For months we've know that the current Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) was coming to an end. The NFL told us; the owners told us; the union told us; and the players told us. The NFL talked up 18 game seasons. The owners (especially Jerry Richardson) talked about getting more money to fund the business. The union talked player safety and the players told us the owners were going to lock them out. They've talked and talked and talked. Just not to each other.
The NFL and the union would meet and then part for months on end. They'd scheduled multiple meetings only to cancel them citing no progress made. Pardon me, but to make progress, don't you have to, you know, keep meeting? Patriots player rep, Matt Light, said he didn't think a deal was forthcoming. Who can question his opinion when they can't even stay in the same room?
And now? Silence. In this case, though, silence may be golden. The two sides are now meeting for the fourth day in a row ...together ... in the same room. Since the NFL and NFLPA agreed to mediation, they've met with George Cohen, director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, a U.S. government agency. Mr. Cohen asked both sides to refrain from communicating with the media, and both sides have agreed. Thus the silence.
The groups have now met for 6 to 8 hours every day for 4 days.
"We are working hard," the NFL’s general counsel and lead labor negotiator, Jeff Pash, said Sunday, "and we’re following the director’s playbook, and we’ll see what we come up with."
"Conversation," New York Jets fullback Tony Richardson said Sunday, "is good."
Both sides have done their posturing. Both sides have pleaded their cases. Now, let's hope that both sides can get down to business and get a deal done. Communication is key. Here's hoping it will finally unlock the CBA negotiations. With luck there can still be football in 2011.