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Mediator has different, but likely critical, role in not-so-secret talks

A. Boylan AP

The negotiations that began nearly two weeks ago between the NFL and the NFLPA* in the absence of the lawyers nevertheless have entailed the ongoing presence of U.S. Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan, who presided over several days of mandatory mediation in April and May.

As Albert Breer of NFL Network recently mentioned in a report regarding the existence of not-so-secret communications in the period between the not-so-secret meetings, Judge Boylan has been serving in a different capacity.

Via e-mail, Breer explained to PFT that, during the talks held in Minnesota, Judge Boylan controlled the process completely, setting up the format, dictating when sides would meet face-to-face, and telling them when they would work separately.  Breer said that, during the not-so-secret talks, the format is determined by the parties, the two sides are spending much more time meeting, and Judge Boylan “is more or less just officiating and overseeing things.”

In our assessment, Judge Boylan also is performing another critical role:  Communicating with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit regarding the status of the talks.  Given that Judge Boylan works beneath a federal judge who operates under the umbrella of the Eighth Circuit, it makes sense for the Eighth Circuit to be keeping tabs on the process.  If progress continues to be made, the Eighth Circuit can refrain indefinitely from issuing a ruling on the question of whether the lockout will be lifted.  If, at some point, Judge Boylan lets the Eighth Circuit know that the process has sputtered, a ruling aimed at kick-starting the discussions could come quickly.

Either way, Judge Boylan’s presence should serve to prevent the Eighth Circuit from announcing a game-changing decision only hours, or even minutes, before the parties reach an agreement in principle.

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23 Responses to “Mediator has different, but likely critical, role in not-so-secret talks”
  1. derekjetersmansion says: Jun 12, 2011 11:58 AM

    Who cares if the lawyers are there? The reason these talks are happening is they want to get a deal done, not to do behind the back of the lawyers. They should want to get a deal done, lawyers or no lawyers in the room. That’s the frustrating part of this.

  2. yougotclowned says: Jun 12, 2011 12:02 PM

    The owners are fair and reasonable men, and have been offering a fair deal all along, regardless of what DEmoron said. The players are finally letting the litigator know that they want a deal and cant afford to miss any checks, thats the only reason progress is being made.

    Players,keep giving up your outragious demands and giving in to the wants of your bosses and a deal will get done. It wont be what you hoped for, and it will be less than you had under the old deal, but you will still be able to buy your bling

  3. texansmike says: Jun 12, 2011 12:26 PM

    The Eight Circuit needs to announce a date for a decision so these clowns will come to an agreement.
    It appears that an agreement is in the works, and would be helpful if the court would lend a hand by putting some fear factor into the negotiations.

    To say it nicely, both sides could use a little Flame under their butts.

  4. egls7 says: Jun 12, 2011 12:30 PM

    Better than that useless mediator from DC….

  5. angrytna says: Jun 12, 2011 1:00 PM

    Can we please stop with the “not so secret’ crap. They’re meeting! That was an okay headline the 1st time.

  6. ravenator says: Jun 12, 2011 1:02 PM

    NFLPA needs to announce a counter offer already. This is getting ridiculous.

  7. leviticus268 says: Jun 12, 2011 1:57 PM

    @ravenator

    They probably have. Thats why people are still calling the talks secret. Things being said in the meetings are, in fact, a secret.

  8. src3346 says: Jun 12, 2011 2:02 PM

    Judge Boylans role in this is to change diapers and feed the babies their strained peas and peaches.

  9. paulitik74 says: Jun 12, 2011 2:03 PM

    “The owners are fair and reasonable men, and have been offering a fair deal all along,”

    WHAT?

    @yougotclowned, are you huffing the silver spray paint again? In what universe do you live in?

    The owners are the ones with the demands. They are locking the players out and making us all suffer. Look, Ill agree, both sides are to blame on the status and demeanor of the negotiations, but the lockout is 100% on the owners. The owners opted and out, and instead of negotiating, conspired for a lockout by setting up a $4 billion fund throught the broadcasters. The owners are selling tickets, laying off and furlouging employees.

    The owners have been far from reasonable through out this. DeMaurice Smith might be all bark, but the Owners have been all bite.

    There is nothing reasonable about shutting down a season for a squabble over 1/10th of the revenue. That’s what the owner’s did.

    Wow.

  10. johntaylorsucks says: Jun 12, 2011 2:07 PM

    ravenator says:
    Jun 12, 2011 1:02 PM
    NFLPA needs to announce a counter offer already. This is getting ridiculous.

    **********************************

    DEmoron won’t counter until he knows he can’t rack up any more money through litigation.

    He is an attorney, all they do is rack up fees until the money dries up then they settle

  11. bobwhitequail says: Jun 12, 2011 2:16 PM

    The key here is that the players finally are negotiating instead of litigating (by all appearances anyway). The reason there has been zero progress in the past is because the lawyers who represented the players wanted to sue, sue, sue in order for the lawyers to become more rich and famous.

