All 10 members of the NFL owners’ labor committee and Saints quarterback Drew Brees attended Wednesday’s mediation session between the league and the players’ union, with fewer than 40 hours left until the collective bargaining agreement expires.
The ninth day of talks at the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service came on the same day that the league’s 32 team owners were gathering to meet at a hotel about 25 miles away in Chantilly, Va.
The CBA runs out at midnight Eastern time as Thursday becomes Friday, and among the possibilities are that the owners lock out the players or that the union decertifies. Whatever happens this week could cause the country’s most popular sport to lose regular-season games to a work stoppage for the first time since 1987. Or, perhaps, everything could be resolved by management and labor in an industry with revenues topping $9 billion annually.
“So far, obviously, we haven’t been successful,” Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson said on his way into the mediation session shortly before 10 a.m., “but we’re optimistic in due time we will.”
Added Richardson: “We have a league meeting, and we decided it would be a good idea for our full committee to meet with the mediation process this morning. Our objective, of course, is to negotiate a fair agreement for the players and the teams.”
NFL general counsel and lead labor negotiator Jeff Pash reiterated that it is possible that the league and union could agree to extend the deadline for arriving at a new CBA.
“We have to see where we are. We’ve said that’s an option. We’re not taking anything off the table,” Pash said.