Yesterday, Judge Susan Nelson sided with the players and granted an injunction to lift the NFL lockout. But don't buy your tickets just yet, because the NFL responded with not one but two legal motions. First they filed a notice of appeal questioning whether Nelson exceeded her jurisdiction, and then they filed a motion for an expedited stay. Peter King explains that there are three possibilities:
She could allow the stay, keeping NFL doors locked until the appeals court hears the case. She could not allow the stay and order the 2011 league year—with free-agency and player trades—to begin immediately, or within days ... which would throw the league into chaos this week as it prepares for the three-day draft to begin Thursday night in New York. Or she could allow the Eighth Circuit to rule on the stay, which one legal expert Monday night said would take between two and seven days. In this case, the appeals court could either order the league year to start immediately or wait until the resolution of the case in appeals.
The players' organization reportedly emailed players last night telling them they are legally entitled to show up at team facilities today, and that teams are not allowed to block their access. But even though this seems like a victory for players, it's all up in the air. Linebacker Ben Leber said, "We're in a 'Wild West' right now. Football is back to business, but guess what? There's no rules. There's a lot of positive to that, but there's also a lot of negatives."
Nelson wrote in her 89-page decision that football is simply too big to fail. “The public ramifications of this dispute exceed the abstract principles of the antitrust laws, ranging from broadcast revenues down to concession sales,” Nelson wrote. “And of course the public interest represented by the fans of professional football...is an intangible interest that weighs against the lockout. In short, this particular employment dispute is far from a purely private argument over compensation." The chicken wing industry thanks her.