Mediator needs to step up, stand up, take control

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As the negotiations between the NFL and the players’ union head toward an implosion, there’s one man who’s in position to try to get this thing back on track.

George Cohen.

We’ve read great things in the media about the director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, but we’re far from impressed by his inability to get the two sides to honor the vow of silence that he requested when the process began.  If he can’t get them to respect that one specific wish, we can only wonder how things are unfolding behind closed doors.  Though he has few options since he has no power, he comes off now as an impotent observer to an inevitable collapse in the negotiations.

That’s why the two sides need to get someone else involved, if they’re serious about working this out.  And if the NFL genuinely is interested in doing a deal and genuinely convinced that the NFLPA is stonewalling in the hopes of justifying litigation, the NFL should suggest asking Judge David Doty to mediate.

Federal judges will from time to time serve as mediators in the cases they handle, and Doty is in position to demand silence and impose consequences if silence isn’t maintained.  He also will be able to spot any intransigence or other shenanigans.  The fact that the league has accused Doty of bias would make a proposal by the league to use Doty seem to reflect a genuine desire to get something accomplished.

For now, Cohen has one more chance.  And he needs to pay close attention to what the two sides are saying.  We’ve detected a high level of frustration from the union side based on the fact that players had no chance to speak to or with the cluster of owners who arrived on Thursday.  It would be wise for the mediator to spot their anxiety and to recommend a 60-to-90 minute session, during which the players can vent and the owners would listen (or at least pretend to listen).  That simple gesture could take a lot of the steam out of the room, and perhaps set the stage for real progress.

We’ll know more soon about whether Cohen or anyone else will stand up and display real leadership in this delicate time for the nation’s dominant sport.

16 responses to “Mediator needs to step up, stand up, take control

  1. I understand there is to be prayer services if there is a shutdown as millions will be devastated when the only life most of these people have come to a close on Sunday. IT WILL NOT BE THE END OF THE HUMAN RACE.

  2. Sad situation. But, this a poor analysis of mediation. While you note that the mediator has no power, you’re critical of him for not controlling the parties. Mediators can try to guide parties or persuade parties, but, of course, they can’t control them. In this situation, you have two strong-willed parties and a mediator trying to hang on and keep them focused on opportunities for agreement. That’s what he should be doing, and it’s all he can do.

  3. So, why didn’t they have a chance to speak to the owneres? I’ve read, I believe it Alex Marvez of Fox that the union spent all day at their HQs a couple of blocks away? Why? Why couldn’t they request to speak to the owners? Again, this is the players as you say, “stonewalling” in order to get it to litigation.

  4. All of these “leaders” taking shots at each other and acting like children need to grow up…is there any leadership left at all in the NFL and NFLPA? Anyone worth following and listening to?

    I think this is going to be a sad day for football.

  5. You’re saying that the League should ask for Judge Doty as a mediator BECAUSE he’s generally recognized as biased towards the players?

    I know that meant to be “the offer they can’t refuse” but I don’t think I’d want to put all my eggs in Doty’s basket if I were an NFL owner.

    There’s countless other qualified judges and mediators out there – George Mitchell for example has some baseline understanding of sports economics – and might be an unbiased third party who could review the NFL books privately to ensure that neither the NFLPA nor other owners have access to the proprietary information.

    Your main point is sound though – someone needs to demonstrate some leadership. Both sides are money crazy adults acting like children, and numerous hard working j0esixpacks out there who depend on the NFL to pay their mortgages are the ones who are being hurt.

  6. Does anyone really think that Cohen is unbiased in this case?

    Iam sure that he has orders from PrezBO, Pelosi, and Reid to do whatever it takes to enable the NFLPA to win this solely b/c they are a union and PrezBO and all the democrats are pro-union and anti-private sector business

    I really think this is a conflict for the liberal government to mediate this case.

    Let these two entities negotiate until they can resolve this themselves.

    The government NEVER does anything right so how can they be trusted with this case?

  7. The Chicago Tribune Chris Kuc wrote this morning that the Chicago Blackhawks went to Walter Reed Hospital to visit with the US troops who have been injured in Iraq and Afghanistan and came out saying how lucky they were and saw what the real world is . I would recommend that the owners and union take a few hours off and do the same and then realize how lucky they are and how foolish they look fighting over $9 bilion dollars to play a game. Please get real.

  8. “the NFL should suggest asking Judge David Doty to mediate the case.”
    Wow I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time. the owners hire the guy that they want to get rid of

  9. So now the NFL is headed for an IMPLOSION ?

    and you hold out hope on the mediator?

    Gotta hand it to you.

    Every story you write on this you create a silver lining.

  10. Judge Doty is 82 years old. This is his last CBA involvement before he snowmobiles off into the sunset.

  11. “That’s why the two sides need to get someone else involved, if they’re serious about working this out.”

    What good will that do, really?

    I don’t think it really matters how talented the mediator is, considering both sides are still acting like boneheads.

  12. Mike, I guess you just don’t understand what a mediator does. The mediator has done an excellent job, he has got the two sides talking.
    The mediator isn’t there to scold or make judgement calls. He is there to help the two sides find common ground to build a CBA on. Apparently, Mike you seem to think he is some kind of czar.

    Mike, the good news is that as tomorrow there will be no more mediator and no more discussions. Just lawsuits. And we, your readers, will away get the NFL owners’ spin on the legal matters from you.

  13. The mediator needs to be a true fan. A guy making 60K a year struggling to feed his family and pay for his kids education. The mediator doesn’t need to be somebody charging 1800/hour. This thing is just getting beyond stupid.

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