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The other side of the Arthur Boylan vacation

A. Boylan AP

We’ve given U.S. Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan a hard time lately for his decision to go on vacation during one of the most critical junctures of the labor talks.

And we’re not the only ones perplexed by Boylan’s decision to bail. “If he wants a seat at the ‘big boys’ table, he could change or skip his vacation,” one team executive said.  “To be known as the ‘man who saved football’ would be a nice swap.”

But in the hopes of being fair to Judge Boylan (and of not being audited in the near future), there’s another side to this story.  The NFL and the players have known for weeks about Judge Boylan’s vacation plans.  And yet they continued to spend only two days per week in face-to-face meetings.  When by all appearances a marathon session over Fourth of July weekend could have possibly resulted in an agreement in principle, it’s hard for the NFL or the players to credibly complain about Judge Boylan refusing to sacrifice his well-documented vacation plans.

Also, it could be that Judge Boylan, like the rest of us, is sick of the constant chorus of “we’re close, we’re close” coming from the talks.  Maybe he finally realized that they’re going to string this out until the last possible point at which the preseason can be saved, and that he concluded that point won’t come at any point before July 19.

Also, let’s not forget what Judge Boylan has accomplished.  After he was appointed to mediate, the buzz in the Minnesota legal community was that Judge Boylan could get it done.  After some on the league’s side of the table sneered at Judge Boylan’s inexperience in such complex matters, he rolled up his sleeves and figured out the issues.  After the talks had stalled, he took Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA* executive director DeMaurice Smith to lunch, helping the two men forge the kind of relationship that is critical not just to a short-term deal but also to long-term labor peace.  After the talks nearly imploded on June 30, Judge Boylan clunked the two sides’ heads together like Moe on Larry and Curly, giving the process the kick in the ass it so desperately needed.

It was Judge Boylan who wanted to keep working after midnight in Minnesota on July 1.  It was Judge Boylan who wanted to spend the three-day weekend finishing the job.  Thus, when considering the totality of the situation, it looks like Judge Boylan has personally done more to get this thing done than anyone else.

At this point, the lowest-paid guy in the room fully deserves a break.  And if the NFL and the players can’t find a way to communicate over the next week without the mediator/chaperon present, they fully deserve what they’ll eventually get.

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32 Responses to “The other side of the Arthur Boylan vacation”
  1. Topher says: Jul 10, 2011 2:56 PM

    Any idiot can see Boylan going on vacation as a written in stone sign that neither the league nor the players are trying all that hard.

  2. j0esixpack says: Jul 10, 2011 2:58 PM

    It’s good to see this article Mike

    The Owners and Players are all big boys – they have it within their power to negotiate a deal at any point, with or without Judge Boyle.

    The onus falls on them – not him.

    The world doesn’t revolve around them and their reluctance to forge a deal sooner rather than later increases the chances that they’ll miss games and miss revenue – and it serves them right if that happens.

    Ultimately I expect they’ll come to an agreement only once the deadline for missing games that can’t be made up is reached

    While we as fans will have a full season, the quality of the game – lacking a meaningful offseason to get rookies and free agents ready to play – will result in some seriously sub par football.

    If I were a season ticket holder I’d be considering a class action lawsuit to get a partial refund for this season based on what is already going to be lower quality football for which we’re expected to pay full price.

  3. SpartaChris says: Jul 10, 2011 2:59 PM

    Like I said before, perhaps his taking a vacation now is a sign things aren’t nearly as close as we’d all like to believe?

    Besides, as the article correctly points out, neither the league nor the players have any right to complain. They’ve had since March to work a deal out, and only recently decided to start taking things seriously. I wouldn’t put my life on hold for these clowns, so I don’t blame Boylan for taking a vacation now.

  4. trbowman says: Jul 10, 2011 3:01 PM

    Clayton says 98-99% chance of a deal done by Friday……yeah right .

  5. sdboltaction says: Jul 10, 2011 3:02 PM

    Yea, I’ll drink to that. No scapegoating that dude here.

  6. chatham10 says: Jul 10, 2011 3:03 PM

    This should not be about Judge Boylan, these people have had time to work on this and get it done but no, they work only 2 days a week and then bitch about the judge taking his vacation. I guess Goodell and Smith only can afford to work a couple of days since one is only getting paid a $1. and the other .67 cents. The uproar will be really something if these clowns cannot get a CBA done and the season is pushed back and the uproar will be “why did they not work full time on this instead of two days a week and off over the 4th. They keep talking about how hard they are working to complete this for the players and the fans, all I know if most of the people who have jobs and only showed up 2 days a week would not last long.

