View from the Moon: Talks off, but far from over

View from the Moon: Talks off, but far from over
March 11, 2011, 11:06 pm
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Friday, March 11, 2011
Posted 5:07 p.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

Wake me when its over.

That was the reaction of one football fan I suspect more than one - early Friday as time ticked away on the second extension for negotiations between the leagues owners and players. In the end, the sands ran out and darkness settled over the land.

So unfortunately, its not over. And probably wont be for awhile.

The NFLPA demanded disclosure of financials by a deadline this afternoon. NFL owners didnt comply. The union decertified, renouncing its union status with a terse simple statement:

The NFL Players Association announced today it has informed the NFL, NFL clubs and other necessary parties that it has renounced its status as the exclusive collective bargaining representative of the players of the National Football League. The NFLPA will move forward as a professional trade association with the mission of supporting the interests and rights of current and former professional football players.

So the talks are broken off, pretty much as expected by many despite whiffs of optimism. As Bears President Ted Phillips suggested Friday, an agreement will be worked out at some point.

But that point isnt here yet. In a prepared statement at the end of Fridays talks in Washington, D.C., federal mediator George Cohen was closed things down officially:

During this extensive period a wide variety of issues, both economic and work-related, were addressed in a professional, thoughtful manner consistent with what one would expect can take place in a constructive, corrective bargaining setting. Those differences were explored at length. Consensus emerged in a number of them and in others, differences were narrowed and focused.

Regrettably, however, the parties have not achieved an overall agreement nor have they been able to resolve at this time strongly held competing views that separate them on core issues.

In these circumstances, after reviewing all of the events that have transpired, it is the considered opinion of yours trulythat no constructive purpose would be served by requesting the parties to continue mediation at this time.

Now the matter moves from mediation to litigation. The point for the union, such as it is now, is to file an antitrust action in court, which would be expected ultimately to require some disclosure of financials. How much information is problematic, because owners do not want Congress or courts taking actions that could shake the foundations of the sport structure as it now exists, including the exclusivity on incoming players that teams enjoy through the draft

The expectation now becomes that little will really happen until sometime this summer, possibly even September based on some comments. The union did decertify in 1989 and eventually the result was the institution of free agency beginning in 1993.

The players are saying now that theyre not a union. Appeals will be coming. Best guess is that things will slog along with painful slowness until matters approach the precipice beyond which money starts being lost by one or both sides.

And as more than a few fans have said, Wake me when its over.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.