    As long as the players are really committed to negotiating instead of suing, a deal will get done IMO, just a matter of time. If Jeffrey Kessler, the lead attorney, worms his was back into control and manipulates the players that would extend things out indefinitely. I hope that doens’t happen. For now, it looks like some of the player’s leaders are smart enough to realize that Kessler and his ilk were leading them over a cliff. If they stay on the negotiation rather than litigation track this will get done I think.

  12. Rhode Island Patriots Fan says: Jun 12, 2011 3:09 PM

    The Eighth Circuit’s ruling will not be a “game changer.” All indications are that the parties are now motivated to do a deal because they understand the window of opportunity to avoid an economic hit is closing. That will not change because of this impending ruling, which arguably represents the best shot the owners have to get a legal precedent squarely on point affirming that the district court lacks jurisdiction to enjoin the lockout. In the absence of such a ruling, the next three-judge appellate panel may see things the way Circuit Judge Bye did in the stay opinion. If that happens, the League may rue the day it didn’t wait. Without the “lever” of a lockout, the owners would have significantly less leverage in future labor negotiations with the players.

  13. nflfan101 says: Jun 12, 2011 3:49 PM

    PFT said: “In our assessment, Judge Boylan also is performing another critical role: Communicating with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit regarding the status of the talks.”
    ———————————————–

    I disagree with PFT. While Judge Boylan may be communicating with the 8th circuit, I am not sure that he is. And I am not sure that the 8th circuit really cares about the status of the talks. Some judges might care, others don’t. In the past, I have told a judge that I thought that we had a deal and asked for just a couple of hours to make sure and the judge said “no, we will try the case now”.

    I believe that it all depends on the 8th circuit and that nothing will happen until it rules.

    If the 8th circuit upholds the lockout, even on an extended temporary basis, then D. Smith will have to negotiate a deal because the players will make him. They will tell him to make a deal or be fired. D. Smith will talk right now (because it looks good and doesn’t cost him anything), but he will not negotiate or make a deal until he is forced to.

    If the 8th circuit overturns the lockout, then the players will stick with D. Smith and he will not negotiate or make a deal and the NFL will have to figure out what to do next. And this legal mess will continue.

    I personally hope that the 8th circuit rules sooner than later so that this whole mess can move on to the next phase, whatever it is.

  14. yougotclowned says: Jun 12, 2011 4:19 PM

    paulitik74 says:
    Jun 12, 2011 2:03 PM
    “The owners are fair and reasonable men, and have been offering a fair deal all along,”

    *****************************************

    glad you see it my way.

    The owners have been more than fair and offered up AT LEAST 3 proposals. DEmoron probably didn’t even show any of them to the players and didn’t respond.

    DEmoron got up in the middle of negotiating, decertified, and ran like a cheetash to the courthouse to file suits. The owners had no choice but to take their own action to protect themselves, the league and the fans.

    DEmoron only wants to rack up as much publicity for himself, and money for himself
    until the players demand that he settle. Those greedy players and DEmoron are trying to ruin the game, which will devastate retirees and future players cause they only care about themselves.
    The owners care about everyone

  15. laeaglefan says: Jun 12, 2011 6:06 PM

    Whether the owners have been fair or not is a matter of opinion, but at least they’ve been trying to negotiate by putting offers on the table. The fact that the players have refused to respond to their offers and instead just went the legal route puts the onus on them to start negotiating in good faith and not relying on a court victory (which is looking more and more unlikely).

  16. hodag54501 says: Jun 12, 2011 7:02 PM

    The owners are fair and reasonable men, and have been offering a fair deal all along, regardless of what DEmoron said. The players are finally letting the litigator know that they want a deal and cant afford to miss any checks, thats the only reason progress is being made.
    —–
    Really? Fair and reasonable? Maybe to fog your rose-colored glasses, here’s some things to consider:
    1)The entire issue is the result of an action by the owners, not the players. Your “fair and reasonable” idols brought the lockout forward, not the players. It was the same owners who voted in a wide majority to agree to the original deal. The players were/are holding up their end of the deal. It was the “fair and reasonable’ owners who brought this problem, not the players. Again, just so you can understand, it’s not the players who started this fight.
    2)The players are simply working TO KEEP WHAT THEY HAVE. Tomorrow, for the good of the company you work for, voluntarily agree to give up a percentagae of your pay to your “fair and reasonable” boss. That would put you into the same ball yard as what is being asked. So when you falsely state the players are making demands, you are wrong. It’s the owners making the demands. Sorry you can’t figure that out.
    3)The head of the former players union is doing his job, a job he was hired to do. In a fight, you don’t concede, you stand to get respect. The man you call DeMoron deserves an apology from you. If you look at your arguments, perhaps one could give you a similar nasty name. But grownups with perspective don’t call each other childish names.

    To summarize: the owners brought the fight, the players are attempting to save their AGREED TO terms, and their leader is doing his job, regardless of the lack of understanding by some.

    Have a nice day unless you’ve made other plans.

