De Smith: “Football might be back on.”

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Even as his players are claiming a modest victory, if that, after Judge Susan Richard Nelson granted a preliminary injunction blocking the league’s lockout, DeMaurice Smith was more emphatic.

“We’re thrilled that it looks like football might be on,” the executive director of the NFL Players Association said Monday night.

Speaking to ESPN, Smith added: “If we’re in a world where players are actually suing so they can play football … that tells me we’ve lost our way.”

While the NFL lost this first step in litigation, it appealed the ruling a couple hours later.

Gary Roberts, dean of the Indiana University School of Law in Indianapolis, put the granting of the preliminary injunction in football terms.

“The players started on their own 20-yard line and I think they gained 15 or 20 yards,” Roberts said, “but there’s a long way to the end zone.

“We expected it, based on the questions she asked at the oral arguments. We knew where she was leaning.”

Bills safety George Wilson confirmed late Monday that the NFLPA emailed players suggesting they report to work Tuesday. He said players were told they should be granted access under normal circumstances and if they are denied access the teams would be in violation of the judge’s ruling.

Wilson had not heard from any Bills players who said they would report to the facility Tuesday.

Several agents suggested that players will begin reporting to team facilities Tuesday unless an immediate stay of the injunction is granted. Others were advising their players to hold back for now.

“Just hold tight, let the dust settle,” Ralph Cindrich said in an email to The Associated Press. “Much of this is new ground. Doors likely locked until appeal is over.”

After calling Nelson’s decision “definitely a major, major victory for the players,” Kevin Poston said of the NFL seeking a stay:

“I know it’s going to be hard for a judge to overrule another judge unless there was some major error in law that we don’t know about. But no one knows what happens now to free agency, to undrafted free agents and minicamps now that the lockout has been lifted. We still have to hear some details from the judge over the next couple of days and those details will be important.”

Vikings linebacker Ben Leber, who is a free agent, is one of the nine NFL players who are plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

“Football is back to business, but guess what? There’s no rules,” Leber said. “There’s a lot of positive to that, but there’s also a lot of negatives.”

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