Judge sides with players and lifts lockout

7:38PM ET - The NFLPA has responded with a statement of their own:

We are pleased with the ruling granting the plaintiffs preliminary injunction to lift the NFL owners’ illegal lockout issued this afternoon by Judge Susan Richard Nelson. We believe that this 89-page well-reasoned decision is totally consistent with prior precedent, governing caselaw as well as administrative rulings on all the issues raised by the NFL Defendants. We are confident that this ruling will withstand any appeals.

7:07PM ET - The NFL has released a statement in response to Judge Nelson's ruling as follows:

We will promptly seek a stay from Judge Nelson pending an expedited appeal to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. We believe that federal law bars injunctions in labor disputes. We are confident that the Eighth Circuit will agree. But we also believe that this dispute will inevitably end with a collective bargaining agreement, which would be in the best interests of players, clubs and fans. We can reach a fair agreement only if we continue negotiations toward that goal.

6:35PM ET - Here is Judge Nelson's ruling in full. (PDF)

6:11PM ET - According to ESPN's Chris Mortensen, Judge Susan Nelson has ruled in favor of the NFLPA and lifted the NFL's lockout, as was widely expected. Judge Nelson's ruling reportedly does not include a stay, which the NFL is expected to soon request. If a stay is not granted, then the NFL must begin its 2011 league year immediately, thus opening free agency and allowing for the trades of veteran players.

6:20PM ET - As the NY Times' Judy Battista points out, the start of a new league year would mean teams could hold organized workouts, while players could meet with trainers for rehabiliation and coaches to study film and learn new playbooks. These latter two points are of particular import for the Broncos, with WRs Eddie Royal and Demaryius Thomas recovering both recovering from surgery and a new head coach and defensive coordinator taking over. 

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

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