The worst has happened for NFL fans everywhere. The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, according to NFL Network's Albert Breer, has ruled on the appeal of the injunction by Judge Susan Nelson. After two weeks of a temporary stay of the injunction, the Court ruled 2-1 on a permanent stay, meaning the lockout will continue through the appeals process.
When Judge Nelson ruled that the lockout would cause "irreparable harm" and lifted the lockout just days before the NFL draft, we all thought that the free agent and trade free-for-all would begin. It never did because the NFL appealed and was granted the temporary stay, putting the lockout once again into effect.
After day upon day of reports that the Court would not rule, today was a surprise and actually made ESPN's Adam Schefter a bit of a prophet. He tweeted this morning that he expected a ruling sometime this week.
The ruling is a big blow to the players, who had, thus far, won all the other court battles. This one, though, is the most important one. It allows the league to keep the players from coming to work and thus not pay them. We know that this will eventually lead to the players caving. It now comes down to how long will it be.
At minimum, the lockout will continue through June 3, when hearings begin for the appeal. It will likely go on into July, as the court will probably take until then to rule. As it stands, the ruling says, "our present view is that Judge Nelson’s interpretation is unlikely to prevail." That would mean no training camp at the end of July, perhaps no preseason games and perhaps lost games in the 2011 season.
Not all is lost though. Mandated mediation began again today. The two sides could get something hammered out and all will be well again.
Will it happen? So far, we have learned that optimism is not the way to go.
More on what should happen to come....
Sorry I didn't get this up more quickly. The news broke as I was finishing up at work and had to get home and deal with the kids.