By Tom E. Curran
For the 13 of you still digesting lockout talk right now, one thing needs to be clear as the NFL players court case against the owners gets going Wednesday in Minneapolis. If the players win, business as usual is probably still a looooong ways off. The reason? Even if Judge Susan Nelson rules in favor of the players that the NFL is in violation of antitrust law and that the lockout must be lifted, the owners are absolutely going to appeal. And it would be crazy for the court to allow an immediate return to normalcy - the start of free agency, players returning to their facilities, bonuses being paid out - if an appeal could potentially put the lockout back in place. What then? Recollect bonus money and unsign the free agents? Internet strongman Mike Florio at Pro Football Talk did a nice job putting together 10 FAQs about the court case on Wednesday. He predicts that Nelson will "stay" the injunction ruling against the owners pending appeal. He also notes that, in order for Nelson's possible injunction to be overturned on appeal, the appelate court won't start the case from scratch, they'll only review whether any obvious mistake was made by Nelson under the "abuse of discretion" standard. In other words, it will be hard for the owners to win an appeal. Still, the appeals process could take a couple of months (nobody knows exactly how long) so don't expect free agent signings to begin next week even if the players win.