In what cannot be described as nothing less than a major blow to the NFL owners, federal court Judge Susan Nelson is reported to have ruled in favor of the NFL players in their anti-trust lawsuit over the 2011 lockout.
Today, Judge Nelson granted the players their motion for a preliminary injunction. Thus, the owners lockout of the players, which was imposed on them back on March 11th, has been lifted.
To put things simply: A judge just stated that what the owners did in locking out the players was wrong.
Now, seemingly everyone and their mother expects the owners to file an immediate stay of the implementation of Nelson's decision. This way, the lockout can continue while the owners file an appeal so the case can go to the Appellate Court. But, if you just saw ESPN legal analyst Roger Cossack talk on SportsCenter this evening, don't expect Nelson to grant that stay.
From Mike Florio at PFT:
If Judge Nelson refuses to grant the stay, the NFL surely would seek a stay from the appeals court.
If neither court gives the league the stay, the doors will be forced open, soon.
In the short term, it’s good news for the fans. If the ruling stands, the season will occur as scheduled. And maybe folks will even give a crap about the draft.
Meanwhile, if the ruling stands the NFL will at some point have to come up with rules for 2010 regarding free agency and the salary cap, if any. Those rules likely would then be challenged by the players as antitrust violations.
The bottom line for us fans is that football is on. The positive news for the players is they have yet another favorable decision (this time from someone other than Judge Doty). This puts the owners at a tremendous disadvantage. They've had their day in court, and they lost. Twice.
No word yet on what this means for free agency or the upcoming NFL Draft, which begins this Thursday.
[UPDATE]: PFT now has a copy of the decision. That decision reads:
“Based on the foregoing, and all the files, records and proceedings herein, IT IS
HEREBY ORDERED that:
“1. The Brady Plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction [Doc. No. 2] is
“2. The Eller Plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction [Doc. No. 58] is
“3. The ‘lockout’ is enjoined.”
Unless the NFL owners can get the U.S. Court of Appeals to issue a stay pending the inevitable appeal, this order is effective immediately. Lockout lifted. Owners lose. Again.