Monday evening, Judge Susan Nelson ruled in favor of the players, lifting the NFL lockout. It was a decision that the league's owners quickly appealed, seeking a stay of the lockout during the process. But with that ruling not expected until Tuesday sometime, it appears that for a few hours Tuesday morning, the NFL will run as though there is no lockout. Most importantly, this means the players can report to work as normal.
In fact, the former NFLPA is telling its players to do just that in an email sent Monday night (via Adam Schefter):
"Unless and until the judge issues an order for a stay, the teams will be in violation of Judge Nelson's order if they don't allow access."
NFL Managment Council told teams to let players into their buildings Tuesday, but also recommended keeping weight rooms closed.
There are already reports of some coaches contacting their players -- they were previously unable to do so when the lockout was ongoing -- and Ryan Clark and other Pittsburgh Steelers plan on reporting on Tuesday. And according to Greg Aiello, NFL spokesman (via NFL Network's Albert Breer), if a player shows up to a team facility on Tuesday, they will be allowed access: "If a player comes to the facility, he will be treated courteously and with respect."
But there are still more questions than answers at this point, as SB Nation's Brian Floyd points out.
The timing of the ruling couldn't be worse for the NFL. The 2011 NFL Draft is on Thursday and without a clear set of rules, anything could happen. With the lockout in place, teams would not have been able to trade players on draft day and would have only been allowed to trade picks for picks. But now? Well, we're not quite sure what will happen, but, theoretically, teams could make player trades.
Beginning immediately, with the lockout lifted, teams could sign and trade players. Is there anything stopping teams from making a mad dash for Matt Hasselbeck or any number of free agents out there? Not from a rules standpoint, but it's highly unlikely the owners break rank and make a mad dash for players.
NFL's wild, wild west scenario, indeed.