Gould, teammates brace for the worst

CHICAGO -- With the NFL players' request for an injunction to lift the lockout scheduled to be heard before a federal judge in Minnesota on April 6, Chicago Bears kicker and player rep Robbie Gould is busy trying to keep teammates informed about the potential ramifications of next week’s hearing.

"The players know the whole case is meant to lift the current lockout, because our stance has always been we want to play and we want a fair deal," Gould said Wednesday. "I e-mail and call the players, but the most effective way to communicate is a mass e-mail coming from the trade association player rep so everyone can talk freely among us. As soon as I get information from our trade association, it goes out to the players. I think everybody understands exactly what has gone on to this point, and the players are united in the sense of knowing what's coming next.

"Obviously, if the owners win [the lawsuit] and the lockout is upheld, then we'll still be without a job and paying insurance. If we win the court case, the doors will be open and we'll play under rules which are to be determined.

Judge Susan Nelson could take several weeks to rule on the matter, and since the losing side expected to appeal the decision, Gould has braced teammates for the worst. But in the event an injunction is granted, the Bears could very well be back at Halas Hall some point next month.

"There is really not a set date in which we would go back to work because that would be based on the clubs," Gould said. "Let's say we win on April 15, they could open the doors back up on the 16th. Is that realistic it could be the next day? I really don't know, but the clubs will obviously have to open the doors at some point and figure out when they would want to pay us and when they want the players back to start working out again. Of course if the owners lose, but then win the appeal, they could potentially lock us out all over again at some point in time.

"It was pretty amazing to hear the NFL owners keep saying we don't want a lockout, we don't want a lockout, and then a week and a half later [NFL league negotiator] Jeff Pash comes out and says we think everything the trade association is doing as far as decertification is completely false, and we want the lockout to continue. Well, I thought you didn't want a lockout, I thought you wanted us to play. So everything the NFL is saying is completely contradictory to what they are really trying to do.

"I've told the players you could be back to work in the middle or end of April, or you could not have a season. Prepare for the worst, prepare as if you're not having a season, and then hope for the best. "