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Mediation Between the NFL and Retired Players

Monday, September, 2, 2013

As news reports throughout the media have continued to raise awareness about the dangers of concussions and other head injuries, the NFL has come under scrutiny.  Recently, ESPN decided to walk away from a joint venture project with PBS regarding concussions after ESPN was pressured to do so by the NFL itself.


In the past few weeks, retired NFL players have met with the NFL in mediation sessions.  The mediation sessions have opened like many lawyers have expected, with great similarity to first meetings in mediation sessions across numerous industries.  The retired players open the mediation session with an extremely high demand, and then the National Football League replied with a very low opening offer.


The mediator then took the information from both parties and helped to broker the deal by convincing the involved players that they ran the risk of losing the case entirely.  This is much like the way mediation sessions around the country achieve success regardless of the issue at hand.  When two disputing parties are unable to come to an agreement on their own, a trained mediator can help lead conversations toward an acceptable conclusion.  More often than not, mediators can help to achieve resolution in cases that have been stalled for months or even years.


Another interesting point regarding the NFL recently relates to a planned ruling from Judge Anita Brody regarding the pending motion to dismiss all claims currently in the court on the grounds that these should be pursued through arbitration.  Currently, the labor deal between the NFL PA and the National Football League lays out the guidelines for pursuing arbitration claims in the event of a dispute.  If this were to have happened, this loss was the same one being referenced by the mediator in the retired player case.  In this scenario, mediation helped achieve an efficient and effective close to the case.