EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — The NFL lockout is back.
The league announced the move late Friday, hours after a key courtroom victory. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told The Associated Press that teams “have been told that the prior lockout rules are reinstated effective immediately.”
Earlier, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis granted the NFL’s request for a temporary stay of the injunction that lifted the 45-day lockout. Arguments will be heard as early as next week on whether that order from a federal judge in Minnesota should be overturned altogether.
The NFL’s announcement came during the NFL draft, not long after the third round wrapped up, and on the very day players were allowed to return to their teams’ facilities for the first time since March. Dozens if not hundreds of players happily met with coaches, worked out and got a peek at their playbooks.
“Nobody’s happy about any of this,” Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson said. “But it is what it is. The lockout is back into effect.”
Jets wide receiver Braylon Edwards, scheduled to become a free agent, put it simply on Twitter: “Looks like we’re unemployed again.”
“Its unfortunate 2 c the Lockout back on,” tweeted Arizona Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald. “2 all NFL fans, please know the players are w/ u & we both are being deprived of enjoying this game.”
The 2-1 decision from a panel of the 8th Circuit was issued by Judges Steven Colloton, Kermit Bye and Duane Benton. It included a lengthy dissent from Bye, who suggested temporary stays should be issued only in emergencies.
The ruling was the first victory for the NFL in the bitter labor fight. It came in a venue considered more conservative and favorable to businesses than the federal courts in Minnesota, where the collective bargaining system was established in the early 1990s and judges have generally favored players over the NFL.
Jim Quinn, the lead attorney for the players, downplayed Friday’s order.
“Routine grant of stay and totally expected,” he said. “The only surprise is that Judge Bye is so strongly against giving them even a tiny stay because the league obviously can’t show it is necessary.”