Late on Wednesday evening, Judge Susan Nelson denied the National Football League's request for a stay of the ruling that allowed the NFL Lockout to continue.
What does that mean? It means that, for now, the lockout is still lifted, but the NFL is expected to appeal to the Eighth Circuit Court and ask them for a stay of the previous ruling as well.
NFL Spokesman Greg Aiello released the following statement to the media, indicating that the league is taking Judge Nelson's ruling quite seriously.
"We are filing tonight a request with the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals for a stay of the preliminary injunction pending our appeal," Aiello said. "We believe there are strong legal and practical reasons that support a stay and that the Court of Appeals should have an opportunity to address the important legal issues that will be presented. We have asked the Court of Appeals to consider on an expedited basis both our request for a stay and the appeal itself. We are evaluating the District Court’s decision and will advise our clubs in the morning on how to proceed."
(Hat tip to Pro Football Talk for the story.)
What does this mean? Well, the league will be advising their teams on how to proceed on Thursday, but from the content of the ruling, it appears that the 2011 league year is supposed to be getting underway in very short order. It also means that, with the draft coming up this evening, it is possible that trades for players that are currently under contract could be allowed, which is something that would not have happened had a stay been issued and the lockout allowed to continue the way it had been.
We still need to know what rules things like free agency will be conducted under and things of that nature, as that could have a dramatic effect on certain teams and certain players. If business is to be conducted under last season's rules, many players that thought they would be eligible for unrestricted free agency under a new Collective Bargaining Agreement will find themselves as restricted free agents instead. This is notable in the case of the Vikings for wide receiver Sidney Rice and defensive end Ray Edwards, both of whom would be restricted free agents under last year's rules rather than unrestricted, thus increasing their chances of staying with Minnesota.