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The NFL lockout will remain in place, pending the full appeal of a ruling by Judge Susan Nelson that would have ended the labour stoppage.The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals has just granted a permanent stay of Judge Nelson’s earlier ruling, pending an appeal before the appeals court.
To recap: The NFL locked out the players. The players sued in Judge Nelson’s court. Judge Nelson (citing the “irreparable harm” being done to the players) ordered that the lockout be lifted, while the case was ongoing.
The NFL appealed that order to the 8th Circuit. A three-judge panel granted a temporary stay of Judge Nelson’s order, allowing the lockout to resume. Today, they made that stay permanent by a 2-1 vote.
On June 3, the Court of Appeals will hold hearing on Judge Nelson’s original order enjoining the lockout. After the hearing, they make a final ruling on the Judge Nelson’s order and the will ultimately decided whether the league can lockout the players.
HOWEVER … the ruling today makes it clear that the appeals court is strongly on the side of the league’s argument. The lockout remains in place because “We have serious doubts that the district court had jurisdiction to enjoin the League’s lockout” and “Our present view is that Judge Nelson’s interpretation is unlikely to prevail.” In other words, Judge Nelson was wrong to lift and the Appeals court will ultimately rule against her.
The makes it sounds like the appeals court is going to overturn Judge Nelson’s ruling that lifted the lockout. That means … no football this fall. As long as the lockout can legally remain in place, the owners have no incentive to give in during negotiations.
Keep in mind, none of this has anything to do with the merits of the player’s anti-trust lawsuit against the NFL. All these rulings are merely about whether Judge Nelson has the right to lift the lockout while the case is ongoing, or whether the lockout should be allowed to continue until all the legal matters are resolved.
Unfortunately, it could take months (or years) for that Brady v. NFL lawsuit to resolve itself naturally. The only hope for fans now is a negotiated settlement … but all the leverage is now on the side of the league’s owners.
There is one small silver lining today however: In a completely separate court room in Minnesota, a judge overseeing mediation between the two sides, ordered the league to submit a new proposal to the players. Presumably one that is not the same as their last proposal, which led to the union’s walkout/decertification.
It’s not much, the fact the league will prepare a new offer could be a hopeful sign for negotiations. Unless they’re emboldened by today’s victory to not give any ground.