NFLPA can continue collusion claims

A players' union lawsuit accusing NFL team owners of setting a secret salary cap in 2010 was kept alive by a federal appeals court Friday.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals partially reversed a federal judge's order that had rejected the NFL Players Association's collusion claim.

"We are pleased that the Eighth Circuit ruled that players have the opportunity to proceed with their claims. Through discovery and a hearing, we can understand how collusion took place," the union said in a statement. "We have notified the NFL of its obligations to preserve all relevant documents and communications."

The NFL took the decision in stride.

"As the Court emphasized, today's decision is entirely procedural in nature," its statement read. "Far from validating the Union's claim, the Court specifically highlighted the heavy burden that the NFLPA faces in establishing this claim, and we remain highly confident that the claim will be dismissed yet again."

The three-judge appeals court panel that heard oral arguments in January disagreed with U.S. District Judge David Doty on one of the NFLPA's two arguments for pursuing damages despite the 2011 collective bargaining agreement that was supposed to settle such lawsuits.

The appeals court sent the case back to Doty's jurisdiction in Minneapolis for further proceedings.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.