ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- A federal judge has sided with NFL players and granted their request for a preliminary injunction to lift the lockout.
U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson issued her ruling late Monday. The ruling gives the players an early victory in their fight with NFL owners over a new collective bargaining agreement in the $9 billion business.
Owners imposed the lockout after talks broke down on March 11 and the players disbanded their union. The players say the lockout is causing irreparable harm to their careers. A group of players filed the injunction request along with an antitrust lawsuit against the league.
The owners argued it was their right to institute the lockout. They are expected to appeal Nelson's ruling.
NFL players are claiming a modest victory, if that.
Buffalo Bills safety George Wilson, who had served as the team's union player representative prior to decertification, says "by no means does this mean that we as the players have all the leverage or have an outright outlook that we're in the winning position right now."
Gary Roberts, dean of the Indiana University School of Law in Indianapolis, acknowledging that the NFL immediately will appeal, puts the decision in football terms. Roberts says "the players started on their own 20-yard line and I think they gained 15 or 20 yards, but there's a long way to the end zone."
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)