The United States Court of Appeals: "We have serious doubts that the district court had jurisdiction to enjoin the League's lockout, and accordingly conclude that the League has made a strong showing that it is likely to succeed on the merits."
That statement, taken from Appellate Case: 11-1898; filed Monday, May 16, 2011. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, granting the NFL's request for a permanent stay of injunction while they process a decision on the League's appeal.
You can read the entire ruling 24 page ruling here on Chicago Bears Huddle.
Make no mistake folks, that statement - the entire ruling for that matter - just tipped the metaphorical scales in favor of the league's owners. In a situation that appeared to be such a victory for the players, following Judge Susan Nelson's order, all but one Judge on the appeals panel took the side of the League.
That one Judge, the one who argued in favor of the players, wrote 11 of the 24 pages saying, "The fact the NFL must comply with the law (the Sherman Act) does not constitute irreparable harm - it is the absolute minimum that could be expected.
Continued: "Whatever harm may be said to befall the NFL during the pendency of the expedited appeal stands in stark contrast to the irreparable harm suffered by the Players."
But alas, that was the minority.
The rest of the panel argued what Judge Susan Nelson failed to do was consider that the same factors she used to justify the player's "irreparable harm" also were of potential harm to the owners.
"The district court gave little or no weight to the harm caused to the League by an injunction, in the midst of an ongoing dispute. The court found irreparable harm to the Players because the lockout prevents free agents from negotiating contracts with any team, but gave no weight to harm that would be caused to the League by player transactions."
Following the ruling, the NFL issued a statement which contained the following: "The league and players, without further delay, should control their own destiny and decide the future of the NFL together through negotiation."
This is exactly what the NFL wants. The longer the league holds the players at the negotiating table - unwilling to budge on the key issues - the more likely it will be that the players are forced to concede.
The Eighth Circuit Court may have very well just shown its cards and the owners know it. The ruling is no doubt a very real victory for the league and an all but crippling blow to the players.
Interestingly enough, DeMaurice Smith was spotted having lunch with Roger Goodell this very afternoon.
Man, if I could have been a fly on the wall near that table ... stay tuned folks...