The NFL and NFLPA have agreed to use the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service to assist them in negotiations on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, according to Mark Maske of the Washington Post. Entering mediation doesn't guarantee a new CBA by any means but it is a step in the right direction.
Previously, it seemed that many of the negotiations were happening through the media which, as most know, usually doesn't help negotiations. The FMCS said in a statement that they will not be speaking publicly about the matter.
"Due to the extreme sensitivity of these negotiations ... the agency will refrain from any public comment concerning the future schedule and/or the status of those negotiations until further notice."
As entertaining as it is, as a sports blogger, to hear the negotiations go through the media, those who want football probably realize the best chance of getting a deal done involves little to no public communication on the specifics of the negotiations.
The NFLPA has issued a statement as well indicating their focus remains on getting a fair deal. Spokesman George Atallah also via Twitter that they are "observing a strict media blackout".
This doesn't necessarily mean a deal is closer to getting done. In fact, with no negotiations going on until Friday, it definitely doesn't mean we're closer to a deal. The mediation service can't decide or impose anything, but this is a new strategy and, since it doesn't seem anything else has worked, the optimist in me is excited about seeing the results.