2011 NFL Lockout Is OVER: Judge Nelson Denies NFL Stay Request, Legally Ending Lockout

SB Nation's partners and friends at National Football Post are reporting that federal court Judge Susan Nelson has denied the NFL their motion to stay her decision from this past Monday. The denial of the stay effectively and, more importantly, legally ends the 2011 lockout imposed by the owners on the players.

From Andrew Brandt at National Football Post:

Late Wednesday evening on the eve of the 2011 NFL Draft, Judge Susan Nelson entered an order denying the NFL's motion to stay the injunction pending appeal to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, meaning as per her Court order, the lockout is lifted without delay, or so the Players think (the Owners may think differently).

Let's be blunt in our assessment here. What this means now, beyond all doubt, is that LEGALLY the lockout has ended. And should owners (like, say, Jim Irsay) fail to begin what Judge Nelson refers to as 'business as usual,' (i.e., start the new league year), then the owners are possibly in contempt.

It should be noted that if owners fail to allow players access to team facilities, or that if they fail to launch free agency, that would constitute a violation of a federal court order. As Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk so accurately puts it, the judge's decision is now quite clear.

The NFL should be conducting business as usual. The league year should begin now. Free agency should begin now. The lockout is over, and that is that.

And by requiring the NFL to end the lockout, Judge Nelson necessarily has compelled the league to conduct business as usual.  Teams aren’t required to enter into contracts with players, but the league is required to launch free agency.

Thus, the league can comply with Judge Nelson’s orders only by ending the lockout, and everything that goes along with it.

Basically, the league should be conducting business as usual.  And if anything unusual happens, it will be evidence that the league is defying Judge Nelson’s order.

Should the league fail to begin its business, hoping instead that the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals will grant them the stay they so desperately want, it's very possible the league could be held in contempt of court. Florio, a former lawyer for many years, makes it very clear:

Earlier tonight, I explained that the league’s flirtation with a finding of contempt of court has intensified in the wake of Judge Susan Nelson’s order denying the NFL’s request for a stay of the ruling lifting the lockout.  After reading the full text of her latest written opinion, I need to revise that.

It’s no longer flirtation.  It’s beyond flirtation.  It’s beyond courtship.  We’re convinced that, if the league doesn’t open for business immediately, the league will be in contempt of court.

In fact, there’s a good argument to be made that the league already is.

This recent decision by Judge Nelson, whose Monday decision was an overwhelming victory for the NFL players, is a major setback for the owners and their claims. This is now the third time the NFL owners have been blown out of the water in court over labor-related issues. The first was federal court Judge Doty shutting down their lockout insurance cash.

On all the legal merits, the owners have been pounded into the turf, and what they are hoping for now is a circuit court will overturn all these decisions for political reasons, not legal ones. Again, the whole reason NFL people were happy that Judge Susan Nelson was assigned to the Brady V. NFL case was because she wasn't Judge Doty, a man who had repeatedly sided with the former-Players Union.

Now, two federal court judges have pretty thoroughly slapped down all the owners' arguments.

If normal, rational people were owning teams in this league, all these decisions would be enough to get them back to the bargaining table and negotiating a new CBA with the players similar to the one they stupidly opted out of in 2008. But no, Jerry Richardson and his misfit troupe of idiots run the show here, and the results will be more courtrooms, more posturing, and more setbacks to the game of football.

Bottom line here is the owners lost, AGAIN! The lockout is, in fact, OVER! Can we get on with friggin football already, you fat, greedy bastards!

I would seriously love to know what Jim Irsay personally feels about all this. I'd lose all respect for him and this franchise if he were 'in bed,' so to speak, with the ideas expressed by Richardson, Jerry Jones, and the other idiots that have screwed this whole thing up.

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