NFL pins its hopes on U.S. Court of Appeals in St. Louis

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At every turn, regardless of the judge, NFL owners continue to lose its legal battle against its players.

No wonder, then, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and others on the league side keep highlighting negotiating instead of litigating.

It’s easy to get caught up in the ebb and flow of this back and forth and lose focus of the big picture. Is it a surprise, in any way, that Judge Susan Nelson on Wednesday night essentially backed the 89-page ruling she filed Monday?

She made clear Wednesday that she meant that the lockout should be lifted and business should resume as usual. But one sentence is wrought with legalese.

“In fact, nothing in this Court’s Order obligates the NFL to even enter into any contract with the Players,” Nelson wrote.

Before that, Nelson writes that players “cannot force any onerous contract terms on the NFL,” which means the league still has some level of power. But to ignore her ruling — to lift the lockout — the league continue its “allegedly illegal behavior.”

So what’s the punishment? That’s not exactly clear.

At least temporarily, the league can officially continue its lockout of players, but they need the U.S. Court of Appeals in St. Louis to provide some momentum.

The NFL’s motion to expedite the appeal will be heard in the U.S. Court of Appeals this morning. An update will be posted on the court’s website later today.

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