Judge orders end to NFL lockout, league to appeal

A federal judge has granted a request by NFL players for a preliminary injunction to lift the league's lockout, now in its seventh week. U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson's ruling gives the players an early victory in their fight with NFL owners over a new collective bargaining agreement in the $9 billion business. The NFL responded by filing a notice of appeal questioning whether Nelson exceeded her jurisdiction, seeking relief from the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis. DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFL Players Association, says the players are “thrilled that it looks like football might be back on.” Legal experts say maybe, maybe not. Gary Roberts, dean of the Indiana University School of Law in Indianapolis, put the granting of the preliminary injunction in football terms. He says the players started on their own 20-yard line and have gained 15 or 20 yards. But Roberts says the players still have a “long way to the end zone.” Owners imposed the lockout after talks broke down on March 11 and the players disbanded their union. The players say the lockout is causing irreparable harm to their careers. A group of players filed the injunction request along with an antitrust lawsuit against the league.