Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Jets players can't work out
By Rich Cimini
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- On post-lockout Day 1, the New York Jets' training facility resembled a scene from "The Shining." Inside the cavernous building, the hallways were empty and doors were closed.
Closed to the players, that is.
About 14 hours after U.S. District Judge Susan Nelson granted the players' request for an injunction to lift the lockout, at least six Jets players showed up to the facility to work out. But they didn't stay long, as they were told by team employees that they didn't have access to the weight room and training facilities.
Brandon Moore, the team's assistant player rep, was the first to arrive, shortly after 8:30 a.m. He said he took about 20 steps into the building and decided to leave because he was told they couldn't train on the premises because there was no supervision.
"It's disappointing," Moore told a small group of reporters from his SUV as he left the grounds. "I knew I wouldn't be able to do some things because it's not as organized as it's going to be, but I did think I'd have access to the facilities."
The NFL issued a statement Tuesday indicating players wouldn't be allowed to work out. The league said the players "are being treated with courtesy and respect ... We do not believe it's appropriate for football activities to take place until there are further rulings from the court."
Aside from Moore, D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Jerricho Cotchery, Mike DeVito, David Harris and Bart Scott showed up at the facility -- and they all left within about 30 minutes.
None of the players said they were treated rudely by team employees. They described the atmosphere as eerily quiet; they felt like strangers in their own home. No coaches were present, they said. They saw only two team officials, director of player development Dave Szott and director of football administration Ari Nissim.
"Everything was shut off," Cotchery said. "The locker room is open, but as far as everything else, you can't do anything."
Ferguson, who has a league-high $750,000 workout bonus, believes his appearance should count toward the bonus even though he wasn't allowed to work out.
"Oh, most definitely," said Ferguson, who must participate in 85 percent of the offseason workouts to collect. "I made every opportunity to avail myself to work out. But at this time I wasn't afforded that opportunity."
Cotchery, who underwent back surgery in February, came to rehab his injury.
"I'm a big cold tub guy and I hadn't been in a cold tub in a while," said Cotchery, who has been receiving physical therapy at a private practice in New Jersey. "I wanted to come in and hop in the cold tub. I'm disappointed I wasn't able to do that."
It made for a strange day. About a dozen reporters camped out about a quarter-mile from the entrance to the facility, waiting at a stop sign for players as they drove by. The only player who didn't agree to be interviewed was Scott, who whizzed by in his white Ferrari.
Moore, who has been emailing players to keep them abreast of the developments, said he felt "uncomfortable" as soon as he walked into the building. He found it odd that the security guard at the entrance gate had to radio the main building to inform the powers-that-be that a player was entering.
"When I got into this game, I had security guards, when I got cut, that didn't let me in," said Moore, one of the Jets' longest-tenured players. "You'd get released and your [access] code wouldn't work. But being under contract and coming to a place you come to every day ... It's kind of weird not to have access to the facilities like you normally do.
"You can't speak to anybody and everybody is hiding out. Nobody is available and nobody is walking the halls, and nobody is there to be seen. It's awkward that it's come to this."
Rich Cimini covers the Jets for ESPNNewYork.com.