  7. jetsforever says: Jul 10, 2011 3:09 PM

    Wait, when I go on vacation my work doesn’t stop…I always have my team to step in and fill the the temporary void. Where is his backup?

  8. intherelikeswimwear says: Jul 10, 2011 3:09 PM

    …or the deal is all but signed and there is nothing left to mediate. Lawyers just crossing “t”s and dotting “i”s.

  9. hobartbaker says: Jul 10, 2011 3:13 PM

    Judge Boylan could not be reached for comment as he is currently careening along a backroad between Reno and Vegas in the 1976 Eldorado convertible he restored, drinking beer with the teen runaways he met at the rest stop.

  10. batfreight says: Jul 10, 2011 3:13 PM

    The idea that Boylan bears any responsibility to babysit these greedy nitwits is laughable.

  11. polishkingski says: Jul 10, 2011 3:18 PM

    let pam oliver in the room wearing tight jeans and heels and massage the backs of all they people involved…..that will relax all involved and a deal gets done. see? easy.

  12. derekjetersmansion says: Jul 10, 2011 3:26 PM

    @ j0esixpack

    You bring up an interesting point about the fans suing.
    First of all, they aren’t missing anything barring De Smith or Goodell literally ripping the final draft of the CBA to shreds with their hands.

    Second, the NFL is the only one of the Big 4 sports with serious mini-camps and OTAs for veterans. The other 3 sports only do training camps and Spring Training. I think it’d be a frivolous lawsuit if you made that argument.

  13. derekjetersmansion says: Jul 10, 2011 3:28 PM

    I’d be willing to bet this vacation was planned before mediation even started.

  14. vetdana says: Jul 10, 2011 3:32 PM

    Where is the sense of urgency? If the deal were as close as some believe, they would be working all weekend to wrap this up before they risk losing the first pre season games revenue. I dont think they are that close or THEY WOULD BE NEGOTIATING NOW !

  15. patsforever says: Jul 10, 2011 3:34 PM

    It is the owners and players fault that they didn’t take advantage of the time they had. However, Boylan could have been a hero in the eyes of the fans. He could have put aside his personal interests to advance the greater good. I don’t necessarily fault him for this, but I would personally prefer to be a modern American legend.

  16. annnann says: Jul 10, 2011 3:36 PM

    I don’t blame Boylan at all. They should be able to work this out without him.

    The only thing owners and players are committed to right now is taking their 5 day vacation breaks after working for- oh the horror……two days.

  17. hobartbaker says: Jul 10, 2011 4:04 PM

    They did make a last minute call to Arthur to see if he could change his plans. But his cell phone just kept ringing and ringing in the trash bin outside the courthouse where he dropped it on Friday afternoon.

  18. stairwayto7 says: Jul 10, 2011 4:08 PM

    Lockout over 110 days old and he goes on vacation..I LOVE IT! The fault belongs soley on the rat Goodell, owners and D.Smith! How many days have Godell and D.Smith met face to face in last 4 months?? I hope dude takes a 3 week vacation!

  19. j0esixpack says: Jul 10, 2011 4:16 PM

    @derekjetersmansion

    Different sports have different offseason structures – that wouldn’t impact a lawsuit.

    The question is whether season ticket holders are paying only for quantity – or whether the QUALITY of the game has some bearing on the ticket price

    If the owners started the season with scabs, I’d say the season ticket holders would definitely have a case that they didn’t get what they paid for.

    We’re only talking a lesser degree in the case of unprepared veterans and drafted rookies.

    (Still, I’d bet that the owners worked in some fine print in their ticket sale policy that protects them from suit.)

    Regardless, I still think the principle that we should be less than pleased as fans to watch sub par football holds true.

  20. realitypolice says: Jul 10, 2011 4:39 PM

    patsforever says:
    Jul 10, 2011 3:34 PM
    It is the owners and players fault that they didn’t take advantage of the time they had. However, Boylan could have been a hero in the eyes of the fans. He could have put aside his personal interests to advance the greater good. I don’t necessarily fault him for this, but I would personally prefer to be a modern American legend.
    ==========================

    If he cancelled his vacation and stuck around till the deal was done, three weeks from the date the agreement is finalized, america wouldn’t even remember who he was.

