The NFL and NFLPA agreed to a week-long extension of the CBA on Friday. That week is actually five days, however, because of the weekend. Which means Monday (aka today) is one of five days left on the calendar -- barring an additional extension -- to save football.
And it nearly never happened. According to Jim Trotter of Sports Illustrated, an anonymous member of the NFLPA Executive Committee walked into the mediation workroom and informed union president Kevin Mawae -- in the presence of Roger Goodell, Jeff Pash and DeMaurice Smith -- that the union was decertifying.
"We're done! We're decertifying," the anonymous player said, according to Trotter.
Oh yes, and that player added a throat slash while doing so, which is a pretty aggressive negotiation tactic, to say the least.
Matt Jones and I covered this extensively in the labor podcast that dropped earlier today -- decertification would have some serious implications in terms of how it could harm the owners' pockets if things ended in the NFL's worst-case scenario. (As Matt put it, it would basically become like European soccer.)
Whether or not the throat slash/declaration combo actually caused the owners to blink and sign off on the 7-day extension would be fun to find out, but it won't guarantee a labor deal getting done this week. The only thing that will guarantee it is if the two parties get down to business Monday and crank through every issue.
So, naturally, the CBA mediation between the two sides will begin at ... 3 PM EST?
Apparently so -- Albert Breer of the NFL Network said the because "folks [are] traveling in the AM to get" to Washington, D.C., things aren't getting kicked off as promptly as they could.
This is rather odd -- both sides took a weekend break from these very negotiations knowing they'd need to be back at the bargaining table for a hard week's worth of figuring out the future of America's most popular sport.
Everyone involved knew they'd need to be in the nation's capital today for the talks. Which means that everyone involved could have likely figured out a way to align their travel plans in such a manner as to make sure that mediation was able to start at least by noon.
That being said, a 3 PM start time can always equate to an all-night mediation session. But given how much is at stake over the next week (again, barring an additional extension), everyone who cares about the NFL would probably prefer seeing the two sides maximizing their ability and time to negotiate.
UPDATE 11:45 a.m. EST: Judy Batista of the New York Times says negotiations will go into the evening hours Monday night. Both sides will take a dinner break and then resume talking. Batista also says that it was NFLPA lawyer Jeffrey Kessler who delivered the decertification threat.
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