NFL and the Players Resume Mediation

NFL owners and their locked-out players are talking again.

Commissioner Roger Goodell, executive vice president Jeff Pash and four team owners—Mike Brown, John Mara, Jerry Richardson and Art Rooney—arrived at the federal courthouse in Minneapolis on Monday morning along with legal counsel.

The head of the NFL Players Association, DeMaurice Smith, and three other lawyers for the players were present for their side for the closed-door session before U.S. Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan on the division and future of the ever-popular $9 billion business.

None of players listed as plaintiffs in the still-pending federal antitrust lawsuit against the league attended this time. Hall of Famer Carl Eller and attorneys were on hand for retired players.

Boylan presided over four days of mediation last month with no signs of progress. The two sides also met for 16 days earlier this year before talks fell apart March 11 and the lockout began.
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Since then, U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson ordered the lockout lifted because it’s irreparably harming the players and their careers. Days later, on an appeal from the league, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals put Nelson’s ruling on hold and has yet to decide whether to issue a more permanent stay.

The appeals court in St. Louis has a hearing in the case set for June 3.

Also pending is an order from U.S. District Judge David Doty on the fate of some $4 billion in broadcast revenue he previously ruled was unfairly secured by the NFL in the last round of contract extensions with the networks to use as leverage in the form of financial padding for the work stoppage. Even if a lockout prevents games from being televised, the league would still get paid.

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