April 27, 2011

How To Solve The NFL Labor Dispute: "Paper Slip Mediation"

     After a month and a half of lockout time, the NFL and the Players Association haven't come close to designing a new CBA.  It's been a half-hearted effort on both sides.  They are willing to compromise, but not so much that they really are giving up anything.  Compromise has to happen but it looks like it needs to be forced.  That's why Judge Nelson should break out what I call "Paper Slip Mediation".  Here's how it works:

     First, a list of the original requests from each side must be compiled.  Then, every issue the two parties are arguing on would be written on a slip of paper and placed in a hat.  (Or football helmet, if you prefer.)  The sides would take turns picking a paper slip out of the hat/helmet (without peeking, of course) until all of them were gone.  Whatever's written on a side's paper slips are the rules they have the power to set, and they can choose anything between the original request of the players and the original request of the owners.

     Here's where it gets interesting.  The parties would be allowed to trade slips, or they could agree to meet halfway on one slip from each side, give them back to the mediator, and effectively cancel them out.  Say DeMaurice Smith picked "Revenue Split" and Jeff Pash picked "Season Length".  If the NFLPA is more worried more about an 18-game season than the extra billion going to the owners, the players can offer to trade their "Revenue Split" for the owners' "Season Length".  If neither side wants to risk losing one of those issues completely, they can agree on a 17-game season and a 50% revenue split, and give the two paper slips back to the judge.  Maybe Smith would package "Revenue Split" with "Restricted Free Agency" in order to get "Season Length".  The possibilities are endless.  Once the owners and the NFLPA are finished trading/compromising, the CBA is created based on what was agreed upon in mediation.

     This method would get both sides more focused on the actual issues rather than trying to gain power over each other, win the court of public opinion, or win in actual court.  Plus, it would be really fun to see Adam Schefter tell us about how the owners really wanted "Rookie Wage Scale" but weren't willing to give up "Healthcare for Retired Players" to get it.

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