who I am I to stick my nose into your business?

    So there you have it . . . I am a loyal follower of my team willing and able to make investments of time and money so I can enjoy my football games.

    But, what you perhaps have not realized is that I am also the guy who is easily distracted.

    I’m not the guy who is going to sit here and lecture you on why you should work things out.

    I’m not the guy who is interested in hearing why the other side is wrong and you are right. In fact, that kinda makes me want to switch the channel and listen to some music instead (sorry, talk radio advertisers).

    I’m the guy who just bought his kids some soccer jerseys (oops, again – you don’t get a piece of that, do you?)

    I’m the guy who just signed up for more coaching in the fall. You know, if I miss a football game here or there, you’ll make up that money elsewhere, right?

    I’m the guy who is realizing just how the time he spends following football that can be directed elsewhere. (In fact, that whole Day of Rapture thing made me think I shouldn’t waste too much time waiting for anything).

    You know me guys, don’t you? The guy who is getting bored of your nonsense and starting to care less and less if you come back.

    But mostly guys, you know me . . . the guy who is not alone when he says go ahead and cancel it all. I’ll just go and find somewhere else to spend all the money you just saved me.

  23. seatown12 says: Jun 2, 2011 11:41 AM

    When the season finally starts I will dance in the streets. True stuff

  24. eaglesfan290 says: Jun 2, 2011 11:43 AM

    Finally DeSmith gets it!

    Lets hope they get a deal done.

  25. smacklayer says: Jun 2, 2011 11:43 AM

    What would be a real shame is if the final deal they work is not very far off from what the owners offered back in March. That would be an epic failure on the Demo’s part that he wasted time, money, the offseason, employee furloghs, etc. just to arrive at the same place they could have been at with a few more days of negotiating back in March.

    This is why I don’t think Demo is going down without a fight. At this point unless he really out negotiates the owners to a new CBA or just beats them down in court (neither of which look very favorable at this point), he will be considered a discrace and will seriously affect his legacy.

    Either way, look for him to resign when this mess is over.

  26. vadog says: Jun 2, 2011 11:45 AM

    I believe that Goodell is also an attorney. Could be wrong, but I thought he was General Counsel for the NFL prior to becoming commissioner.

  27. CKL says: Jun 2, 2011 11:49 AM

    Rhode Island Patriots Fan says: Jun 2, 2011 11:08 AM

    If it is indeed the case that the sides have taken the initiative to meet outside U.S. Judge Magistrate Arthur Boylan’s mediation sessions, then that can only be construed to mean that some movement toward resolution is underway.
    ______________________________
    According to Mark Maske via PFW on Twitter (yeah I know…lol) Boylan was present also.

  28. ninersphan says: Jun 2, 2011 11:53 AM

    laeaglefan says:Jun 2, 2011 11:13 AM

    Lots of positive vibes come from this news, except for one thing: Jerry Jones was one of the owners in attendance. That has to be viewed as a BIG negative.

    I’m not a JJ fane by any stretch of the imagination, but I do not agrree Jones being there is a bad thing. He needs to get a season underway to pay off his huge debt service on the football “cathedral” he just built. No football means no fams buying parking passes, beer, food, jersey’s etc. This league has always been deadline oriented and now that the possibility that they may start losing games if this goes through the courts for months on end is staring both sides in the face, they might fianlly be motivated to get a deal done.

  29. willycents says: Jun 2, 2011 11:53 AM

    vadog says:Jun 2, 2011 11:45 AM

    I believe that Goodell is also an attorney. Could be wrong, but I thought he was General Counsel for the NFL prior to becoming commissioner
    ————————————————
    Goodell has a degree in economics, he is not an attorney. Spent most of his adult life working for the nfl, as COO prior to his selection as Commisioner. Check out his Wikipedia page.

  30. radrhatr says: Jun 2, 2011 11:54 AM

    Think they sat Dee in the corner and put the squeeze on him?

    “”Dig” this, Dee! WHEN we win this appeal on Friday, we’re going to decrease our offers and keep decreasing them until you get off of your “I’m in control” horse. You are not in control of anything Dee, except your bowels and we’ll soon be squeezing the sh!t out of them!””

  31. Rhode Island Patriots Fan says: Jun 2, 2011 11:57 AM

    @vadog—To my knowledge, Commissioner Roger Goodell is not an attorney. My understanding is that Paul Tagliabue, his predecessor, is an attorney who once served as a lawyer for the NFL.

  32. fltharley says: Jun 2, 2011 12:00 PM

    only way i come back is if roger goodell is fired and all his sissy rule changes get recinded.

