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NFL Lockout Has Officially Begun

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On Friday afternoon, the NFLPA decertified, announced its status as a trade association, and nine league players filed antitrust lawsuits against NFL clubs and owners. For a time, it was unclear what direction the league would take in response; they eventually settled on their long-assumed direction, informing players that they're no longer welcome at team facilities and instigating a lockout.

The nine antitrust lawsuits - leveled by the likes of Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Drew Brees, among others - are designed to block the lockout through litigation. In the case of incoming rookie Von Miller, who was also named a plaintiff, the purpose is reportedly to prevent the league from instituting salary restrictions on 2011 NFL Draft prospects.

Owners remain convinced that a deal will be reached in time for the 2011 NFL season to play out as scheduled, and they're also convinced that said deal will be agreed upon through negotiation. The bargaining process will not begin anew, however, until the litigation process is completed. Most expect the Judge David S. Doty decision, and subsequent appeals, to be wrapped up completely within the next four to six weeks. In the meantime, the league, and its players, are stuck in a sort of limbo. The wait has begun.