NFL Lockout 2011: Report Says Sides Have 'Reached Agreement'

-- See our previous NFL Lockout 2011 StoryStream for news on what has happened in the lockout up to this point. -- See SB Nation New York's NFL Lockout section for full coverage of the labor dispute.

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2011 NFL Lockout: Player Reps Expected To Vote Monday

ESPN is reporting this morning that owners and players "reached agreement on the remaining points needed in their 10-year labor deal" and that the majority vote needed by players to ratify the 10-year collective bargaining agreement is considered "a formality."

If ESPN's Adam Schefter is right player reps will vote Monday to recommend accepting the agreement, effectively ending the lockout. Players from some teams could then start reporting to team facilities on Wednesday and full-fledged free agency could begin on Saturday.

A few days ago Andrew Brandt of the National Football Post laid out the major terms of the new CBA. These still hold, so if you really want to know all the nitty-gritty give this a read.

NFP is also reporting this morning that it expects to see some NFL training camps open by Wednesday, Aug. 3.

Hooray! We are finally moving toward being able to talk about real football stuff -- free-agent signings, practice reports, etc., -- instead of all this legal mumbo jumbo. It's about time.

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NFL Lockout 2011: Still Waiting For A Resolution

Negotiations between players and owners to end the 2011 NFL Lockout, which some thought might be concluded Friday, will continue into next week.

The league and players issued a joint statement on Friday.

The discussions this week have been constructive and progress has been made on a wide range of issues. Our legal and financial teams will continue to work through the weekend. We will continue to respect the confidentiality orders of Chief Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan and will therefore refrain from commenting on specific issues or aspects of the negotiations. We will provide additional information as developments in this process continue.

The primary stumbling block, per the Boston Herald, is that players want changes to practices and offseason workout rules in order to enhance player safety.

Less than a day after breathless media reports had a deal all but done, the two sides were wrangling unproductively over what the players see as “culture of the game issues” crucial to achieving a settlement while the owners see merely as “workplace rules.”

What the players seek is a reduction in contact drills and full-pad practices, a reduction in offseason workouts, and other changes designed to increase player safety and make violations of rules already in place enforceable. The players’ biggest concerns are coaches violating practice and workout rules already in place that are designed to protect their safety.

It seems the money issues have been settled. Let’s hope this bit of wrangling does not hold up a deal for long.

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NFL Lockout 2011: Could A Deal Get Done Today?

The 2011 NFL Lockout has apparently reached the Chris Berman touchdown call stage. With the rookie wage scale out of the way, negotiations between players and owners are apparently close enough that some believe a deal could be announced today.

So, back to ESPN’s Berman. This means we are in the “he … could … go … all … the … way” stage of the negotiations. Sounds like we are somewhere around “all”, with the question being whether something will happen that will mess up something that seems very close to being a sure thing at this point.

As Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio warned this morning:

The cork remains in the bottle of Dom Perignon because there’s no deal until there’s a deal. And every time the owners think a deal is inevitable, they tend to harden their position on the remaining issues, under the mistaken impression that the players will cave.

Via Twitter, Albert Breer of NFL Network listed some of the remaining issues that could provide stumbling blocks.

So, no deal yet. Finally, though, real light at the end of a long, dark tunnel.

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July 17th? July 21st? Lockout Rumors Truly Exhausting

Whether it is ESPN reporting the lockout should be coming to an end by July 21st or Pro Football Talk coming up with an even earlier date of July 17th, at this point nobody cares to hear it unless it is a true, final announcement of a deal. Yes, I do expect something to get done within in the next week or so and it couldn't get done a moment too soon, considering --

So we can hold off with all the statements from the Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, and Tom Brady about being ready to get a deal done...we don't want to hear it, we want to see it.

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NFL Lockout 2011: Players Say 'Time To Get This Deal Done'

NFL players and league officials traded some pointed words Wednesday, sounding little like sides who are close to an agreement to end the ongoing 2011 NFL Lockout.

In a statement released to The Associated Press via the NFL Players Association, New England's Brady, Indianapolis' Manning and New Orleans' Brees said: "We believe the overall proposal made by the players is fair for both sides and it is time to get this deal done."

