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Did both sides really like the final agreement? Or was it better than nothing?
I think both sides felt it was a great agreement. DeMaurice Smith, he was just the sharpest tack. He did a real great job for the players. It was a really tough job because you got how many teams, how many players, how many retirees. It really rolls into the thousands that he was representing. His job was in many respects harder than Roger Goodell’s because he had so many constituents he had to keep happy.
These were tough issues to get over. The one benefit about mediation is that you are not forcing an agreement down their throats, and that builds momentum. When you start with the small agreements, agreeing on one point often leads to another agreement and then the difficult and larger agreements later on.
Did you ever think the whole thing was going to collapse into failure?
Many, many times. That’s when it’s really important for a mediator to not despair. If I don’t settle something, I just don’t truck it up to “Well, we tried our best” and go onto the next case. I really have sleepless nights thinking about how come we didn’t settle. What else I could have done. You have to be patient and resilient and keep on going back to the table.
How did the two sides react when you brought up curling?
They both looked at me like I was crazy.
Thomas Lee • 612-673-4113