Federal Mediator Won't Get a New CBA Done

The news that the NFL and NFLPA agreed to mediation in their labor dispute was viewed as a positive sign that the two sides are serious about reaching an agreement before the current CBA expires at 11:59 p.m. ET on March 3.

But don’t believe that nonsense. This is nothing more than a public relations move and an attempt to keep the negotiations out of the public spotlight.


NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA president Kevin Mawae may want us to believe that this is a sign that a lockout will be prevented, but I’m not buying what they’re selling.

Look, it’s not a bad thing, to be sure, as getting these two sides to agree on anything has to be considered some sort of progress.

Imagine the rancor at the table when it comes time to order lunch. “We want sandwiches”; no, we demand filet mignon!”…

But while it may indicate some progress, it’s important to note that a mediator is not the same thing as an arbitor. They can only make recommendations.

In short, the mediator has no binding authority. He can’t make decisions, only suggestions.

The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, an independent U.S. government agency, will oversee negotiations in Washington beginning Friday. It’s good that the sides are talking after walking away from the bargaining table last week.

But unless the owners back off on their unstated desire to break the union, there appears to be little chance that an agreement will be in place before the CBA expires. At that point the owners will lock out the players and all transactions will be on hold.

Now, there will eventually be labor peace again; I’m just not sure how soon that will be. I’m guessing just before the start of the scheduled preseason games and that won’t give teams much time to sign players and assemble a roster.

That is good news for teams like the Packers, as their rivals won’t have much time for improvement. Meanwhile, Green Bay improves by virtue of all of the injured players they will have coming back.

Yes, there will be a season. There is too much money at stake for an agreement not to be an eventuality. How to split up the $9 billion in annual revenue is the main issue. Under the old agreement, the owners took $1 billion off the top. Now, they want that amount doubled.

The owners push for an 18-game schedule is another sticking point, but as I wrote in a previous article, I feel that is a negotiable point for the owners as long as they get the money they want.

Other issues include the rookie wage scale and benefits for retired players.

Hey, mediation isn’t a bad thing but it isn’t a pancea. I hate to be the grinch, but it just seems like there is such a wide schism between the sides that the deadline will pass without a new agreement in place.

That gap between the two sides is the Grand Canyon.

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