SBD/April 27, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NFL Lockout Watch, Day 47: Players Mostly Rebuffed In Return To Team Facilities

Batch (l), Clark were only Steelers players to report to team facility
U.S. District Judge Susan Nelson's injunction to lift the NFL lockout Monday "led to one of the most bizarre days in a bizarre offseason -- with teams and players, and franchises just 30 minutes apart, operating yesterday under divergent interpretations of whether the league was truly open for business," according to Garafolo & Vrentas of the Newark STAR-LEDGER. Most teams in the NFL "went the way of the Jets, who told the six players who reported that the workout and training facilities were closed and shielded their coaches from interacting with them, pending the league's request to stay" Nelson's ruling. The Giants "were an exception, as coach Tom Coughlin embraced the trio of players who showed up." However, the Giants last night said that they "had decided to close their workout and training facilities moving forward, until the pending actions in court are resolved -- but would still permit players to come into the building and converse with staff and coaches socially" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 4/27). Giants DT Chris Canty "worked out in the team's weight room and spoke to" Coughlin and other staff members. The coaches "told Canty to return Wednesday," but he will not be able to work out again. Most players "weren't as fortunate and left in a matter of minutes after arriving on a strange day with more questions than answers" (ESPN.com, 4/26). In N.Y., Gary Myers wrote it was "not quite as chaotic as the striking players throwing eggs at buses carrying replacement players in 1987, but Tuesday was not a proud day around the NFL" (NYDAILYNEWS.com, 4/26).

CLOSED FOR BUSINESS: In N.Y., John Branch notes Jets players yesterday "entered the building and were told that they were welcome, but that they could not use the facilities without the supervision of trainers or coaches, who were nowhere to be seen." Jets G Brandon Moore: "It's kind of weird, kind of awkward, not to have access to the facility like we normally do. ... It was uncomfortable, like I shouldn't be there" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/27). Moore added, "I don't think I'll be wasting gas going back and forth to see if they'll let us in the building to work. This is getting silly now" (N.Y. POST, 4/27). In DC, Maske & Jones reported Redskins LB Lorenzo Alexander was "at the door of Redskins Park headquarters shortly before" 9:00am ET yesterday. He was met by Redskins Exec VP & GM Bruce Allen, "who sent Alexander home after one of those brief, matter-of-fact conversations that took place at NFL team facilities across the country" yesterday. Meanwhile, Redskins WR Anthony Armstrong said that he "asked if he could pick up some cleats and Allen ushered him to his locker" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 4/26). Bears Senior Dir of Football Administration & General Counsel Cliff Stein met players "in the Halas Hall lobby and told them they were not allowed to work out." Bears K Robbie Gould said that Stein "informed players official workouts have not started." Gould "has no plans to show at Halas Hall" today. Gould: "There is no reason to go there. They made it very clear ... when official workouts have started they'll let us know" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 4/27). But Gould said he and several other players were greeted by Bears execs who "were very nice, they were very genuine, to the point to say, 'Listen, obviously because of certain clarifications that need to be taken care of, obviously you guys will not be able to work out today'" ("Outside The Lines," ESPN, 4/26). 

Cribbs says team's action shows
that lockout is not over
STOPPED AT THE LINE
: Bills CB Leodis McKelvin said that he was "stopped at a security desk" at the team's practice facility and "then was approached by Bills CEO Russ Brandon." McKelvin said that he was "denied entry and that Brandon told him coach Chan Gailey would contact him and his teammates to inform them when they would be allowed to report." Bills S and player rep George Wilson: "If I said I wasn't expecting it, I'd be lying to you. There's all kinds of ways around and loopholes" (AP, 4/26). Several Seahawks players "attempted to enter" the team's practice facility yesterday. They "were allowed past a security gate into the players' parking lot, but were reportedly rebuked by security and denied access into the team's Renton headquarters" (Tacoma NEWS TRIBUNE, 4/27). Five Cardinals players who reported yesterday "were directed to a conference room and politely told they couldn't work out or visit the locker room." They "were given a short letter of explanation and all left immediately afterward." There was "minimal contact with anyone from the team" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 4/27). Three Browns players reported yesterday and "received a letter from the Browns asking them for their patience during the labor dispute." Browns WR Josh Cribbs: "Legally, the lockout is over. But, officially, the lockout is not over, and we just witnessed that today" (OHIO.com, 4/26). Four Cowboys players showed up yesterday and "received an organizational cold shoulder: no weight room; no time with coaches; no workout." Within an hour, "all four were gone, off to a nearby golf course" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 4/27).

KEEPING THEIR DISTANCE: In Atlanta, D. Orlando Ledbetter reported Falcons players "elected to stay away from the team's facilities." Falcons LB and player rep Coy Wire: "There are no plans to return to the facilities of which I am aware." A team spokesperson said that "no one showed up and nobody was expected to report" (AJC.com, 4/26). Chiefs G and NFLPA Exec Committee member Brian Waters Monday said he would tell teammates not to report until there was some clarity, and Chiefs players "appeared to be following the advice" yesterday. Chiefs S Jon McGraw: "We just recommended that guys wait until we have a chance to speak with the team. ... We didn't want to put strength coaches and trainers in a bad position this morning where they had to tell us, 'Hey, you guys can't be here right now.' We wanted to avoid that whole situation" (K.C. STAR, 4/27). Patriots DT Vince Wilfork said, "I won't head to Foxboro until everything's over. I don't think that's the right play in this situation." In Boston, Ian Rapoport notes with the Patriots' weight room "still closed to the players, many don't see the point" (BOSTON HERALD, 4/27). Patriots OT and player rep Matt Light: "What I've been telling the guys is 'give it a little time'" (ESPNBOSTON.com, 4/26). Colts C and player rep Jeff Saturday said that the Colts "will continue to work out away from team headquarters." Saturday: "I don't think it does anybody any good -- at least from our team's perspective -- to rush back in" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 4/27).

FRIENDLY CONFINES: Saints S Malcolm Jenkins was the "only player to show up at the team's Metairie complex" yesterday, and he was "barred from using the weight room or other facilities." But Saints Exec VP & GM Mickey Loomis, who met briefly with Jenkins, said, "We didn't turn him away. He came and picked up his mail, and I visited with him for a few minutes -- and he wanted to know what he could and couldn't do" (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 4/27). In San Diego, Kevin Acee writes the "mood was relaxed at Chargers Park, where eight players showed up." A few of them described their intentions and what they did as "hanging out" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 4/27). Steelers S Ryan Clark and QB Charlie Batch "were allowed into the building, and Clark chatted with Steelers president Art Rooney II and coach Mike Tomlin" (Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 4/27).

TO EACH TEAM, THEIR OWN: ESPN's John Clayton reported that each NFL team is "pretty much going on a certain guideline from the league, and then each team is taking their own kind of changes just to make sure that they can comply with the judge's order" ("NFL Live," ESPN, 4/26). On Long Island, Rock & Barker note the Giants, like every NFL team, "received guidelines from the NFL on how to handle players who showed up Tuesday," and their "interpretation of those guidelines apparently was very different from other teams'" (NEWSDAY, 4/27). But NFLPA President Kevin Mawae said, "It sounds like to me that the NFL and all the general managers and owners collectively agreed to come up with individual reasons as to why their facility wasn't able to provide work-outs for the players" ("The Scott Van Pelt Show," ESPN Radio, 4/26).
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