Eighth Circuit rules that lockout is legal

UPDATE 12:37PM ET - The NFL and NFLPA have issued a joint statement regarding the Eighth Circuit's decision:

While we respect the court's decision, today's ruling does not change our mutual recognition that this matter must be resolved through negotiation. We are committed to our current discussions and reaching a fair agreement that will benefit all parties for years to come and allow for a full 2011 season.

Original Entry 11:37AM ET - The Eighth Circuit of Appeals has overturned Judge Susan Nelson's earlier injunction which had temporarily lifted the NFL lockout. As with the earlier temporary stay of Judge Nelson's injunction, Judge Kermit Bye stands alone as the opposing voice in the decision while his two colleagues ruled that the NFL's work stoppage had arisen out of a labor dispute and thus was protected by the Norris-LaGuardia Act.

Although the pro-owners ruling is not considered to be a surprise, the timing of the ruling's announcement is a bit curious, as the two sides continue to negotiate and have been reported as being close to agreement on a new CBA. Interestingly, the court ruled that the NFL cannot legally lock out players like rookies and veteran free agents who are not currently under contract, and also that Judge Nelson should have held an evidentiary hearing to suss out the effects of the lockout on those unsigned players. Additionally, the court specifically expressed no view on the antitrust implications of the dispute, thereby allowing the Brady suit to continue.

The immediate reaction from the media covering the labor talks is that the movement toward a new agreement will continue on, for what that's worth. Of course, we'll keep you posted.

More reaction:

  • Doug Farrar says the wording of the decision doesn't give either side anything in the way of leverage
  • Florio writes that the ruling as relates to unsigned players creates a loophole which could force teams to negotiate with rookies and unsigned veteran free agents after another hearing with Judge Nelson

Doug is IAOFM’s resident newsman and spelling czar. Follow him on Twitter @IAOFM