SBD/April 20, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NFL Lockout Watch, Day 40: Owners, Players Make "Some Progress" In Seven Hours Of Talks

The NFL and the players "met for seven hours Tuesday, their third day of court-ordered mediation before U.S. Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan," and it was a "tough day of talks, with the sides largely spending time separately, but 'some progress' was made," according to sources cited by Albert Breer of NFL.com. Hanging over this week's talks is the "prospect of a ruling from U.S. District Judge Susan Nelson, who ordered this mediation, on the players' request for an injunction to lift the NFL lockout." When the sides resumed mediation today at 9:30am CT in Boylan's chambers, it will have been two weeks since Nelson said she expected to rule in "a couple weeks." NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell yesterday was joined by Exec VP & General Counsel Jeff Pash, outside counsel Bob Batterman, Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones, Panthers Owner Jerry Richardson, Broncos Owner Pat Bowlen, Packers President & CEO Mark Murphy and Falcons President Rich McKay. The players were led by NFLPA outside counsel Jim Quinn and local counsel Barbara Berens, as well as Chiefs LB Mike Vrabel and free agent LB Ben Leber. NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith "didn't participate in Tuesday's proceedings while dealing with a family medical emergency," and NFLPA outside counsel Jeffrey Kessler was "in Japan handling a prior commitment with another client." The retired players also were represented yesterday, and the group's lead attorney, Michael Hausfeld, "took exception with the idea that the sides involved in Minneapolis aren't taking this round of mediation seriously." Hausfeld: "This is no charade, this is no illusion. This is going to come to a resolution, either by the parties compromising and agreeing or by a judgment" (NFL.com, 4/19). In N.Y., Bart Hubbuch notes there are "expectations" that Nelson "could rule on the lockout as soon as today." Sources on both sides said that they "expect it any day now" (N.Y. POST, 4/20).

SILENCE IS GOLDEN: In Minneapolis, James Walsh writes, "Is no news good news? ... The fact that the parties left the ninth-floor chambers of U.S. Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan after seven hours of talks without red faces, bloody noses or fingermarks around their necks has to count for something, right? Maybe." The sides "aren't talking, as per court gag order," but Goodell, Jones and Leber "all confirmed they are scheduled to meet in Minneapolis again" today. So the process is "at least continuing" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 4/20). However, ESPN's John Clayton notes there was "not much progress" in the mediated talks. Clayton: "You can still see that both sides are kind of battling and almost as if they're looking forward to seeing if there's going to be a ruling eventually by Judge Nelson and then try to move on from there." Clayton: "They don't seem to want to be at the bargaining table right now, and Judge Nelson is trying to make sure she can get this out of the court" ("SportsCenter Special," ESPN, 4/19).
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