The NFL labor dispute moved to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis on Friday, as a judge urged the sides to work toward an agreement.
After about an hour of oral arguments on the legality of the NFL owners’ lockout, Judge Kermit Bye said a ruling would come "in due course," but cautioned that "neither side will like" the decision.
"We wouldn’t be all that hurt if you go out and settle that case," Bye told the attorneys, according to the NFL Network.
The two sides argued before Bye and two other judges in the NFL’s appeal of a late April ruling that invalidated the lockout.
In a previous 2-1 decision, with Bye as the dissenter, the appeals court issued a stay on the ruling, reinstating the lockout pending the outcome of the league’s appeal.
The original ruling to nix the lockout was made by federal judge Susan Nelson in Minneapolis as part of the players’ antitrust lawsuit against the NFL. The suit was filed on March 11, the same day talks broke down and the owners decided to lock out the players.
There has been little movement between the two sides during court-ordered mediation sessions since the lockout went into effect. The first glimmer of hope for NFL fans came this week after the sides decided on their own to meet for three days of talks in Chicago.
The talks concluded Thursday, with US Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan canceling the next round of mediation, which was scheduled for next week.
Boylan, who has been mediating between the two sides, said this week’s talks represented "confidential settlement discussions" between the owners and players.
It is unclear, however, whether any major progress was made in the latest discussions, which included NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, and several owners and players.