Players will awake this morning to another day of being locked out by the NFL owners. The players are waiting on the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to decide on whether to grant the NFL’s motion for a permanent stay. Currently a temporary stay of the injunctive relief granted to the players by the district court is keeping the lockout in place. Speculation has been that the circuit court would rule either Wednesday or Thursday of this week.
But speculation is just that – speculation (something there has been a lot of in this case). ”I don’t have any indication whether there is going to be any further ruling on the motion for a stay,” the clerk of the circuit court Michael Gans said Wednesday according to USA Today. Gans reportedly referred to the matter as “still pending” and said the court “court may rule and the court may not [rule]” with regard to the permanent stay.
So speculation aside the circuit court could rule today, tomorrow, next week or not at all until after the June 3 hearing in St. Louis. Yesterday, the circuit court granted the NFL’s request for an expedited appeal on the lockout stay. Along with the hearing date, the court set an aggressive briefing schedule and limited each parties oral arguments at the hearing to 30 minutes before Judges Duane Benton, Kermit Bye and Steven Colloton. This same panel of judges granted the temporary stay in a 2-1 decision with a lengthy dissent by Judge Bye.
As long as the stay is in place there can be no player signings, trades, free agency or training camps. There can be no football. If the stay is lifted then the NFL will be forced to open its doors to the players and let the 2011 season begin.
The are a few key dates that we do know because the courts have given them to us.
May 9th – NFL’s opening brief due
May 12 – Hearing in the TV damages case
May 16 – Mediation scheduled to resume
May 20 -Players response brief due
May 26 - NFL’s reply brief due
June 3 – Appeal hearing on the stay
There is no required timeframe for the circuit court to issue its decision on the stay following the June 3 hearing and the party that loses will have the right to appeal to the full panel of judges for the circuit court. The antitrust lawsuit filed by the players against the NFL is still pending in the district court.