Fed. Judge Rules to End Lockout

Still, there are many hurdles to clear and questions to answer before pro football is back on track. The NFL responded by filing a notice of appeal, questioning whether Judge Susan Nelson exceeded her jurisdiction.

A federal judge in Minnesota granted players an injunction Monday to lift the NFL lockout, and NFL owners have appealed the decision.

U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson ruled only on the injunction, not the entire case of Brady v. NFL. If Nelson or the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in St. Louis doesn't grant the owners a stay, the 2011 season could start in theory.

"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," the NFL said in a statement. "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."

Countered NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith: Today's ruling is a win for the players and for our fans. Today, those who love football are the winners."

A couple Packers players contacted by Packer Report via Twitter said they did not plan to be at Lambeau Field for work on Tuesday. Tight end Tom Crabtree said he might do some donuts in the Lambeau parking lot and "might stop in for a lift." Teams, however, were being advised to keep weight rooms closed until a ruling on the appeal is rendered.

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The NFL has unwillingly moved one step closer to reopening for business.

Federal district judge Susan Nelson's decision probably won't pay instant dividends. Even if players begin arriving at team headquarters Tuesday morning — which is being rumored — the NFL appealed Nelson's ruling late Monday. The league is asking for an immediate stay, which some legal experts believe could be granted as early as Tuesday.

The stay would keep the lockout in place "pending an expedited appeal to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals," an NFL statement said. It would then take weeks or even months before a ruling on that appeal by the St. Louis-based court is issued.

If the stay isn't granted, the NFL may very well be forced to at least temporarily begin its calendar year for the 2011 season albeit under currently unknown operating rules. That means the start of a free-agent signing period, the resumption of personnel moves (trades, signing, releases, etc.), payment of roster bonuses, and the opening of offseason workout programs.

For more analysis from FoxSports.com's Alex Marvez, CLICK HERE.

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport.

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