The biggest date on the NFL's offseason calendar has been set.
The Eighth Circuit has granted the NFL's request for an expedited hearing, and it will hear the owners' appeal against the injunction June 3 in St. Louis, according to NFL Network.
If the Eighth Circuit rules in favor of the owners, the lockout will remain fully intact. After that, the two sides will need to negotiate a new CBA in order for the NFL to have a season in 2011.
If the Eighth Circuit rules in favor of the players, the lockout will be over for good. The league will then open its doors for business, most likely under the guidelines of the 2010 season. The two sides will not have to negotiate a new CBA to play a 2011 season — or any future season for that matter. Two decades ago, the NFL operated without a CBA for six seasons.
As of this ruling, the Eighth Circuit still hadn't ruled on the owners' request for a permanent stay, which would keep the lockout intact through the appeal process. If the stay is not granted, the NFL will reopen for business through the appeal process.