Judge Susan Nelson ruled in favor of the players request for injunction late Monday afternoon, meaning the lockout has effectively been lifted.
Nelson did not offer a preemptive legal stay on the ruling, pending appeal, so technically the decision takes effect immediately. More on that in a second...
What exactly this means for team's offseason workouts and league free agency is essentially up to the NFL. League spokesperson Greg Aiello released this statement Monday afternoon:
"We will promptly seek a stay from Judge Nelson pending an expedited appeal to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. We believe that federal law bars injunctions in labor disputes. We are confident that the Eighth Circuit will agree. But we also believe that this dispute will inevitably end with a collective bargaining agreement, which would be in the best interests of players, clubs and fans. We can reach a fair agreement only if we continue negotiations toward that goal."
Aiello also said that teams have no intention of starting any offseason programs or free agency until they get a definitive answer regarding the legal stay.
The NFL is filing that request as I type.
Assuming the stay is NOT granted (likely), the NFL will still file for appeal. But, until a ruling on the appeal, the league will be forced to conduct business as usual.
And exactly how they go about doing that will have to be decided. It's been said for sometime now that the most likely scenario would be to revert back to 2010 rules.
One way or the other, it's now probable that we have a full 2011 NFL season. Any appeal ruling is likely to side with Judge Nelson's decision.
You can read the lengthy 89-page ruling here.