NFL players urge appeals court to lift lockout


ST. LOUIS (AP) — NFL players urged a federal appeals court today to declare the lockout illegal, saying the league had no right to impose a work stoppage that is now approaching three months with no sign of a deal that will save the 2011 season.

In a courtroom packed with some 200 people, including out-of-work players and retirees on folding chairs brought in to handle the crowd, attorneys on both sides of the bitter labor fight got roughly 30 minutes each to make their cases.

The appeal centers on the lockout that began hours after months of labor talks fell apart March 11, the players' union dissolved and the fight ended up in federal court.

The NFL contends the union decertification was a sham meant to gain leverage in the talks and the conflict remains subject to labor law.

The players argue that antitrust laws apply and the lockout put in place under labor law needs to be put on hold, as it was in April by U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson in Minnesota.

"We're asking for a preliminary injunction for a short period of time," the players' counsel, Theodore Olson, said in the hushed courtroom. "We're simply asking that the laws of the U.S. be respected."

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