WASHINGTON, DC (Sports Network) – NFL players have accepted the recommendation of a U.S. District Court judge to begin federal mediation in an effort to settle their litigation with the league.
In a letter sent to Minnesota Judge Susan Richard Nelson on Thursday, the lead attorney for the players said they were prepared to begin mediation immediately.
“Our agreement is, of course, contingent on the NFL defendants’ agreement that they will not attempt to use this, our willingness to mediate, against [the players] in some way,” Barbara P. Berens wrote in the letter.
Berens cited the possibility that the NFL would argue further mediation constitutes collective bargaining by the players, who decertified their union to file an antitrust lawsuit against the league.
Judge Nelson said Wednesday she would need several weeks to rule on whether or not to grant an injunction to lift the NFL lockout, while also suggesting federal mediation in Minnesota federal court.
A statement issued Thursday by the NFLPA — acting only as an advisor to the plaintiffs — said players embraced that recommendation.
“Though the injunction to lift the owners’ lockout remains under Judge Nelson’s consideration, the players took to heart her advice … that the two sides should not delay to meet,” the statement said.
The players’ announcement was not surprising. Jim Quinn, acting as outside counsel for the players, said Wednesday they would consider returning to mediation.
“Any way to get the players back on the field,” he said.
Of course, the sides have already been down this road. Before the players decertified their union and the owners began the lockout, the sides met for several weeks with federal mediator George Cohen.