The NFL and its locked-out players are on the verge of beginning a new round of talks under the direction of a mediator, although it was not clear Sunday on which side’s terms such mediation would take place.
There were indications Sunday that talks were about to resume at the behest of the federal judge in Minnesota who is considering the players’ request for an injunction to end the sport’s month-old shutdown.
U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson told attorneys for the league and the players Wednesday at a hearing in St. Paul, Minn., that she would need a “couple of weeks” to rule on the players’ injunction request. Nelson urged both sides to resume talks in the meantime using the resources of the federal court.
The league and players’ side exchanged letters Thursday, with the players’ side saying it was accepting Nelson’s offer for mediation under the auspices of the court and the league suggesting a resumption of negotiations overseen by federal mediator George H. Cohen. Representatives of the league and the players’ side spoke to Nelson via conference call Friday.
ESPN reported Sunday that Nelson told the league and the players’ side that she will force them into mediated talks early this week. There was no confirmation of that from either side, as several representatives of the NFL and the players’ side declined to comment or did not return messages seeking comment.
But agent Drew Rosenhaus wrote on Twitter: “Thank you Judge Nelson for getting the sides back to the table! Just in time to get a new deal a few weeks before the draft — good timing!”
Rosenhaus also wrote, “Now is the best time to do a deal before the damage becomes severe to everyone involved with the game.”
Talks between the league and the now-dissolved players’ union collapsed March 11. The players decertified their union that day and filed an antitrust lawsuit against the sport’s franchise owners, who locked out the players March 12.