- Associated Press - Monday, May 2, 2011

MINNEAPOLIS | Its players again barred from coming to work, the NFL told a federal appeals court Monday it believes the appeal over whether the lockout is legal can “readily be resolved” during the offseason.

The NFL filed a brief with the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis, arguing that the lockout should remain on hold permanently while the two sides hash their conflict out in court.

A three-judge panel of the appeals court put U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson’s order lifting the 45-day lockout on hold temporarily last week. The owners reinstated the lockout a few hours later, and they want Nelson’s order eventually overturned altogether.

In an 18-page brief, the NFL again argued that Nelson shouldn’t have jurisdiction in the labor fight. The league’s attorneys have repeatedly cited the Norris-LaGuardia Act, a Depression-era law they say bars federal courts from interfering in labor disputes on either side.

They again argued that lifting the lockout would result in the irreparable harm necessary to deserve a stay of Nelson’s order.

The absence of a stay “would irreparably harm the NFL by undercutting its labor law rights and irreversibly scrambling the eggs of player-club transactions,” the NFL’s attorneys wrote. “Absent a stay, there will be trades, player signings, players cut under existing contracts, and a host of other changes in employment relationships” between hundreds of players and the 32 NFL teams.

The filing is the latest salvo in the dispute over the division of this $9 billion business.

Hours after NFL players started to pick up playbooks and talk with coaches for the first time in nearly two months Friday, the lockout was reinstated when the appeals court granted a temporary stay of Nelson’s April 25 order.

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.