U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson today ruled against the NFL, and lifted the owner imposed lockout. The lockout was instituted March 11 by ownership after negotiations broke down in the dispute over the division of the league's nine billion dollars in revenue.
This ruling is considered a victory for players, at least initially. Judge Nelson's decision appears to agree with the players charges that the NFL is in violation of anti trust laws. The league is expected to file an appeal as early as Tuesday morning.
Meanwhile the mediation Judge Nelson ordered has been placed on hiatus until May 16. The parties are both engaged in preparations for the NFL draft, that begins this Thursday. The now decertified players union had sent out letters to prospective draftees, urging them not to attend the league's draft party, an annual event held in New York City's Radio City Music Hall. Without a collective bargaining agreement in place teams may draft players, but are not permitted to negotiate contracts.