They continued: "This is the time of year we as players turn our attention to the game on the field. We hope the owners feel the same way."

In response, the NFL issued a statement saying: "We share the view that now is the time to reach an agreement so we can all get back to football and a full 2011 season. We are working hard with the players' negotiating team every day to complete an agreement as soon as possible."

I thought we were past all this public posturing and into the serious nitty-gritty of getting a deal done within the next few days so that training camps could open at least close to on time. This nonsense doesn't help anything.

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NFL Lockout 2011: Pittsburgh's James Harrison Blasts Roger Goodell

"Crook," "devil," stupid," "puppet" and "dictator" were among the things Pittsburgh's James Harrison called NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in an interview published in Men's Journal. The interview was reported on by ESPN.

I guess you can certainly say Harrison, the Steelers linebacker fined several times last season by the NFL for hits that were deemed illegal, knows how to vent his frustrations. Here is one of Harrison's quotes:

"If that man was on fire and I had to piss to put him out, I wouldn’t do it. I hate him and will never respect him."

Harrison did not stop at Goodell. He also ripped Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and running back Rashard Mendenhall. On the interceptions thrown by Roethlisberger in last season's Super Bowl:

"Hey, at least throw a pick on their side of the field instead of asking the D to bail you out again. Or hand the ball off and stop trying to act like Peyton Manning. You ain’t that and you know it, man; you just get paid like he does."

You have to wonder if the bitter Harrison is talking himself into being let go by Pittsburgh, regardless of how good he is. The criticisms of the commissioner are one thing, but those are personal. Ripping the franchise quarterback is another, and that is unlikely to play well with the organization.

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NFL Lockout 2011: Could July 21st Be The Day?

ESPN reported today that "there is a growing belief" that July 21 could be the day the 2011 NFL Lockout ends. League meetings are scheduled to be held that day, and ESPN reported that there is a belief there could be a deal in place toi be ratified at those meetings.

ESPN also reported that a handshake deal could be in place within seven to 10 days. A July 21 deal would seem like that would give teams plenty of time to open camps, even with a slight delay in the currently scheduled openings (around July 30 for most teams) and start the preseason schedule on time.

Per ESPN, here are some of the key dates in the Transition Rules that would govern the league if an agreement is ratified on the 21st:

  • Undrafted free agents could be signed beginning July 25.
  • Free agency -- and the league year -- would begin July 28.
  • Rosters would be set (at 90 players) on Aug. 2.

Depending on who you believe, negotiations have reached the 5, 10 or 15-yard line. Let's just hope nobody throws an Eli Manning left-handed pass, and that both sides punch this in.

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NFL Lockout Legal, Rules Eighth Circuit Court

The U.S. Eighth Circuit Court Of Appeals has handed the NFL a victory, throwing out a lower court ruling and declaring that the NFL Lockout is legal.

“We conclude that the injunction did not conform to the provisions of the Norris-LaGuardia Act … and we therefore vacate the district court’s order,” the decision stated, adding: "The text of the Norris-LaGuardia Act and the cases interpreting the term “labor dispute” does not require the present existence of a union to establish a labor dispute."

U.S. District Court Judge Susan Nelson had granted the players an injunction halting the lockout.

Negotiations toward a new collective bargaining agreement have been ongoing, including a 12-hour session Thursday. The question now is what this ruling will do to those negotations.

Via Twitter, here are some of the immediate reactions:

This is a narrow decision, gives NFL an immediate victory, but still leaves antitrust risk intact — a perfect push to both sides to settle. — Judy Battista, New York Times

I don’t think Goodell will allow owners to step on players’ throats w/8th Circ ruling. He has to know how dangerous that’d be. — Peter King, SI.com

Dominoes … Rookies/UFAs need to be ruled on … Nelson gets 1st crack … Nelson likely to rule for players … That ruling = Total chaos. — Albert Breer, NFL Network

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New York State Attorney General Wades Into NFL Lockout

With three NFL teams calling New York home (yes, we’re counting the Buffalo Bills) I guess it was just a matter of time before state politicians got involved in the NFL Lockout. New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman has now done just that, launching an inquiry into whether the lockout violates the state’s antitrust law.

