NFL Lockout: Ruling coming in a "couple of weeks"

SAINT PAUL, MN - APRIL 6: Former NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith (R) leaves for a recess during a hearing at the U.S. Courthouse on April 6, 2011 in Saint Paul, Minnesota. NFL players have filed an antitrust lawsuit against the NFL owners after labor talks between the two broke down last month. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

The hearing for an injunction to end the in the NFL lockout just finished. Both sides spent the day presenting their arguments as to why the NFL lockout should be lifted (from the players) and why the lockout should continue based on jurisdiction (the NFL). And the end of the day, Judge Susan Nelson said that she would need "a couple of weeks" to consider both arguments and render a decision. 

Two weeks from today would be April 20. The 2011 NFL Draft is three weeks away, starting Thursday, April 28. Depending on her decision, the NFL lockout could be lifted just in time to set off a frenzy of free agent activity in the days before the draft. But let's get back to action from today's Injunction Bowl.

Before wrapping up the hearing, Judge Nelson pleaded with both sides to continue talking, working on a settlement using her as the mediator. Nelson mentioned just how much both have at risk in the battle and shutting down football for an unknown amount of time by lockout.

It was her comments regarding the NFLPA's decertification that might have added a little urgency for the NFL and owners to negotiate. Nelson took issue with the NFL's claim that her court did not have jurisdiction over the matter on the grounds of their contention that decertification was a "sham" and the case belonged in front of the NLRB. She told the NFL lawyers that the players had the right to decertify, taking great risks to do so, and noted that the league "would be free to lock them out forever more" under the league's claim. 

Remember, speculating on judicial rulings based on questions and comments made at a hearing is folly. However, it doesn't stop anyone fro doing so, and it won't stop TST. More than anything, it looks as though Nelson would grant the injunction with some kind of caveat that the two sides resume negotiations through mediation supervised by her court...which is essentially where she left things today. The looming case regarding lockout insurance damages that goes before Judge Doty in late May could also prove to be a motivating factor. 

For now, neither side will likely budge, and the PR battle will continue until we get a ruling in two weeks. Stay tuned. 

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