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2011 NFL Lockout Update: Court Grants Expedited Appeal, Awaiting Word On Stay

Yesterday some significant news came down in the NFL-"NFLPA" battle over Brady v. NFL. After Judge Nelson denied the NFL's requested stay last week, the NFL filed for an emergency stay with the court of appeal. In their motion, the NFL requested three things:

1) Expedited appeal
2) Stay pending the appeal
3) Temporary stay pending the decision on #2

Late last week the court granted number three, which put the NFL lockout back into effect. Yesterday afternoon, the court granted the NFL's motion requesting an expedited appeal. The full order (PDF) states that the three-judge panel will hear 30 minute oral arguments for each side on June 3, 2010. The parties will have a briefing schedule that requires the NFL's opening brief on May 9, the players response brief on May 20, and the NFL's reply brief on May 26.

This is significant because without an expedited appeal, the 8th Circuit might not have heard the appeal until as late as August. A decision could take several weeks if not longer, and oral arguments in August would push the decision into the season. As it now stands, a decision would seemingly be issued no later than sometime in July, if not June. If the NFL loses that decision, it is my understanding that they could then appeal to entire eleven judge panel. Beyond that their only other appeal is to the US Supreme Court, which only hears a small minority of appeals.

In the meantime, the court still has to rule on the longer stay pending the appeal. If the stay is granted, the lockout remains in effect. If the stay is denied, the lockout would be lifted and we would likely begin to see everything from OTAs and practices to transactions.

Given the expedited appeal, I actually think it increases the likelihood that a stay is granted. I need to look back over the court's temporary stay order, but with an expedited appeal, it would stand to reason that the judges would rule similarly. I could be entirely wrong, but that is my thought at the moment.