“The expected blow to the state’s economy will be tremendous,” the head of Schneiderman’s antitrust bureau said in a letter this week alerting NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to the probe.

“Many New York public and private institutions depend heavily on the NFL training camp and regular season games to generate revenue,” Assistant Attorney General Richard L. Schwartz told Goodell. Hotels, restaurants, retailers, transportation systems and thousands of New Yorkers working at concession stands, parking lots and stadiums will suffer," he wrote.

The New York Jets have already cancelled training camp at SUNY Cortland and will stay in New Jersey once the lockout ends. The Bills usually train at St. John Fisher College in suburban Rochester, and the Giants at UAlbany. Neither of those teams have yet made a determination on where training camp will be held, but will likely have to do so around July 15.

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NFL Lockout 2011: What They're Saying As Optimism Fades

NFL owners and players had sought to at least have the framework of a new collective bargaining agreement in place by the Fourth of July. But, as we begin that holiday weekend there seems to be nothing to celebrate on the NFL labor front. A 15-hour negotiating session Thursday produced more questions than answers, and while the sides are reportedly back at the table today the recent optimism seems to be fading.

Here is a look at some of what is being about the NFL Lockout from a variety of reliable sources around the Inter-Google.

N.F.L. Labor Deal Is Likely to Be Weeks Away - NYTimes.com

The N.F.L. had hoped to have at least an agreement in principle in place around the Fourth of July, but three people who have been briefed on the negotiations said that although a resolution remained possible within the next 10 days, it was more likely that negotiations would drag on past that time.

One person said that little progress on the critical issues that divide the sides had been made earlier this week, when lawyers and staff members negotiated without owners and players in attendance, and another said he still believed it was possible that games would be missed and that it would require a breakthrough for a deal to be completed in the next couple of weeks.

Sources: Optimism waning, latest NFL talks trending 'backwards' - ESPN

Optimism is waning after four consecutive days of negotiations between NFL owners and players and was described as trending "backwards," player sources told ESPN.

Player sources said owners have reneged on a simplified formula that would have given players 48 percent of all revenue.

Player sources reaffirmed a setback in talks occurred when owners last week went "retro" on the formula that will divide the estimated $9.3 billion in annual revenue.

Sources: 'Bizarre' twists stifle NFL labor talks - NFL - Yahoo! Sports

"It’s just bizarre right now," one source on the players’ side said Thursday. "Two weeks ago, I was optimistic. I didn’t realize that we weren’t even close to close. It’s disheartening."

I’ve talked to key figures from both camps, and others who are more neutral while familiar with the state of negotiations, and I’m still trying to figure out how what one source described as a verbal handshake between players and owners regarding a total-revenue formula earlier this month has degenerated into a montage of mutual finger-pointing.

None of this is good news. If this drags on much longer training camps will undoubtedly be delayed, and if that happens there is no telling how much football will be missed.

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NFL Lockout 2011: Optimism Abounds, But Can The Two Sides Seal The Deal?

On the heels of Tuesday's NFL owners' meetings in Chicago there has been lots of positive talk about NFL owners and players reaching a new collective bargaining agreement within 2-3 weeks, ending the ongoing NFL Lockout and allowing an on-time start to the 2011 NFL regular season.

The two sides will reportedly meet for another negotiating session Wednesday and Thursday in Boston. Most reports have indicated that progress has been made during the not-so-secret sessions held the past few weeks. With ownership apparently onboard with the direction those negotiations are taking, let's hope the two sides are able to capitalize on that momentum and move closer to a deal during their meetings in Boston.

"We’ve got a lot of work to do and we’ve got to do it right.  The agreement that we’re focusing on and negotiating has got to address several issues.  Those issues are complex and it needs to be done in a way that is fair to the players, fair to the clubs, and most importantly allows us to continue to have that full 2011 football season," said NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in a statement following Tuesday's meeting. "That’s what we want, that’s what the fans want, they want football and it’s our job to try to make that happen."

