The National Football League Players Association and the NFL owners agreed today to sit down with the Federal Mediation and Concilliation Service, an independent U.S. government agency. They've scheduled seven consecutive days of negotiations, beginning tomorrow.
"Any time that both sides of negotiations can get together, whether through conventional means of bargaining or mediation, to come to an agreement that can benefit all parties, it is a good thing," NFLPA president Kevin Mawae told The Associated Press in an e-mail.
Now, this sounds like it should be a step in the right direction. . .but, as noted disposable lighter distribution tycoon Winston Wolf once intoned, let's not start trucking each other's Bics quite yet.
George H. Cohen, the director of the FMCS, can make suggestions and recommendations, but he can't impose anything on either side. It's still totally up to the players and the owners to come to an agreement. On the bright side, Cohen said that he met with both sides independently, and they both willingly accepted his invitation to come to the mediation table.
I guess it's a good thing that these folks are all at least making an attempt to get something done before the lockout hits on March 4. But, again, there's still a long ways to go in these negotiations. . .both sides seem to be pretty firm in their positions thus far, and both sides are apparently led by some pretty stubborn folks (hence the reason that nothing has gotten done to this point). Seven days of mediation sounds like a lot but, again, it's ultimately up to both sides to decide to do what's best for the game as well as to feel that their side didn't concede too much to the other.