  33. chapnastier says: Jun 2, 2011 12:04 PM

    laeaglefan says: Jun 2, 2011 11:13 AM

    Lots of positive vibes come from this news, except for one thing: Jerry Jones was one of the owners in attendance. That has to be viewed as a BIG negative.
    ——————————————————

    Why because you are an Eagles fan? It couldn’t be because he has built one of, if not the most recognizable franchise in all of sports? You can hate Jerry all you want but to deny his business abilities is ignorant and dumb. I bet you were one of the Eagle fans cheering when Irvin broke his neck too.

  34. tradeassociation says: Jun 2, 2011 12:11 PM

    I wish all the folks would quit saying “the players need to come up with a counter-offer!” Look, the owners decided two years ago to opt out of the CBA, which was their right. However, they waited until after the CBA expired to make their first real offer. Yes, I know that “technically” the CBA was extended for two weeks – and this extension only existed so long as it was agreed to by both sides – and that “technically” the players hadn’t been locked out. However, waiting past the original deadline before even making a real offer was to give the owners an advantage, to use the threat of the expiring labor agreement, the threat of being locked out, the threat of losing paychecks etc. to force the players’ hand. And keep in mind: this came after hundreds of players lost a year of free agency in 2010, and the players that were free agents saw a lot of owners sit on their hands. So, add the lost year of free agency in 2010 to the owners’ tight-fisted behavior towards the guys who were free agents in 2010 (especially the restricted guys, a lot of whom didn’t get long term deals) to the lost workout bonuses to this year’s free agency class (which includes guys who lost a year of free agency in 2010) being shot, and that is a lot of money lost that a ton of players are never going to get back because the owners – having opted out of the deal 2 years ago – deciding to start negotiating in the middle of March 2011 instead of September 2009 or February 2010. The folks who keep saying “the owners and players really aren’t that far apart/their last 2 offers really weren’t that bad/why can’t the players make a counter-offer” … well had the owners made those offers in 2009, 2010, or even in January or February in 2011, there would have been a deal already. The only reason why there isn’t is because the owners didn’t want to negotiate while the CBA was still in effect. They only wanted to negotiate after the CBA expiration date when ALL the economic pressure would be on the players to get a deal done. The owners could have walked away from the negotiating table at any time. The owners could have locked the players out, decertifcation or no decertifaction, at any time. Or the owners could have continued to make the bogus proposals that they were still floating even after the original CBA deadline passed well into August.

    So, the NFLPA*, or the NFLTA, should just sit tight. Wait as late as they possibly can, until the OWNERS have an economic incentive to get a deal done. Right now, the owners don’t. All the economic pressure is on the players. Wait until the owners are facing the prospect of canceling games, and THEN negotiate. The reason isn’t merely for leverage. The reason is that now that the courts have ruled (or are on the verge of ruling) that the owners can simply let collective bargaining agreements expire without making any real attempt to negotiate, and then lock out their labor force to maximize leverage with no recourse whatsoever by the players, what is to keep them from pulling this stunt again? And again? And again? What keeps them from making this a routine negotiation tactic, knowing good and well that it will A) continue to result in one-sided deals and B) continue to result in lots of players losing money that they will never recoup? What are the players supposed to do? Be the ones to opt out of the next CBA and go on strike? The NFLPA hasn’t had a strike since 1987 – and that was the year the NFL brought in replacement players – and this is how the owners act?

    If the owners went 2 years without even trying to negotiate, and were willing to throw away 2 years of free agency and a year of free agency eligibility for hundreds of players during that time, then the players should repay the favor. Start the negotiations in mid-August, and not a second sooner. Except let the REAL negotiations actually start to happen in late August/early September. Until then, let the first weeks of counter-offers waste the owners’ time with the same sort of ridiculously unviable proposal that the owners were still making as late as a week after the CBA deadline, stuff like 18 game seasons, $1 billion off the top with a 60/40 split thereafter, and making guys coming into the league wait 6 years before they can sign their first real contract. Yes, the owners have abandoned that nonsense and have since made good proposals. But they should have done that in 2009, and the NFLTA should make sure that the owners begin REAL negotiations LONG before the CBA expires next time. And oh yeah, make sure this CBA gives the players the ability to opt out and go on strike.

  35. tradeassociation says: Jun 2, 2011 12:19 PM

    radrhatr:

    If the owners respond in a fashion that you are describing, kiss the 2011 season goodbye. You guys keep blaming DeMaurice Smith for leading the players astray, when the truth is that the players signed Smith because they wanted to play hardball in the first place. The players felt that Gene Upshaw got taken advantage of by the owners several times, then finally negotiated one good deal, and are in no mood to go back to the deals that Upshaw settled for before the last one.