What are the parameters of the deal being worked on? ESPN has a point-by-point breakdown of the details that have emerged thus far, including a nearly 50-50 revenue split between owners and players.

Fans, in all honesty, probably don't care about any of the particulars. They just want to know one thing. Will the NFL season start on time or won't it?

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NFL Lockout 2011: Owners' Meetings Crucial To New Deal

Various reports I came across this morning mentioned that the NFL Lockout passed the 100-day mark over the weekend. Truth is, though, that while this is technically the longest work stoppage in NFL history, the important stuff -- training camp, the preseason and the regular season -- have not yet been affected.

If a new collective bargaining agreement is not reached soon, however, that will change. The owners meet in Chicago this week, beginning Tuesday, and those meetings will be critical in the effort to get deal done in time to get an on-time start to the 2011 season, or save the season altogether.

From the Philadelphia Inquirer:

... the league and its players went into this process without any real urgency to get a deal done. March, April, May, and June were always disposable. Lo and behold, they have been disposed of.

Now July is knocking. July was not, and is not, disposable.

This week, NFL owners will gather in Chicago to harrumph over whatever progress has been made in the "secret" (even though everyone knew where and when they occurred) negotiations between Goodell and a handful of owners on one side and DeMaurice Smith and a small group of players on the other. What happens in Chicago on Tuesday and Wednesday could well determine whether this thing ends without serious bloodshed or things get really ugly.

The question about the owners' meetings Tuesday and Wednesday is whether this group of rich, egotistical men used to getting what they want can come to an agreement on exactly what it is that they want out of this agreement with the players. There have been recent reports that several of the owners are not happy with the direction in which negotiations have been going.

For me, the fact that we are this late in the process and the owners as a group are still apparently squabbling over exactly how much they want to squeeze out of the players is an amazing thing. What, exactly, they were hoping to accomplish should have been settled long ago.

CBS Sports reported this morning that if the owners are able to come to an agreement while they meet Tuesday and Wednesday, New York Giants co-owner John Mara and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft will be the ones who bring them together.

CBS referred to Mara and Kraft as "the cool heads in a chemically imbalanced owner mix of testosterone, absurdly large egos and billable hours." One player close to the negotiations told CBS the pair are the "key to a new deal."

Most reports have indicated that a deal, or at least the framework of a deal that will allow the league to move forward, must get done by early July in order for the league to open training camps on time.

That makes sense because teams like the New York Giants and New York Jets, who generally hold training camp away from their regular-season facilities, need to notify officials at those facilities of their plans. Also, teams need an opportunity to sign free agents, make trades and medically evaluate players returning from injuries prior to the opening of training camps. You would think at least a two- to three-week window is needed for those things.

So, it is pretty apparent that we have reached crunch time.

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NFL Lockout 2011: Optimism For Settlement Growing

Optimism is apparently growing that NFL owners and players could reach an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement within the next two to three weeks. The Washington Post was the first to report that owners have been told to prepare for the possibility of a meeting scheduled for next Tuesday in Chicago lasting all night.

It has been widely speculated that the sides need to have an agreement in place by July 4 in order to ensure that training camps, and thus the preseason, will start on time. Teams like the New York Giants and New York Jets, who train away from their regular-season homes, face pressure to let officials at their usual training camp sites know what their plans are. Delays in the start of training camp could cause the teams to have to train at their regular-season facilities.

At least 24 of the league's 32 owners will have to ratify any agreement reached.

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Roger Goodell Acknowledges Fans' Unrest over Labor Dispute

Maybe, just maybe, frustrated NFL fans can have an impact on ending the NFL Lockout and getting the players and owners to reach a collective bargaining agreement in time for their to be an uninterrupted 2011 NFL season.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell Wednesday acknowledged that the league is feeling the unhappiness of the fan base.

“Clearly it has had an impact on the fans,” Goodell said as the owners completed their spring meetings. "We see it in various metrics. There’s been a noticeable change, TV ratings were down on the draft roughly 4 million people. NFL.com traffic (is down), we see that. …

“Fans want certainty,” Goodell added. “We can’t underestimate that the fans are going through challenges just in the general economy.”

