Federal Judge Susan Nelson has ruled in the player's favor and moved to lift the lockout, a decision that certainly helps boost the players case and perhaps turn the tide to negotiating a settlement as soon as possible. The NFL owners will surely appeal this ruling that came down just a few hours ago and is summarized on SB Nation.
What this means is that the players now have the ability to workout at the team's Practice facilities and see the trainer's to deal with injuries and maintaining their levels of fitness. It also means that free agency signings will be able to begin and the two sides will be forced to decide to play the 2011 season under 2010 rules until a new deal can be hammered out.
The owners feel this weakens the leverage they had over the players and might end up with the players continuing to not back off their demands. It also gives more credibility to NFLPA Executive director DeMaurice Smith, who has been looked at by many as the biggest obstacle to getting a deal done without jeopardizing the 2011 season.
How the next step in this process plays out is anyone's guess, but for now round one goes to the players.
(See the official NFL statement in response to the judge's ruling after the 'Jump')
"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. "