A federal magistrate has rejected the NFL's request for more time to file a response in the pending antitrust lawsuit filed by its locked-out players. U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeanne Graham ruled yesterday that the NFL must answer by June 6. The league had asked for a July 6 deadline to answer a lawsuit filed by current players but since amended to included complaints from retirees led by former Hall of Famer Carl Eller.

Meanwhile, NFL owners gathered yesterday for their annual spring meetings. Usually, it's a time for discussing Super Bowl sites and rules changes. This year, the 32 owners primarily will talk strategy for this summer as the labor impasse goes through court proceedings.

The labor situation remains something of a stalemate, locked in the courts until the league's full appeal of that injunction is heard June 3. But the 2-1 ruling on the stay contained strong language indicating the NFL will win its appeal.