There’s a very good chance you’ve never heard of Jeffrey Kessler, so initially, you may not care that he’s absent from Monday’s mediation meetings between the NFL and NFL Players Association.
But Kessler’s absence, according to NFL Network, might actually carry loads of significance. Kessler, a lawyer, has served as an outside counsel for the NFLPA, and he’s been a thorn in the side of the owners. It’s possible, actually, that Robert Kraft‘s continuous requests to “get the lawyers out of the room” could be geared toward Kessler.
Kessler claimed that Monday’s absence had to do with “other client commitments,” which obviously sounds fishy. It could be possible, though, that Kessler was kept out of the room by the NFLPA, which could have realized this week’s negotiations would run more smoothly with Kessler out of the way.
The two sides have until Friday night to reach a new collective-bargaining agreement, and without one, there could be an extended work stoppage. Over the last few days, the two sides have displayed more of an urgency to reach a new deal, and this could be the latest step in that process.
Kessler also has a wild conflict of interest, according to Pro Football Talk. If there is a work stoppage, Kessler’s law firm could handle the litigation that would arise from the decertification process, which would make him the de facto head of the NFLPA, PFT theorizes. And if that’s the case, Kessler and his firm would make millions upon millions of dollars. But without a work stoppage, Kessler wouldn’t generate as much revenue, and he’ll lose his time in the spotlight.
Also, Kessler’s son, Andrew, is a player agent, who represents a list of clients that includes Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles, Texans quarterback Matt Leinart, Chargers linebacker Shaun Phillips and Seahawks safety Earl Thomas.
While the NFL and NFLPA are in agreement over the implementation of a rookie wage scale, the agents are the only party against the scale, according to multiple league sources. That’s because the league’s most powerful agents rake in upward of $3 million annually in rookie contracts, according to the same sources. With a wage scale in place, that number could be slashed by about two-thirds.
So, by helping the NFLPA negotiate for a wage scale, PFT points out, Jeffrey Kessler could be hurting his son’s revenue.
Kessler’s absence is certainly meaningful, and if he’s not there again this week, it should be perceived that the two sides know they’ve got a better chance to reach a new CBA without him in the room.