On Monday, Daniel Kaplan of SportsBusiness Journal said during an appearance on PFT Live that the lawyers for both sides aren’t pleased at all with the fact that they’ve been excluded, as of last week, from negotiations on a new labor deal. The fact that the talks are occurring in the presence of a mediator makes the indignity even more insulting for the lawyers. Indeed, few attorneys ever would tolerate their clients negotiating in the presence of a mediator without the benefit of guidance, advice, and/or babysitting from the barristers who supposedly know better.
Former Ravens coach Brian Billick, in a very good column regarding the fact that the league knew from the day the owners opted out of the labor deal that Commissioner Roger Goodell would become the public pin cushion when a lockout is imposed, shares a comment from NFL general counsel Jeff Pash that makes it very hard for Pash to now complain about the decision that Goodell has made regarding the absence of the lawyers from the process.
“If you follow through with this, you need to be prepared to stand by this man,” Pash reportedly said, “when he gets all the blame for it. Because nearly everyone, from the players association to the press, is going to be pointing fingers at him.”
Today, this means that Pash and Bob Batterman and every other lawyer who isn’t in the room really can’t say a word about Goodell’s desire to try to land this plane without the benefit of a crew of trained pilots.
Of course, Pash is probably the least likely to now complain. Unlike most of the other lawyers who now aren’t involved in the process, he’s not billing by the hour. And with his salary slashed to $1 per year during the lockout, why work for free?
In all fairness, Pash deserves credit for recognizing the wisdom of walking away from the table. Right or wrong, the players have decided they don’t like Pash, almost as much as the owners don’t like NFLPA* legal mastermind Jeffrey Kessler. So each side has sacrificed a key soldier, and perhaps both sides can now win the war.