The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit has granted the NFL’s motion for a stay.
What does that mean?
It means that the lockout is still on and will be staying on until the court rules on whether to overturn Judge Nelson’s ruling. That ruling will likely come sometime in mid to late June.
The players will get to please their case but unfortunately for them, things are not looking good. As Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk pointed our earlier, the appeals court may have tipped their hand as to how they will rule in June with some text from their ruling granting the temporary stay.
Per Florio, from page 11 of the ruling:
“[W]e have serious doubts that the district court had jurisdiction to enjoin the League’s lockout, and accordingly conclude that the League has made a strong showing that it is likely to succeed on the merits.”
This should make the players very, very nervous. If the league wins the appeal then play players lose their leverage. The NFL will then hold all the cards. The league’s plan all along was to use the threat of an extended lockout and the potential of missed game checks to squeeze the players into agreeing to a deal favorable for the owners.
This isn’t going to happen but I think it is time for the players to wave the white flag. If they sign a deal now, before the appeals ruling, they might be able to convince the league to bend a little. I say this not because I agree with the owners but because I now feel the players are doomed to lose this appeal. After that, the league will have all the leverage and if the players remain stubborn I do believe games will be missed.
Chances are, however, the players’ lawyers will convince them that they still have a chance of winning the hearing in June. If the players buy it then that means the lockout will roll on all the way into June and possibly the beginning of July, depending on how long it takes the court to rule.
It sucks but the players always knew their best option was to go to the courts. If it looks like they are going to lose in court, their best bet is to cut their losses now and get back to work. Otherwise, the owners are going to run out the clock.