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NFL Labor Dispute: Can Mediation Save Next Season?

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By Jason Beahm on February 24, 2011 5:46 AM

It is looking more and more like the NFL labor dispute is going to remain unresolved, resulting in a lockout of the 2011 season. As the March 4 collective bargaining deadline approaches, potential compromises seem less and less likely.

That's because there have been no conversations between the owners and the union since NFL labor talks broke off last week.

In fact, after the last talks broke off, the two sides had hoped to meet twice a week until expiration date, but owners canceled a negotiating session scheduled for last Thursday, and no additional talks are on the calendar, The New York Times reports.

"It was not the meeting we expected when we went there," Jeffrey Pash, the NFL's lead negotiator, told the AP. "A lot of groundwork had been laid for what we hoped would be a very productive session. It became clear over the course of hours of discussion that we had a pretty fundamental disagreement, that there was not a meeting of minds."

There is plenty on the table to discuss in the NFL labor dispute: how to divide $9 billion in annual revenues, a rookie wage scale, expanding the regular season by two games and benefits for retired players, the Associated Press reports.

One idea offering a glimmer of hope is mediation. Brian Dawkins, Jeff Saturday, Mike Vrabel, Brian Waters and other representatives participated in labor negotiations today through a federal mediator, which marked the sixth straight day of mediation over the labor dispute. They were joined by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith, as well as a team of representatives.

It's impossible to determine whether mediation will work, but it seems a wise step for all parties involved in the NFL labor talks, as the current tactics had resulted in a decisive stalemate.

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