    Do you honestly believe that with all of the people that will be standing in front of microphones taking credit for this that HE is going to be the guy who winds up being held up as the savior of football in America?

    Don’t make the mistake of thinking that all of the millions of football fans in America are like us- following every detail and knowing all of the names of all the parties.

    I’d bet if you polled every football fan in America, 75% wouldn’t be able able to tell you who Arthur Boylan was or pick him out of a lineup.

    Do an experiment the next time you are in a sports bar- ask 20 random strangers who the mediator presiding over the CBA negotiations is.

    Trust me, this guy is not going down in history, no matter what he does, as an “American Legend”.

  21. dave1961 says: Jul 10, 2011 4:41 PM

    For the big team executive that called out the judge for vacation…. sit down and shut your big pie hole.

    The owners and you executives all went on your vacations for the 4th oif July and dumped negoiations that were going fell. Owners make no sacrifices to get the deal done.

    I love these nutless executives that are quoted in the dark. Put your name out there Jerry Jones, America’s favorite jackass.

  22. jsratx says: Jul 10, 2011 4:43 PM

    I blame Obama.

  23. laeaglefan says: Jul 10, 2011 5:14 PM

    It makes you wonder how these owners got as rich as they did, if they’ve only worked two days a week their whole lives.

  24. saturn1111 says: Jul 10, 2011 5:24 PM

    joesixpack wrote:

    “The question is whether season ticket holders are paying only for quantity – or whether the QUALITY of the game has some bearing on the ticket price ”

    I’ll go you one better Joe. The question is whether season ticket holders are paying for the same quality they expected when they bought the tickets.

  25. vetdana says: Jul 10, 2011 5:40 PM

    AT realitypolice says:
    Jul 10, 2011 4:39 PM
    For once, I have to totally agree with you…The public, as a whole, have no idea about what is going on in regards to the lockout. I have tested your theory and confirm same.[ Most of my coworkers do not follow lockout news]

  26. clownburger says: Jul 10, 2011 5:41 PM

    Blah Blah Blah

    The deal will get done on Friday.

    Anything you read about the lockout until then is wasting a portion of your life.

  27. drgreenstreak says: Jul 10, 2011 5:51 PM

    dave1961 says : …”I love these nutless executives that are quoted in the dark…”

    Look who did the quoting without reference to who said what or what his source is.
    You’re pretty quick to throw some condemnation out there, Dave. Then again, maybe you’re the only one feeling men for nuts.

  28. pwall1 says: Jul 10, 2011 6:10 PM

    All the ripping Judge Boylan for going on vacation is ridiculous. He’s a judge – so he’s a busy guy, and had to have planned this vacation for awhile now. If the owners and players can’t get this deal done by themselves, we’re in pretty terrible shape.

  29. elmustardo says: Jul 10, 2011 6:30 PM

    trbowman

    I thought you were taking a break?

    Haven’t you spent the last 3 weeks continually stating that this mess has gone on long enough, and that you won’t be returning until the CBA is signed/sealed/delivered?

  30. realitypolice says: Jul 10, 2011 7:17 PM

    vetdana says:
    Jul 10, 2011 3:32 PM
    Where is the sense of urgency? If the deal were as close as some believe, they would be working all weekend to wrap this up before they risk losing the first pre season games revenue. I dont think they are that close or THEY WOULD BE NEGOTIATING NOW !
    ========================

    Every fact can be twisted to prove anyone’s point, whatever it is.

    It’s just as easy for me to say that they must be close, otherwise they would be working all weekend to to try and get closer so they can “wrap this up before they risk losing the first preseason game’s revenue.”

    See how that works? Same fact (they are not meeting this weekend) used to make a totally different conclusion.

    If you were involved in a negotiation, would you be more likely to take the weekend off if you thought you were in good shape to get the deal done on time or if you thought that you weren’t?

  31. GG Eden says: Jul 10, 2011 10:13 PM

    Good article. Showing how now the owners/players are resorting to delegating blame to their mediator.

  32. jcg23 says: Jul 11, 2011 2:25 AM

    I was never mad at the Judge for taking a vacation. The players and owners only negotiating two days a freaking week? That’s what I was mad at.

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