  17. johntaylorblowsweiner says: Jun 12, 2011 7:45 PM

    Hodag and Paulitik74 (same person) says:

    3)The head of the former players union is doing his job, a job he was hired to do. In a fight, you don’t concede, you stand to get respect. The man you call DeMoron deserves an apology from you.

    *****************************************
    LMAO
    That incompetent boob deMORON has a better chance of Jerry Jones kissing his feet than he does of getting an apology from me.

    YOU should be issueing an apology for posting on this site as an imposter, Mrs. DEmoron

    you two have the same style and arent fooling anyone. LMAO!
    More DEmoron shills pretending to be fans

  18. mick730 says: Jun 12, 2011 8:09 PM

    “To summarize: the owners brought the fight, the players are attempting to save their AGREED TO terms….”

    You left something out of your rant. Part of the “agreed to terms” which your players agreed to is the clause allowing for the cancellation of the past CBA with two years notice, by either party; the players or the owners.

    That particular ability, that was agreed to by both parties, was exercised by the owners in 2009. The reason? As several players have openly bragged, the last CBA was weighted too heavily in favor of the players, thus, the owners opted out.

  19. huthuthut says: Jun 12, 2011 8:15 PM

    The owners are fair and reasonable men, and have been offering a fair deal all along…

    ————————-

    We have always been at war with Eastasia.

  20. johntaylorblowsweiner says: Jun 12, 2011 8:22 PM

    Rhode Island Pats Fan says:

    “In the absence of such a ruling, the next three-judge appellate panel may see things the way Circuit Judge Bye did in the stay opinion. If that happens, the League may rue the day it didn’t wait. Without the “lever” of a lockout, the owners would have significantly less leverage in future labor negotiations with the players.”

    ***************************************

    This current group of 3 judges will rule in the owners favor. If the players want to appeal the ruling that is fine.
    Guess who hears that appeal?
    The same 8th Circuit, except that I believe it goes to a panel of 6 or 8 judges (the majority still owner friendly)
    When that panel of judges rule in the owners favor the players can appeal again.

    Guess who hears that appeal? The same 8th Circuit except that the full panel(13 judges I believe, with 11 that are business friendly)
    When the full panel rules in the owners favor then the players can appeal one last time to the Supreme Court, which may not even agree to hear the case. But if they do, then they will favor the owners as well.

    Do your homework next time.
    The only reason they are even talking is because DEmoron has finally figured out he can’t win this in the courts. He has no leverage anymore.
    The owners have all the leverage. DEmoron is just trying to save face.

  21. Rhode Island Patriots Fan says: Jun 12, 2011 10:49 PM

    @johntaylorblowsweiner

    Let me put this in the simplest of terms, so that even you can understand. You’re wrong.

    First, where did you come up with this fiction that any appeal from the three-judge panel goes to an intermediary “panel of 6 or 8 judges”? There is no such thing. The only other appeal within the Eighth Circuit is an “en banc” hearing before the full court, which is eleven circuit judges, and not the “13 judges” you reference. Those hearings are granted on an exception basis only. Translated: It’s not likely to occur. And even if it does, using your simple-minded analysis that merely takes into account that nine of eleven are Republican appointees (and therefore “owner friendly”), how do you explain that the “owner friendly” Eighth Circuit has ruled against the NFL in the past? And the Supreme Court, which you confidently—and amusingly—predict “will favor the owners as well,” just voted 9-0 AGAINST the NFL in the America Needle case in 2010. Did you predict a 9-0 win for the League in that antitrust case?

    Of course, the kicker here is your ignorance relative to the point I made in my post. If a settlement agreement is entered into prior to the Eighth Circuit’s ruling on the appeal, then it will most certainly end all pending litigation, including the owners’ appeal now before the Court. I was clearly not talking about an “en banc” appeal of that ruling, but rather about any FUTURE appeal—of a DIFFERENT case—by the League. If your reading comprehension skills were better, you would have understood that context by my use of the words “next three-judge appellate panel,” which clearly is NOT referencing an “en banc” hearing.

    Finally, cut out the juvenile-minded “DEmoron” references. Judging by those references, not to mention your vulgar public username, I think you’re an embarrassment to those of us who have attempted to argue the case for the owners.

  22. puppetmaster says: Jun 13, 2011 2:07 AM

    mr rhodeislanpansiefan

    I swear people like you make me sick.
    You come on this site and spew out a rambling essay and if someone points something different out and tells you to do homework you get your panties in a bunch.

    Whats the matter, your low self esteem cant accept someone pointing out that you MAY be wrong? You go on a disturbing rant just because of that?

    Are you some law professor or attorney? If so, you must not be that great if you have time to post irate comments on a low level site.

    Get some class, some maturity, and a life

  23. eatingwings says: Jun 13, 2011 12:05 PM

    The players will sign a deal before the start of the normal “Camps.” The players have enjoyed their time off from OTA’s and manatory work outs. When it is time for them to really start getting ready for the season with the teams, the deal will get done and football will occur. Only the “free agents” are itchy right now..

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