Ladies and gentleman, we have a ruling!
Chris Mortensen of ESPN has reported via Twitter that Judge Susan Nelson has just handed down her 89-page ruling in favor of the players, thus lifting the NFL lockout and paving the way for normal football to resume soon.
Filed to ESPN: Federal Judge Susan Richard Nelson has ruled for players, lifting lockout, per sources. Owners will seek immediate stay...Judge's ruling and opinion expected to be posted shortly so more clarity is expected, even though NFL will still fight hard...Judge Nelson's opinion will offer more clarity once posted but NFL is prepared to request a stay on ruling, keeping lockout in effect.
Our @AlbertBreer reporting Judge Nelson declined to issue a stay on her decision. So NFL will seek one from the appeals court
Now, the fate of the near future in the NFL rests on the 8th circuit court of appeals in St. Louis. Last chance for league to get the stay.
There's still a long way to go. It will probably take months for an appeal decision to be made. The NFL released a statement regarding Judge Nelson's ruling and their decision to appeal.
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.
This means it will undoubtedly be quite a while before a new Collective Bargaining Agreement between the players and owners gets settled. The NFL will probably exist under 2010 rules until then.
Here are a few excerpts from Judge Nelson's 89-page ruling being tweeted:
From Jason LaCanfora
"Employees have the right not to be a union as much as they have the right to organize as a union."
"they are suffering and will continue to suffer irreparable harm"
"The irreparable harm to the players outweighs any harm an injunction would cause the NFL."
"The public interest does not favor The Lockout." She says her "final factor" is "consideration of public interest."
From Dan Kaplan
"This Court finds that the disclaimer is not a mere tactic because it results in serious consequences for the Players,"
"the offhand, anecdotal comments of individual players are inconclusive."
"ensuing delay would simply exacerbate the irreparable harm the Players are incurring every day the so-called `lockout' continues."
"employees have the right not to be a union as much as they have the right to be or organize as a union."
"it is difficult to conceive of how or why an employer would "lockout" its employees when they are not part of a union."
We'll have more information as it's available and continue to update.