U.S. District Court Judge Susan Richard Nelson concluded Wednesday’s court hearing in Minneapolis by saying she will take the matter “under advisement.” She also urged the NFL and its players association to resume negotiations on a new collective bargaining agreement.
“We have said from the beginning that we are prepared to resume collective bargaining. The Federal Mediation Service has a lot of experience and is ready to go. All it takes is for the players association, formerly known as the union, to decide they are prepared to come back and bargain,” NFL legal counsel David Boies told reporters following Wednesday’s hearing.
“They have been trying to avoid collective bargaining, so it does not surprise me that is the union’s position; however, I think that if we are going to get a resolution, if we are going to get people back to the bargaining table so that we can reach a settlement and have a football season, it is going to be necessary that we do it in a normal collective bargaining context,” Boies said.
“The Federal Mediation Service does this for a living. They are the people that ought to be putting this forward. If we can just get the union to sit down with us, we can make a lot of progress.”
A group of NFL players filed suit in Minneapolis, ostensibly for all of the members of the decertified players union, to have the league-imposed lockout of the players overruled. Judge Nelson delayed her ruling with the hope the two sides will agree to resume negotiations. She said it would take a “couple of weeks” for her to rule and she cautioned that it would represent legal precedent, which introduces an element of unpredictability that could impact one of the two sides negatively.
“The judge suggested possible mediation in this litigation. That’s certainly something we’d consider,” players association attorney Jim Quinn said. “Any way to get the players back on the field playing for the fans and for the players makes sense.”
“We hope that all of our fans continue to have patience with us,” players association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith said. “Keep rooting for the players. Keep rooting for football.”
Packers President Mark Murphy told packers.com Wednesday afternoon that he remains hopeful of an agreement.
In a letter to Packers season-ticket holders on Monday, “We let them know that as defending Super Bowl champions we’d be hosting the opening kickoff to the season. We have tough issues to get through but we’re hopeful of an agreement,” Murphy said.
“There’s a deal to be made. It’s just hope.”
Vic Ketchman is a veteran of 39 NFL seasons and has covered the Steelers and Jaguars prior to coming to Green Bay.