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Five days later, mediation resumes

Pete Kendall, Charlie Batch, Tony Richardson

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Charlie Batch, left, smiles as he enters union negotiations with Pete Kendall and NY Jets fullback Tony Richardson, for an NFL/NFLPA mediation session at Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service headquarters in Washington, on Monday, Feb. 21, 2011. After months of infrequent, and sometimes contentious bargaining, the league and union have met every day since Friday, to come to terms over a series of issues, not least of which is how to divide about $9 billion in annual revenues. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)


After spending some time with today’s edition of PFT Live, Daniel Kaplan of SportsBusiness Journal has joined the horde/throng/gaggle of reporters outside the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service in Washington as the NFL and players’ union meet for the first time since breaking at noon or so on Thursday.

The meeting, due to begin at 1:00 p.m. ET, finally features the presence of an owner. Kaplan and others report that Giants co-owner John Mara joined the league’s contingent.

One-half out of 32 ain’t bad.

Wait, yes it is.

Though NFL general counsel Jeff Pash told the reporters that the league believes the mediation is serious, we’re serious when we say we no longer believe anyone. The signs are pointing to the decertification/lockout scenario, and the vow of Pats owner Robert Kraft that failure to get a deal done would be “criminal” could soon come to fruition.

Albert Breer of NFL Network reports that NFLPA president Kevin Mawae continues to be absent from the mediation. He’s due to finally arrive Tuesday.

The reasons for Mawae’s non-involvement aren’t known. The league repeatedly has mentioned over the past several weeks Mawae’s radio comments that the players “got such a great deal” in 2006. Though his presence could prompt the league to reiterate the remarks in the room as frequently as the league surely has, Mawae would be a constant reminder of the reality that the president of the union believes (or at least said he believes) that the players got a great deal the last time around, which means (from the league’s perspective) that a correction is justified.

Despite the absence of Mawae, a “huge contingent” of current and former players are attending the meeting, including Ben Leber, Brian Dawkins, Charlie Batch, Chester Pitts, Cornelius Bennett, Jake Scott, Jay Feely, Jeff Saturday, and Jim McFarland.

The broader question is whether the two sides will be serious about making real progress on one of the disputed issues: (1) revenue split; (2) length of season; (3) rookie wage scale, with savings going to retired players; and (4) Judge Doty’s ongoing jurisdiction. If they don’t, they can either waste their time, or they can do something productive.

Or, as the case may be given the intended courses of action, destructive.

Stay tuned. Though we try to be optimistic, the glass is about 1/1000th full at this point.