A day after the judge handling the NFL lockout lawsuit urged the sides to go "back to the table," the players and owners both expressed a willingness to do so. The hitch: Each offered to meet for talks in a setting the other finds unpalatable.
A lawyer representing MVP quarterbacks Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and other players suing the NFL wrote U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson on Thursday to say they’re willing to engage in mediation overseen by her federal court in St. Paul, Minn.
And NFL executive vice president Jeffrey Pash sent a letter Thursday to another lawyer representing players, James Quinn, with a copy going to Nelson, proposing to resume talks in the Washington office of federal mediator George Cohen about 1,000 miles from her courthouse.
Since filing suit in Minnesota on March 11, the players repeatedly have said they are interested in meeting with the league to discuss settling the litigation. And since the lockout began that night, the NFL repeatedly has said it is interested in returning to mediated bargaining.
So Thursday’s letters don’t really represent meaningful progress.
“We are prepared to resume discussions as promptly as possible and to have significant ownership involvement in those discussions,” wrote Pash, the league’s lead labor negotiator.
During Wednesday’s hearing in St. Paul on the players’ request for a preliminary injunction that would lift the lockout, Nelson recommended court-supervised talks, saying such negotiations should take place “not (at) the players’ table, not the league’s table, but a neutral table, if you will.”
Nelson said she would take “a couple of weeks” to rule on the players’ bid for an injunction.
BIG BEN TO WED
Ben Roethlisberger will marry a 26-year-old physician’s assistant whom he said he met during training camp in 2005. They have been friends with ever since, the Steelers quarterback told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Roethlisberger, 29, confirmed his July 23 wedding plans to Ashley Harlan.
The wedding is scheduled a week before the Steelers are to begin training camp.
NO PITY FOR AINGE
Erik Ainge wants no pity. The backup QB for the New York Jets no longer feels sorry for himself. He insists no one else should, either.
Ainge called himself a recovering drug addict with bipolar disorder and a surgically repaired foot, trying to rebuild his life under the roof of his famous uncle Danny in the Boston area.
He recounted a tumultuous journey, marked by years of drug and alcohol abuse.