Initially I wasn't a fan of Judge Nelson but in recent days she's won over my heart. Though I'm not ready to propose, she certainly falls somewhere between someone who I should fear and respect. She is certainly someone the NFLPA should fear.
Since this ridiculous case fell into her lap, she's been in charge from the second both sides walked into her court. And in the early stages she belittled both of them by being prepared in her questioning and with her stern tone to the lawyers in charge of this stage of the process. Secondly, she's not been intimidated by the enormous egos of the men who are unwilling to divide $9 billion in revenues.
Thus with her appointment of U.S. Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan, who is Nelson's yes man, she has instructed him to begin the mediation process on Thursday with representatives from both the Owners and Players.
Nelson has put her self in this position to save the sport for the fans and should be able to direct both sides to a reasonable deal – or at least we can hope she can. Then once that's done she should run for Governor in Minnesota and maybe she can also save the Vikings from bolting to Los Angeles.
It's ironic that the Billionaire Boys Club and the Selfish Players Club are going to be told what to do by a female. And until a few weeks ago, nobody even knew who she was. But there is NO doubt that she's in charge.
With two weeks to go before the start of the 2011 NFL Draft, when I firmly believe this deal has to get done, she might very well become a household name. And should she oversee a deal, I think every NFL fan should send her a letter of thanks for putting the men in their places.
Regardless of her success or failure in her upcoming rulings, this stalemate has left a black eye on the NFL and both sides should be embarrassed for their recent behavior. The Owners, to their credit, have tried to offer up a fair deal. However, this go around, the players felt that the Courts were a better place to solve their dispute.
Now the Players Union has their wish to rekindle talks in Minnesota. Now they don't have to subscribe to Federal Mediation in Washington D.C. under George Cohen and that's exactly what they always wanted when talks began in Dallas prior to the Super Bowl.
But the drama is far from over. And it'll be interesting to see if the Players EVER had intent to get a deal done. But my guess is that they won't get anything as good as the Owners final deal last month. This just goes to show you that men like Union Director DeMaurice Smith, who has made one blunder after another in this process, and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who has tried in vein to reach a common sense deal, don't belong at the Bargaining Table this time around.
For Smith and Goodell, there's just too much bad blood and history for either man to lead their disciples at the bargaining table. If I were Judge Nelson, I'd order both men as far away from the negotiating sessions as possible and let some new blood try to break the gridlock.
But that might not be enough. And if I were Judge Nelson, I'd make it painfully clear, including using the contempt card if both sides refuse to start negotiating in good faith, that nobody is leaving Minneapolis until a deal gets done.
The clock is ticking and everyone associated with the NFL is hereby put on notice. But the man with the hottest seat rests under the tailbone of one DeMaurice Smith. He has everything to lose should his final bargaining chip backfire.
2. KC Draft Needs? - I'm really struggling with the direction that Kansas City Chiefs General Manager Scott Pioli should go in a couple of weeks with the upcoming NFL Draft. Last year his plan was to draft athletic players who possessed speed, NFL IQ and were leaders among their college programs.
Pioli has some big shoes to fill after his 2010 NFL draft.
Granted the Chiefs and every other NFL team have had the luxury of knowing that a Lockout was inevitable, it still puts Pioli's skill as a talent evaluator on full display.
And even further Pioli is going to be hampered by the fact he won't be able to make any player trades to add some much needed draft picks either in 2011 or 2012. And should the Chiefs continue their pursuit of Cardinals Wide Receiver Larry Fitzgerald, that deal would be put on hold for months.
When Pioli arrived two years ago he relied on the personnel staff and scouts led by Carl Peterson. Last season it was all his guys and you could clearly see the difference between the drafts in 2009 and 2010.
And I'm hoping that Pioli is just as daft this year in choosing young talent because I think one more solid April and Pioli can essentially rebuild the Chiefs core into a team that in 2012 would be a favorite to win the division for the conceivable future.
3. Draft Plans? - There is no doubt that the upcoming NFL draft will lose a bit of it's flair and luster with the lockout. And as I've already mentioned it's really hard to predict what the Chiefs or any other team might be able to get done in a few weeks.
Where will you be Draft weekend?
So we should all pretend that the labor mess isn't relevant and in the coming weeks Mock Drafts should be our guide and gospel. The Chiefs are the defending AFC West Champs and in large part because of the draft haul they uncovered a year ago.
So we should all attend the Chiefs Draft Party at Arrowhead this year or fill your local pubs with your draft sheets and get excited.
4. Josh Selby Stay or Go? - Being a diehard Kansas Basketball fan it's very hard to see why underachieving Guard Josh Selby is even remotely considering a jump to the NBA after only season in Lawrence. First with the NBA rumored to be canceling its Summer League in Las Vegas, and with a labor situation worse than what currently resides in the NFL, plus the fact that Selby was never as good as his initial game against USC last December, he'd be making a big mistake not coming back to Kansas for his Sophomore season.
Not much substance behind the hype of Josh Selby.
But to me the most glaring item of the Selby era at Kansas was despite the talent that Selby possesses, he could NOT beat out Guard Brady Morningstar as one of the Jayhawks five starters.
I guess Selby could go overseas and clank a few three pointers all the while earning a few bucks until the NBA settles their labor woes. But I think that he owes the Jayhawk program a debt of gratitude for sticking with him during his early season suspension, his lazy work ethic and his inconsistent play for most of his eligibility.
What isn't in dispute is the fact that Selby will be taken at the bottom end of the first round in late June. And I think that lofty spot is based solely on the fact he played under Self. If not as bad as he played this season, I don't think he'd even be under consideration for the first round.
I don't know who is programming Selby's mind these days but whomever is in charge of it, should insist he dedicate himself one more season to Kansas. And if does that, he'll be a certain lottery pick in June of 2012.
5. Kyle Davies Length in the Rotation? - I have the utmost respect for Royals General Manager Dayton Moore. But I can't see why he continues to garner a spot in the starting rotation - even worse of the five members in that rotation, he's the highest paid at $3.2 million.
Royals starter Kyle Davies nearly blew a five run lead in the fifth inning on Wednesday at Minnesota.
The problem is that the Royals aren't going to rush their plethora of pitching riches in the minor leagues and promote them to the mother ship before they're good and ready. And the man likely to replace Davies in the starting rotation is current Omaha Storm Chaser pitcher Mike Montgomery.
Granted he's been anything but solid in a pair of appearances for Omaha but he's still a better option than throwing out Davies every five days.
And now with the Royals scrapping the debut of Vin Mazzaro into the rotation as the teams fifth starter, Moore has to walk a fine line. As of this writing Sean O'Sullivan and his 11 plus ERA will get a shot next week to supplant not only Mazzaro but Davies as one of the teams five starters.
Right now the Royals are playing solid baseball. They have a strong young bullpen that has shown signs of domination provided rookies Aaron Crow (who could jump into a starters role), Tim Collins and Jeremy Jeffress can continue to set the table for closer Joakim Soria.
Either way the Royals are exceeding expectations and if the early stages of the 2011 season are any indication of the way the division might stand at the All Star break, the Royals need to make sure they can put five dependable starters on the diamond because they have the bullpen to keep them in most games come the seventh, eighth or ninth innings.
If not, they might waste a big opportunity to gain even more momentum before the hyped kids like Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer, Clint Robinson and Montgomery arrive in May, June, July or August for good.
WARPAINT ILLUSTRATED MESSAGE BOARDS:
Did DeMaurice Smith make the right move taking the players to court?
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