    Nearly all the players are on board with Smith. Granted, that is because most of them think that a deal will get done before the start of the season. But if that doesn’t happen, the dissension will increase, but most of the players will blame the owners, who made the decision to opt out of the CBA way back in 2009, but refused – despite many entreaties by the NFLPA – to enter into negotiations for a new CBA at all until January of this year, and didn’t get serious with actual proposals until after the CBA expires. The players, who negotiate their own individual contracts all the time and know how business is supposed to be done, aren’t going to blame Smith for not jumping at the chance when the owners FINALLY got around to taking them seriously and making an offer, and this was AFTER their purposefully trashing the last 2 free agency classes AND getting their ILLEGAL lockout fund from the networks.

  36. nineroutsider says: Jun 2, 2011 12:27 PM

    I have been excited before and no deal came, but nonetheless I am excited again. The news coming out of Chicago keeps getting better so I am hoping for the best. Glad its only the core principals involved…that is the best sign yet!

  37. nahcouldntbethat says: Jun 2, 2011 12:33 PM

    @ninersphan

    The best thing that could happen for Jerry Jones and the Cowboys is that the players win the Brady suit and the NFL is forced into acting as 32 separate entities with minimal revenue sharing if any and a wide-open talent acquisition process.

    That would be like the Yankess-Redsox scenario on crack for the big market franchises and the Cownboys would probably be worth 2 billion dollars in a very short period of time after that.

    The current NFL system coddles not just the players but also 80% of the franchises, by giving them guaranteed shares of the revenue stream that are well beyond their ability to pull independently.

  38. tradeassociation says: Jun 2, 2011 12:38 PM

    chapnastier:

    It was the previous owner that built the Dallas Cowboys into one of the most recognizable names in sports, not Jerry Jones. Also, since the team that Jimmy Johnson built collapsed, the Cowboys have won how many playoff games? 2? Or is it 1? Jones actually helps the players argument (which I don’t necessarily agree with by the way) that it is the talent, the players and coaches, who generate the interest and the revenue, because all the Cowboys have done since 1996 is make laughable personnel decisions, terrible coaching hires, and benefit from the franchises that are actually drawing viewers because of their SUCCESS (i.e. the Packers, Patriots, Steelers, Colts etc.) Yes, the Cowboys still sell out games, get high ratings, sell apparel etc. but only because of the TRADITION that guys like Tom Landry, Gil Brandt, Tex Schramm, Clint Murchison etc. had built.

    If Jones doesn’t bring a winner to Dallas soon, he is going to find himself under a whole lot of pressure to either hire a real GM or sell the team, because the fans are going to stop supporting a franchise that they know isn’t going anywhere.

  39. quirtevans says: Jun 2, 2011 12:56 PM

    The way that this has played out was highly predictable, and both sides are to blame.

    When the two Jerrys started disrespecting the players in meetings, they knew what they were doing.

    When the players hired De Smith instead of Troy Vincent, they knew what they were doing.

    When the owners opted out of the CBA and basically announced their intention to lock out the players, they knew what they were doing.

    When the players decertified the union, they knew what they were doing.

    This has never been about right and wrong, or about economics. There’s more than enough money to go around. This is about winning and losing, pure and simple. And that’s why there has been no real negotiation, because both sides wanted to make the other side capitulate. This has been about each side clinging to its principles, not about finding a middle ground.

    Who knows why this meeting took place? We sure don’t. It could be that the players called it … or it could be that the owners called it. Whichever, it’s a helpful sign that somebody decided to call a meeting, and everybody relevant decided it was worth attending.

    Until both sides decide that reaching a deal is more important than winning … and until both sides believe that the other side thinks the same way … there really isn’t any prospect of a solution. Perhaps this meeting was the first indication that both sides may be starting to realize that most middle-ground solutions are better for everyone than indefinite extension of the current stalemate. We’ll see.

  40. fwippel says: Jun 2, 2011 1:04 PM

    Maybe the players finally sat DeMaurice Smith down and had a (if you’ll excuse the politically incorrect expression) ‘Come to Jesus’ meeting with him.

    If so, then there hope that some true negotiating going on here, for a change. It’s about time the players got serious about this.

    Now, get a deal done, open the FA market and get to work.

