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Appeals Court Fast-Tracks Request To Maintain NFL Lockout

NFL Players Association Representatives

NFL Players Association Representatives (Photo Credit: AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

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MINNEAPOLIS (CBS/AP) – A federal appeals court has agreed to fast-track a request by the NFL to put its labor lockout in place until a final deal is worked out.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis set a June 3 hearing, with 30 minutes of oral argument for each side, before Judges Duane Benton, Kermit Bye and Steven Colloton.

U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson issued her injunction stopping the 45-day lockout on April 25 and denied the NFL’s appeal two days later. The league appealed to the 8th Circuit, and the same three-judge panel issued a temporary stay of Nelson’s order on Friday.

The lockout was put back in place by the owners a few hours later. The 8th Circuit is still deciding whether to make the stay more permanent, until the appeals process can play out.

Under the appeals schedule set up Tuesday, the league’s opening brief is due May 9 and the players must file their response brief by May 20. The NFL’s reply to the response is due May 26.

The appeals court’s approval of an expedited stay gave the NFL at least some relief from the stern rebuke Nelson delivered.

In defending an end to the lockout, players have argued there is no guarantee that can be wrapped up in time for the regular season.

The St. Louis Rams announced via Twitter that it was pushing back the deadline for renewing season tickets to June 1 to “provide our fans flexibility given the current labor uncertainty.” Other teams have adjusted prices.

Players have argued that they are at the highest risk for irreparable harm, which Nelson agreed with, through the postponement or cancellation of free agency, offseason workouts and the like.

But the NFL has said that’s an exaggerated claim. Players, the league said, would not lose their opportunity to play for the team of their choice once the league year begins, even if that’s in late June or early July instead of early May. That process usually starts in early March.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS Radio and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)