NFL Lockout: Forced Mediation Probably Meaningless

SAINT PAUL, MN - APRIL 6: NFL lawyer David Boies speaks to members of the media following a hearing at the U.S. Courthouse on April 6, 2011 in Saint Paul, Minnesota. NFL players have filed an antitrust lawsuit against the NFL owners after labor talks between the two broke down last month. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Although I hate to be a wet blanket, I've been somewhat surprised by the optimism and happiness over the latest development in the NFL's labor dispute. Judge Susan Nelson has ordered the two sides to continue mediation while she considers the players filing for an injunction to lift the lockout. She had suggested the two sides resume talks and they both agreed, but couldn't settle on a location or format. Nelson has ordered that the mediation be held under supervision in federal court.

Since they both already agreed, her order really changes nothing and it's not likely that any resolution will arrive from the talks. The sides didn't move an inch closer in two or three years, they didn't budge on the main issues in two weeks of talks with a federal mediator... and absolutely nothing has changed. No side has any more or less leverage.

The "forced mediation" is only supposed to take place until Nelson decides she's ready to make a ruling on the injunction. Both sides seem confident they'll win that injunction, so what is the motivation for making concessions and getting a deal done now?

So they'll make a show of things and go back into talks, we'll hear the same rhetoric from both sides and nothing will get decided. The judge should have saved us time and saved both sides billable hours and just rendered a ruling like everyone wants.

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