  41. chapnastier says: Jun 2, 2011 1:12 PM

    @ tradeassociation

    I never said he was a good football mind, just that he has a great business mind. He is the worst GM quite possible in the history of sports aside from Vinny Cerato (sp)

  42. myeaglescantwin says: Jun 2, 2011 1:29 PM

    take the year off.. my mind could use a break from Andy reid repeating the same mistakes he’s been making for 11 years..

    what undersized overpriced free agents do you think he will bring in this year?

  43. voxveritass says: Jun 2, 2011 1:32 PM

    No lawyers and the Rooney’s and Mara’s there?
    Sounds like the recipe for success.

  44. buzzardpointlookout says: Jun 2, 2011 1:37 PM

    It is worth noting that the owners voted to opt out of the CBA not two, but three years ago (vote took place in May of 2008).

    It has long been the intention of ownership to lock out the players until they start missing game checks.

    Also, Gene Upshaw laid out the “decertify & sue” strategy shortly before he passed away in 2008.

    The gears have been turning in this little drama for a long time.

    On principal, I side with the players because when I spend my money on the NFL, they are who I pay to see. But I am equally disgusted with both sides for the way they have handled this.

    DeMo Smith is going to push for litigation as it is now likely the only way he wins.

    Fraudger Goodell is going to keep wussifying the game.

    And I am going to drift away from the game I love never to return.

    Douchenozzles.

  45. CKL says: Jun 2, 2011 1:49 PM

    tradeassociation says: Jun 2, 2011 12:19 PM

    The players, who negotiate their own individual contracts all the time and know how business is supposed to be done….
    ____________________________________
    They actually don’t do that of course, their agents do. How many times have you heard players in the midst of negotiations or a holdout asked how he feels negotiations are going say something like” I am leaving that all up to my agent to take care of”. It’s no disrespect to players’ minds or business acumen because no way would any layman be able to negotiate those types of contracts. But the fact remains that the players rely very heavily on their agents for advice and guidance. I think the extent of the players’ negotiation dictates to their agents with their contracts is probably what all of us would want: “get me the most guaranteed money for the fewest years and however you guys work it out is up to you”.

    Recently, one fairly big agent (Linta) recently has called for a copy of the latest offer by the owners so that he can go over it with his clients, which I think is very smart. And it shows that at least one agent is concerned that in fact, players DON’T know the exact details of what was offered. I’ve even heard a few players comment in the media about how they don’t really know a lot of detail. In order for them to make an educated decision they need access to that information IMO.

  46. CKL says: Jun 2, 2011 1:51 PM

    tradeassociation says: Jun 2, 2011 12:19 PM

    The players, who negotiate their own individual contracts all the time and know how business is supposed to be done….
    ____________________________________
    They actually don’t do that of course, their agents do. How many times have you heard players in the midst of negotiations or a holdout asked how he feels negotiations are going say something like” I am leaving that all up to my agent to take care of”. It’s no disrespect to players’ minds or business acumen because no way would any layman be able to negotiate those types of contracts. But the fact remains that the players rely very heavily on their agents for advice and guidance. I think the extent of the players’ negotiation dictates to their agents with their contracts is probably what all of us would want: “get me the most guaranteed money for the fewest years and however you guys work it out is up to you”.

    Recently, one fairly big agent (Linta) has called for a copy of the latest offer by the owners so that he can go over it with his clients, which I think is very smart. And it shows that at least one agent is concerned that in fact, players DON’T know the exact details of what was offered. I’ve even heard a few players comment in the media about how they don’t really know a lot of detail. In order for them to make an educated decision they need access to that information IMO.

  47. dragonfly99 says: Jun 2, 2011 1:56 PM

    Why was Demoron Smith there? If there is no union, then there is no such thing as union executive director or representatives. Lock Smith out of the room and negotiate directly between the players and the owners. I’ll bet they could reach a settlement in under two days.

  48. backindasaddle says: Jun 2, 2011 5:57 PM

    This is exactly the way it needs to be done. If only they could get DeMaurice out of the way some real progress could be made. DeMaurice is trying to make a mark for himself and his agenda is to become famous for breaking the owners. I would love to see just the players and the owners work it out and then just instruct the lawyers to work up the papers. I know that may be an over simplification, but I definitely believe that the owners and the players need to be driving the bus and not the lawyers and DeMaurice Smith.

  49. quirtevans says: Jun 2, 2011 6:48 PM

    “If only they could get DeMaurice out of the way some real progress could be made.”

    That’s pretty dumb. It’s like saying, if only they could get the Jerrys out of the way, some real progress could be made.

  50. backindasaddle says: Jun 3, 2011 12:57 AM

    DeMaurice Smith is an impediment to progress. The only thing dumb is people who can’t see it.

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