Fans, of course, cannot sit at the negotiating table. They cannot force the players and owners to compromise. They can, however, not watch NFL programming. Not buy NFL merchandise. Not visit the league’s website. The only thing fans can really do, aside from visiting their favorite SB Nation sites to commiserate, is hit NFL franchises in the wallet — which is the only message that might have a real impact.

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NFL Lockout 2011: Optimistic John Mara Says 'There Is A Deal To Be Made'

Earlier today we ran story detailing optimistic statements from both the New York Giants and New York Jets regarding the probability of the 2011 NFL season starting on time. Thursday afternoon, Giants co-owner John Mara echoed those sentiments during an appearance on the Mike Lupica Show on ESPN Radio 1050 AM in New York.

"We’re still in May, and we still have some time to do this … but in the meantime we’ve got players out there that do not have a team, we have OTAs and mini-camps that should be going on. We should be getting ready to play a football season.

"I’m still very confident that there will be a full season because we do have time and I know there’s a willingness on our part to site down and get a deal done. We’ve got to get the same willingness out of the players to sit down and do that."

Mara also said "There is a deal there to be made, a deal that would be fair to both sides and allow the game to continue to grow. We just have to sit down and get to it."

— Read more of the interview at Big Blue View

-- Mara also addressed the lockout Thursday in an essay he wrote for Giants.com

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Poll: More Fans Blame Owners Than Players For NFL Lockout

A new national poll by Suffolk University has found that 32 percent of respondents blame the owners for the current NFL Lockout, while just 19 percent put responsibility on the players.

The poll surveyed 1,070 people. There were 30 percent of respondents who said they were undecided.

Here are some other findings from the poll:

- Thirty-four percent of those asked said they would return to watching games with the same enthusiasm when play begins, even if games are lost.
- Eighteen percent said they would have less enthusiasm for the NFL is games are lost to the work stoppage.
- Only six percent of respondents said they would stop watching the NFL completely.

In truth, it is difficult to tell exactly how fans will react if and when games actually are lost. Right now that is a hypothetical question. The lockout, of course, will remain in place while the NFL’s current appeal is heard in the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.

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NFL Lockout 2011: Progress? NFL, Players Can't Agree On An Answer

Progress or no progress? I would assume that the NFL and the players can agree that there were, indeed, court-ordered mediated talks between the two sides in the NFL labor dispute over the past couple of days.

What they can’t agree on is whether or not anything got accomplished.

The NFL says yes. Here is NFL lead negotiator Jeff Pash:

“We had a good discussion today,” Pash told ESPN. “I’ve said it many times the only way we’re going to get this accomplished is face-to-face dialogue and really digging into the issues and I think we had a good step in that direction today. And I hope that we’ll continue, confident it’s going to continue and we’ll be back early next month to continue that process.”

The players say, umm, what are you talking about? Here is NFL Players Association president Kevin Mawae:

“We are not anywhere closer to a deal now than we were in March,” Mawae said during a Sirius NFL radio interview.

I am not sure what to believe any more. Let’s just hope these guys actually get serious before part of a season is flushed away by greed.

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NFL Lockout Will Stay In Place As 8th Circuit Court Grants Permanent Stay

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has granted the NFL’s request for a permanent stay of District Court Judge Susan Nelson’s ruling lifting the NFL Lockout, meaning the lockout will remain in place during the league’s appeal of Nelson’s ruling.

The appeal to the Court of Appeals is scheduled to be heard beginning on June 3.

Reaction to the ruling is coming in fast and furious via Twitter. While it can be frustrating for fans to have the lockout messing, maybe this ruling is not a bad thing.

From Albert Breer of the NFL Network:

The ruling on the appeal is a major, major leverage point for each side that could spark crucial negotiating period in July.

From Chris Mortenson of ESPN:

Court was about leverage; it now swings in owners favor but many owners are nervous & want a deal done. Players now have to get a deal done.

One more from Breer, which might indicate that the Circuit Court is inclined to overturn Nelson’s ruling:

“We have serious doubts that the district court had jurisdiction to enjoin League’s lockout..”

