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NFL Lockout: Just a phone call away?

Representatives from the NFL and the players will have a conference call to discussion mediation with Judge Susan Nelson today. The call is the result of Nelson's plea during Wednesday's hearing that both sides get back to the negotiating table, with her mediation, and resolve the labor impasse. Yesterday, in what looked like PR moves designed to curry favor, both sides pitched their own proposals for mediation: the players under Judge Nelson and the NFL through the Federal Mediation service. 

The NFL wants to keep talks outside of the auspices of Federal court. Players see Federal court as their only hope for a fair settlement. On today's conference call, Nelson will be trying to work with both sides to find an agreeable means of resuming negotiations, some sort of compromise between the two sides' desire for supervision. 

In their letter lobbying to return to Federal mediation, owners and the league did stipulate that they would not put the NFLPA's decertification at risk or their antitrust lawsuit. That's a pretty big give from the league. Enough to make you think they want to get a deal done with Judge Doty's gavel ready to drop on a potentially expensive damages award to players over the TV contracts and lockout insurance in late May. 

The call happens at 10 a.m. Eastern today. One resolution pitched by PFT is a return to mediation under George Cohen under the supervision of Judge Nelson, i.e. giving Cohen the authority to make some things happen. 

A conference call is no panacea for this mess, but it is a hopeful sign. Stay tuned. 

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