The NFL’s labour lockout was officially lifted on Friday, with players the league over finally reporting to team facilities for training.
The NFL advised teams they were permitted to begin ‘basic football operations’ in the morning, clearing the way for players to talk with coaches, work out at team headquarters and pick up their playbooks.
Doors were opened after US District Court Judge Susan Nelson lifted the lockout and refused the league’s request for a stay of her order pending an appeal, some seven weeks after the labour dispute first began.
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, one of 10 players named as plaintiffs in an antitrust lawsuit filed against team owners, said it was back to business for players.
“From the players’ standpoint I think everybody is pleased we’re not locked out anymore, especially the rookies,” he told CNBC.
But others were more circumspect given the ongoing litigation that threatens to scupper the 2011 NFL season.
The league has taken their case to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, asking for Judge Nelson’s ruling to be put on hold while it argues it should be overturned altogether.
Should the three justices of the appellate court rule in the NFL’s favour, as appears likely to be the case, the lockout could be in place again as early as Monday.
Centre Ryan Kalil was one of several Carolina Panthers who showed up to Bank of America Stadium to collect their playbooks from new coach Ron Rivera.
“I don’t think anyone thought it was going to get to this point and it did. It got uncomfortable I think for everybody,” Kalil said from the parking lot.
“I think this thing is far from over. I don’t know how you measure victories or losses in this thing.”
“It’s nice there’s a little light at the end of the tunnel, and we get to come back and get out of that funk. We’ll see what happens moving forward.”
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