NFL players were allowed to return to their team’ headquarters Friday morning, but they didn’t get to stay very long. Friday evening, during the second round of the NFL draft, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals granted the NFL’s request for a temporary stay of the injunction that lifted the league-imposed lockout earlier in the week.
“The clubs have been notified that the prior lockout rules are reinstated, effective immediately,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said late Friday.
The stay will last at least until Monday, when the 8th Circuit will hear the players’ arguments against the stay. But in the meantime, the court has apparently agreed with the NFL that the best course of action is to leave the lockout in place until they’ve had enough time to think about it.
“The focus tonight should be on the players who want to play and the fans that want to see them play,” NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith told ProPlayerInsiders.com. “Let us play.”
On Monday, U.S. District Court Judge Susan Nelson granted the players’ request for an injunction and enjoined the lockout. Wednesday, Nelson rejected the NFL’s request for a stay of that injunction pending its appeal to the 8th Circuit. The NFL then turned to the 8th Circuit and asked them to stay Nelson’s injunction while they considered the appeal of her decision. The 8th Circuit still has not technically granted the stay the NFL seeks, merely an administrative stay that will put things on hold until they decide whether a stay is truly warranted.
After Nelson’s second ruling of the week, the NFL announced Thursday that it would allow teams to open facilities Friday and begin football-related activities. Players would be allowed access to coaches, playbooks, weight rooms, etc., which they had not been allowed since the lockout was imposed March 11. Many players around the country took advantage of that, including several of the 32 players who were selected Thursday night in the first round of the draft.
But once the temporary stay was issued Friday, the doors to those facilities were locked again for the weekend. Depending on what the 8th Circuit Court thinks of the players’ counter-argument, they could either open again early next week or stay locked throughout the course of the league’s appeal, which could take a month or longer.
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