U.S. District Court Judge Susan Richard Nelson has issued an injunction against the NFL lockout, effectively ordering the league to resume business, but it was not immediately clear how quickly that might happen -- if at all.
If her ruling sticks, it could open to the door to a Kevin Kolb trade before the draft. But don't start holding your breath just yet. The league filed for a stay of the ruling Monday night and won't resume business until that request is heard.
"We do not intend to start the league year until we have had an opportunity to seek a stay," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello wrote in an e-mail.
If the league gets the stay of today's decision, the lockout could remain in place. That decision could come very quickly -- as early as tomorrow. If Nelson won't grant a stay, the owners can go to the Eighth Circuit court of appeals to seek a stay. They have already appealed the ruling.
Even if the decision holds up, it's not yet clear how quickly player movement would begin. Since there is no labor contract in place, the league would also have to set free agency rules and other regulations for player movement to start up (for example, are players unrestricted after four years? five? six?). That likely won't happen immediately, despite the judge's ruling, which handed a victory to players in the first round of the labor dispute's court fight.
"You’re going to have to give it a day or so to let the dust settle," said Jim Quinn, an attorney for the players. But if the stay is denied, he added, "they're going to have to act quickly."
If the ruling remains in place and business does not resume, the owners could be considered in contempt of court. Quinn praised the judge's ruling, which read in part:
"The Brady Plaintiffs have made a strong showing that allowing the League to continue their “lockout” is presently inflicting, and will continue to inflict, irreparable harm upon them, particularly when weighed against the lack of any real injury that would be imposed on the NFL by issuing the preliminary injunction."
The NFL responded, "We believe federal labor law bars injunctions in labor disputes. We are confident that the Eighth Circuit will agree."
Nelson, however, rejected the argument about federal labor law.
Lawyers for the players said they were pleased by the ruling, which they believe is consistent with precedent.
"I'm happy for our players and for our fans. Today, those who love football are the winners," said DeMaurice Smith, the head of what was the NFL Players Association.
You can read Judge Nelson's ruling here.