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“What this mediation is about, what the dispute is about, is the structure of the game and the relationship between the rookies, the active players, the retirees, with each other and the league,” Hausfeld said. “Those are fundamental.”

Nelson ordered the talks, which lasted 13 hours over two days last week.

Players including MVP quarterbacks Tom Brady and Peyton Manning filed the request for the injunction along with the antitrust claim. The lawsuit has been combined with two other similar claims from retirees, former players and rookies-to-be, with Eller the lead plaintiff in that group.

The prospects of Nelson’s ruling giving one side leverage could influence the mediation, Hausfeld said.

“I hope everyone in the room, owners, active players, rookie representatives and retiree representatives understand that this is a situation that not only involves their interests but the interests of many fans and other people who depend upon the game being played,” Hausfeld said. “And if everyone seriously approaches the issues with the manner in which the court has, then hopefully progress can be made.”

Any decision Nelson makes, Hausfeld said, would certainly be appealed to the federal appellate court.

That means more time for legal maneuvering, further jeopardizing the 2011 NFL season.

“There’s no question that any ruling Judge Nelson makes will be a first step,” he said. “It will be taken on appeal.”