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Report: Judge Rules For Players, Lifts NFL Lockout

[Update by JimmyK, 04/25/11 6:21 PM EDT ] - On the NFL Network crawl:

(Nelson) declines to stay her ruling pending an appeal.

It appears as though we finally have a ruling the in Brady vs NFL case. ESPN is reporting that US District Court Judge Susan Nelson has ruled in favor of the players and granted their motion for a preliminary injunction lifting the lockout imposed by the owners in March. 

The ruling could have wide ranging effects on the offseason. Teams would presumably have to open their doors for players to return to offseason workouts, use their facilities and have contact with their coaches. It could also mean that the NFL would have open the free agency period and players trades could resume.

However, the NFL is expected to file an immediate appeal and ask for a stay of the ruling while their appeal is heard. If that is granted, essentially nothing will change from the status quo.

While the ruling would certainly be a win for the players and would seem to give them some leverage, it certainly doesn't ensure that the season will be played or that an agreement will be struck any time soon. The owners will of course appeal, which will prolong the process, plus the NFL also currently has an unfair labor practices complaint against the players that the National Labor Relations board has yet to rule on. If that decision goes against the players, it would render the dissolving of their union invalid and therefore the court decision that came as a result presumably invalid as well. Essentially we'd be back at square one.

At the very least, the ruling does move the process along, which is good news. Perhaps the owners will take it as a sign that they should make some concessions and possibly that would get us closer to an agreement. I'm not very optimistic about that, but anything is possible.