U.S. Court of Appeals for Eighth Circuit Grants Stay, Extending NFL Lockout Into June

Tired of the NFL lockout? Well, it’s time to get used to it because it’s not going anywhere until June, at the very earliest.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit granted the NFL’s request for a full stay Monday, according to NFL Network. That means the lockout will remain in place through the owners’ injunction appeal hearing next month. The appeal hearing will be June 3 in the Eighth Circuit, but a decision won’t be expected for several weeks. The Eighth Circuit required about three weeks to rule on the stay, which figured to be a much simpler decision.

The NFL was granted a temporary stay April 29 under the guise that the Eighth Circuit would eventually rule on a full stay. Without the stay, the NFL would have opened for business through the appeal hearing.

The NFL has appealed Judge Susan Nelson‘s decision to block the lockout. If the NFL wins the appeal in the Eighth Circuit, the lockout will remain fully intact until the owners and players reach a new collective bargaining agreement. In that scenario, the players will have lost all of the leverage they gained by decertifying and bringing the case to the courts, and they would likely have to agree to a CBA that would be very favorable to the owners.

Because of that, the lockout could stretch deep into the summer, if not longer, since the players weren’t close to accepting the owners’ final offer March 11 before the lockout. It will come down to one of two things: Will the players break in negotiations and simply agree to one of the owners’ first proposals because they want to play football? Or will the players hold out until the owners recess their demands, which could take awhile?

However, if the Eighth Circuit rules in the players’ favor in the appeal hearing, the NFL will reopen its doors, likely under the 2010 rules. The league will start the free-agency process, and there will be a full regular season. The two sides would still need to negotiate a CBA, but that shouldn’t affect any major football operations for the 2011 season. The NFL operated for six seasons without a CBA two decades ago.

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