Logan Mankins' camp finally made some public comments Thursday, and they have placed the blame on an easy target: vilified lawyer Jeffrey Kessler.
Reports surfaced this week indicating Mankins has wanted $10 million or unrestricted free agency as compensation for being one of the 10 named plaintiffs in the case against the NFL. Other reports have shot down those rumors, but one thing has been clear throughout the week: Very few things appear to be what they seem, especially with this storyline.
Kessler has represented the players throughout the labor negotiations, and he has proven to be a thorn in the owners' side. He's also not very popular among the players' side, having been removed from the negotiations and mediation sessions at various times.
Mankins' agent, Frank Bauer, made comments that insinuate that Kessler has been the one making these demands for Mankins, and Bauer claimed the Mankins camp hasn't even spoken with Kessler.
"I think it's really unfair what has happened to Logan Mankins in media characterizations that he is making monetary demands or holding up a settlement," Bauer told ESPN.
"Logan Mankins is a young man who was encouraged and solicited into a lawsuit to help the union spearhead a new agreement. Logan's main concern for entering into as a plaintiff was to see if he can become free and help other players have less restrictions. For people to say he has made monetary demands, he hasn't made any such demand. We don't know terms. We haven't talked to Jeff Kessler. There has been no communication, but it's irresponsible to report Logan has made monetary demands.
"Are we disappointed there has been no communication? Hugely. He trusted the union and Kessler to fight for Logan Mankins and the other players."
If Bauer's claims are true, this might just be the most damning bit of evidence against Kessler yet, and that's saying a lot.
Then again, it's worth noting that Bauer has taken about 48 hours to respond to a media request for an interview. In that time, it's possible Mankins has lost the leverage he might have had in the waning moments of the lockout, which could be enough reason for Bauer to deflect the attention elsewhere.
We might never uncover the total truth of this story, but as for right now, Bauer has insisted that Mankins never asked for preferential treatment, and it was Kessler's rogue operation that deserves fault.
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