MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MAY 17: Linebacker Mike Vrabel (L) of the Kansas City Chiefs returns from lunch with NFL players' lawyers Barbara P. Berens, James Quinn and Jeffrey Kessler for court ordered mediation at the U.S. Courthouse on May 17, 2011 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. As the NFL lockout remains in place mediation was ordered after a hearing on an antitrust lawsuit filed by NFL players against the NFL owners after labor talks between the two broke down in March. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
For a good while, Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com has been railing on NFLPA* lawyers Jeff Kessler and James Quinn as being a counter productive and devisive force in the labor talks, and it looks like he hit the nail on the head with that thought. Mike Freeman of CBS Sports wrote an open letter to NFLPA* director DeMaurice Smith to drop the lawyers so that a settlement can be reached.
"[T]hey've gone too far [Kessler and Quinn]," Freeman writes. "Like owners have previously, the NFLPA lawyers, I'm told, have been recently picking stupid fights over petty technical issues and arguing over who is going to pay for retiree benefits when the league has offered a fair 50-50 split. All of these arguments have delayed the negotiating process. Owners believe - and I think they're correct - the two men want to delay a settlement as long as possible so they can propel the Brady antitrust lawsuit to the brink."
Also according to Freeman, in the past the late Gene Upshaw used to reel in the lawyers when a deal was close, to prevent them from blowing it up. Kessler has apparently been on the anti-trust NFL draft angle for a long, long time. According to Florio, it looks like Kessler and Quinn are wanted to make a drastic statement.
The owners believe that Jeffrey Kessler and Jim Quinn want to derail the settlement process, sacrifice a full season, pursue a mammoth antitrust verdict, which when trebled (fancy talk for tripled) could exceed $12 billion, and then leverage that verdict into partial ownership of the league itself.
Talks continue today, without major decision makers. Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith aren't expected to return until Thursday. Most in the media expect that if a deal will come, it will come within the next three weeks. Most still believe the loss of a single week of preseason will be too much of a financial loss for either side to risk.
Maybe I'm ignorant to lawyering, but can't the NFLPA* just be like "Hey, Kessler and Quinn... cut it out."