After four long and intense mediation sessions between the NFL and its locked-out players, the judge decided to give both parties an extended break.
By the time they reconvene in mid-May, the landscape of their discussions could be completely different.
Executive vice president Jeff Pash, the NFL’s lead negotiator, said Wednesday that U.S. Judge Magistrate Arthur Boylan told both sides they likely won’t convene again until May 16 because he has a few other matters on his judicial calendar.
In the interim, U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson is expected to decide well before then on the players’ request to immediately lift the now 40-day-old lockout.
Also coming: U.S. District Judge David Doty has scheduled a hearing for May 12 on the players’ request for damages after he ruled in March that the NFL did not maximize revenues for both sides when it renegotiated $4 billion in TV contracts with the labor dispute looming.
Finally, there could be a fourth set of lawyers and players at the mediation table, with a Philadelphia law firm talking with another group of players about joining the fight.
“We’ve had discussions about representing some additional players who want to have a voice in the matter,” said Bryan Clobes of Cafferty Faucher.
Those discussions are ongoing, but all of those elements combined could swing the leverage to one side or the other in a case where there has been little of it, perhaps increasing the chances the court-ordered mediation will produce some much-needed progress with the first preseason game just 3 1/2 months away.
“There’s a lot of uncertainties right now,” Pash said. “I think when we’re back together we’ll know more. People’s legal positions will be clearer.”
Both sides said the sessions with Boylan were positive and productive.