The NFL and NFLPA will take part in a formal mediation session on July 19, according to a report on Saturday morning. While the owners and players have made progress, the mediation session, ordered by Judge Arthur J. Boylan, is meant to update the court on the progress of the talks, though the work could be done by then. The two sides have been voluntarily negotiating as of late and clear progress has been made, according to reports from the meetings.
Judge Boylan wants the players and owners back at his mediation table as a safety net, it seems. Boylan is taking a hands-on approach in an effort to hammer out some of the smaller details that have been holding up talks.
Boylan ordered both sides to continue mediation without him "in an effort to define and narrow the differences between their respective settlement positions." He also ordered attorneys from both sides to be ready to meet with him on the evening of July 18 "for an in-person agenda-setting session" that presumably would set the stage for meaningful, fruitful talks the following day.
The hope is this mediation session won't be needed. Though progress has been slow as of late, there has been progress in the talks and the two sides may be close to some sort of an agreement. Lawyers are working on the language in advance of any agreement to expedite the process with a deadline to save training camp looming, but the next two weeks are a critical time.
The bottom line: If the mediation session is needed, the NFL is in serious jeopardy of losing at least part of training camp and the exhibition slate.
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