Short-term, this means no OTA, mini-camps … no football. Long-term, this ruling appears to swing the balance of power. Maybe that results in a deal that will give us on-time football. Let’s hope.

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NFL Lockout 2011: Cris Collinsworth Predicts No Football Until November

Cris Collinsworth of NBC is predicting that the NFL labor dispute will end up causing games to be missed, and that the NFL season won't start until around November 1st. That is a scenario no one really wants, and you have to hope Collinsworth is wrong.

In Collinsworth's prediction, a deal is finally reached on a new collective bargaining agreement some time around the end of September. Training camps open around Oct. 5 and regular-season games around Nov. 1. That leaves, realistically, a half-season with the Super Bowl pushed back a week.

Matt Bowen of the National Football Post said of Collinsworth's prediction: "this might be the best option we will see."

Right now it is hard to be optimistic that Collinsworth will end up being wrong. Both sides can argue about "irreparable harm" if they want, but no one has truly suffered anything approaching it yet. That won't happen until players start missing game checks and owners have empty stadiums not producing any revenue.

Agree? Disagree? Let me know if you think Collinsworth is right.

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NFL Lockout Update: John Mara Back At Bargaining Table

Maybe New York Giants co-owner John Mara can help get NFL owners and players back on the path toward settle the ongoing NFL labor dispute. Mara will be one of the NFL owners at the table when the sides meet in a mediation session Monday in Minneapolis. He missed the last round of the negotiations while on jury duty.

Mara was seen as a key member of the negotiating committee during early rounds of talks with players. Other NFL owners attending the session will be Carolina's Jerry Richardson, Cincinnati's Mike Brown and Pittsburgh's Art Rooney.

With the mediated session approaching, there are still many legal matters to be sorted out.

Both sides are still waiting for a ruling from the Eight Circuit Court of Appeals as to whether the temporary stay it granted putting the lockout back in place will be turned into a full stay pending the league's appeal of the decision by Judge Susan Nelson originally lifting the lockout.

In addition, a hearing will be held today in Minneapolis in front Judge David Doty on the television lockout insurance case. Pro Football Talk has the details.

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NFL Lockout 2011: No Ruling Yet From Appeals Court On Stay

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals still has not issued a ruling on whether its stay of the ruling lifting the NFL Lockout will remain in place pending the hearing scheduled for June 3. There is, however, plenty of legal wrangling going on in the ongoing labor dispute between NFL owners and players.

The league Monday filed its first brief with the court in advance of that hearing.

NFL.com’s Albert Breer summarized the league’s position:

The arguments in Monday’s filing were an expanded version of what the league has claimed all along: that the NFL Players Association’s move to decertify after the initial bargaining talks broke down March 11 is a sham; that Nelson doesn’t have the jurisdiction to lift the lockout; and that she should have waited for a decision from the National Labor Relations Board on the union’s status before issuing that ruling.

The league also said that lifting the lockout without a labor deal in place would cause chaos, with teams trying to make decisions on signing free agents and making trades under a set of rules that could drastically change under a new agreement.

If the league is forced to lift the lockout, the rules under which teams would operate have yet to be determined.

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NFL Lockout Ruling Should Come Soon

The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals could rule today, Tuesday or even later this week on whether or not the NFL Lockout can and will stay in place while the NFL files an appeal of Judge Susan Nelson's ruling lifting it. A long-term stay would leave the lockout in place until at least early June, when the Court of Appeals will hear arguments as to whether or not the lockout should remain in place until a labor settlement is reached.

In breaking down the possible scenarios and reasons for each, Andrew Brandt has come away thinking that the Court of Appeals will rule in the NFL's favor, leaving the lockout in place until at least the June 3 hearing.

He writes, in part:

The fact that the Court issued a temporary stay immediately and now has waited ten days -- and counting -- would indicate that they may not see Players having immediate and irreparable harm. And the expedited appeal schedule allows for time for this entire drama to be settled prior to the start of any actual football games.

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk wrote Sunday that the league might simply close its doors completely, more or less going out of business, if it loses this ruling. Per Florio, the league feels it would not be violating a court order because there would be no league, thus there would be no lockout.

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