Judge orders end of NFL lockout

Courtesy of the CNN Wire Staff:

A federal judge has ruled in favor of NFL players on Monday, issuing an injunction that ordered the league’s owners to lift their lockout.

However, NFL Senior Vice President Of Public Relations Greg Aiello said the league will seek an immediate stay of the ruling pending an appeal.

A lockout was imposed after talks between the players and owners broke down last month and the players disbanded their union.

An NFL statement said an appeal will be on the grounds that federal law prohibits injunctions in labor disputes.

In her ruling Monday, U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson said the decision by the players to disband their union meant the case no longer came under federal labor law that prohibits injunctions, as claimed by the owners.

Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, and seven other players filed the lawsuit on behalf of other current and eligible NFL players against the league to halt the lockout, which could affect the start of the 2011-12 season scheduled for September 8.

The players also want a future trial to determine if the NFL lockout is in violation of federal antitrust laws.

If the players are locked out from playing in September, it would be the first NFL work stoppage since 1987, with months of labor and legal maneuvering looming for football fans already confused about how a $9 billion industry lacks enough money to satisfy everyone.

The heart of the issue between the players and the owners is how to divide the league’s $9 billion in revenue.

Right now, NFL owners take $1 billion off the top of that revenue stream. After that, the players get about 60%.

The owners say that the current labor deal doesn’t take into account the rising costs related to building stadiums and promoting the game. The players argue that the league has not sufficiently opened up its books to prove this.

In addition, the owners also want to increase the season by two games, which the players are against because of the risk of injuries.

While star players earn millions of dollars each year, the median NFL salary is $790,000 and the average career lasts about four years.

A lockout also impacts the league’s employees: the receptionists, ticket salespeople, and stadium workers. The New York Jets have announced that they will require all business-side employees to take a one-week unpaid leave each month during any lockout.

The lockout will not stop the NFL draft, which will proceed as scheduled on April 28-30, the league said.

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