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Posted at 4:20 PM ET, 02/17/2011

George Cohen, NFL-NFLPA mediator, draws praise

By Cindy Boren

Who is George Cohen, who now will act as mediator in talks between the NFL and NFL Players Association?

Cohen is director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service and, with labor issues looming across the world of sports, he may become a household name. He was profiled by Sports Business Journal (via Liz Mullen) last March.

To say that Cohen, one of the most respected labor lawyers in the country, is no stranger to sports is a gross understatement. In his 40 or so years with Washington, D.C., law firm Bredhoff & Kaiser, he worked for the MLB Players Association and the National Basketball Players Association. Most recently he was a member of the NHL Players' Association advisory board, a position he resigned before President Obama appointed him to head the federal mediation service.
He played a major role in the history of sports labor when he represented the MLBPA before U.S. District Judge Sonia Sotomayor, now a Supreme Court justice. "He is the lawyer who argued before Judge Sotomayor the day she issued the injunction that ended the baseball strike of 1995," said MLBPA Executive Director Michael Weiner.

The FMCS is an independent agency created in 1947 to promote labor-management peace and offers mediation, arbitration and other resolution services. Mediation is voluntary, much like marriage counseling.

Sources on both sides of labor issues praised Cohen to SBJ. "Among my top five all-time labor practitioners, George Cohen would be on the list," said Rob Manfred, baseball's executive vice-president of labor relations.

"He is a wonderful person," Buzz Hargrove, who served with Cohen on the NHLPA's advisory board, told SBJ. "He has exceptional people skills. ... He's candid, affable, with a good sense of humor."

By Cindy Boren  | February 17, 2011; 4:20 PM ET
Categories:  NFL  
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