Monday, April 25, 2011
Will players show up for work Tuesday?
By Rich Cimini
UPDATE: The players' organization e-mailed players late Monday night and informed them they're legally entitled to report to their team facility Tuesday, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported. Unless and until the judge issues an order for a stay (a delay of the injunction), the teams can't block access, the players were told.
UPDATE: The NFL Management Council informed teams to let players into the facilities, but instructed them to keep the weight rooms closed, Schefter reported. Jets veteran leaders were assessing the situation late Monday night.
Will they or won't they? Show up for work, that is.
U.S. District judge Susan Nelson's decision Monday to order an immediate end to the NFL lockout has fueled rampant speculation that players will show up to team facilities Tuesday morning. In fact, the Steelers' Ryan Clark went public, asking teammates to join him at work.
As of 9 o'clock Monday night, the Jets had no organized plan to follow suit, according to assistant player rep Brandon Moore -- although it's possible some players might go on their own. Moore said he discussed the matter Monday with team rep Tony Richardson, a member of the NFLPA's executive committee. Moore said they agreed to re-visit the matter again Tuesday.
Moore said he was aware of Clark's effort and admitted "it's not a bad idea." But he added, "We'll see how it plays out." Moore, who has been working out at a facility near the Jets' complex, said he wasn't planning as of Monday night to show up.
D'Brickashaw Ferguson's agent, Brad Blank, said he will recommend to Ferguson that he report to the Jets' facility. Ferguson's contract calls for a $750,000 workout bonus, the largest in the league. According to the contract, he must attend at least 85 percent of the off-season workouts to collect. To cover themselves, players in Ferguson's situation might show up to protect themselves legally.
"It only makes sense for a guy with a big workout bonus," said Blank, who was trying to reach the Jets' Pro Bowl left tackle to share his thoughts. "It's not going to be a huge thing. He'll go to the office, the security guard will say, 'No, I can't let you in' and he'll leave quietly. It's not going to be James Meredith at Mississippi, with the national guard."
Other players have big bonuses tied to workouts, including Bryan Thomas ($500,000), Mike DeVito ($350,000), Calvin Pace ($250,000) and Bart Scott ($250,000).
So players may show up Tuesday, but whether they're granted access is another question. The entire situation is murky. The league has said it will appeal Nelson's decision, hoping to receive an immediate stay. That would keep the players out and would keep free agency and trading on the backburner.
Moore said Monday's court victory was significant for the players, but paraphrasing a message sent to the players by NFLPA president Kevin Mawae, he said: "We earned a first down, but we have to keep our head on a swivel. He put it in football terms, and I think it fits.
"We knew we were right all along, but to have a judge rule in our favor feels good," Moore continued. "All we ever wanted was to go back to work. There's no greed, no personal grudge matches, no ego. Guys just want to play football. How do you do that? You get the judge to lift the lockout, and that's what happened.
"I find it strange that we're the ones getting beat up in the press," he went on. "All we want to do is work. The owners are claiming how much they want to help the game, but they're keeping us out. I find it quite strange. I find it disheartening and disappointing."
Moore said he's planning to meet with teammate Nick Mangold this week to discuss plans for an offensive-line get-together -- some classroom work and maybe light drills.
"We can do it in somebody's basement, using a dry-erase board," Moore said. "We can get together to go over plays and protections, and get the brain working toward football. I know in the past, when we started the offseason in March, it was a big adjustment, just getting back to talking football terminology. We don't need anything fancy, just a basement and a dry-erase board."
Mark Sanchez is planning to have a mini-minicamp for skill-position players next month in California.