At least since the NFL opted out of the last CBA, it was clear to all parties involved that this whole labor mess would go to litigation. It was also clear early on that the NFLPA would likely decertify, that the NFL would likely lock out its players and that the former NFLPA would ask for injunctive relief if this were to happen.
It happened, and the players got their injunction. I think it's not unrealistic to expect that both sides would have plans in place for such a scenario. Apparently, they don't.
After the break, find out just how differently individual teams and individual players are handling this situation.
While the NFL has told the teams to allow access to the building but not to allow players to use the facilities pending the results of the stay the NFL has requested from Judge Nelson, here's what some teams are actually doing:
- The Giants apparently allowed their players to work out yesterday. Ed Valentine from Big Blue View writes that Giants players were allowed to meet with coaches and use the workout facilities. But that only lasted for one day. Apparently the Giants are back to toeing the company line according to team spokesman Pat Hanlon: "We have decided that our workout and training rooms will be closed until we get clarification from the pending challenges to the court’s decision."
- The Browns allowed players entrance to parts of their building, but security cut off other parts of the building. Players were not allowed to work out, were not given playbooks and were not permitted to have any contact with coaches or the front office, according to Chris Pokorny of the Browns Dawgs By Nature site.
- The Seahawks simply refused to let their players enter any part of the team facilities, writes the Seattle Times.
- The Cowboys let the players into their facilities but kept the workout facility closed, reports the DMN.
The players were told by their NFLPA representatives to show up to work, as the teams would be in violation of the judge's orders if they blocked them from entering the facilities.
- The Steelers' union reps, safety Ryan Clark and backup quarterback Charlie Batch, both showed up at their team facilities as per the union instructions, spoke to the head coach, the position coach and the team president, but did not work out.
- The Colts' union rep, Jeff Saturday, told his teammates to stay away from the player facilities for now. The Eagles and Falcons players all collectively stayed away from their team facilities. So much for doing what the union told you to do.
- The Titans Rennie Curran tweeted that he "Drove all the way out in the rain only to find out no workout, coaches, playbook or nothin. Nobody is really prepared for this situation"
Jets guard Brandon Moore showed up at the Jets facility Tuesday, with nothing to do. "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," Moore told the New York Post.
NFL Players Association spokesman George Atallah was quick to blame the league for the chaos: "The owners didn't seem to have a plan in place for an injunction. We were in a situation today where there were no uniform rules across the league," Atallah said. Well, the union certainly didn't help matters with their approach either.
The NFL itself of course is in a little bit of a legal limbo. It asked asked Judge Nelson for a stay on her ruling that would allow the lockout to continue while the NFL's coming appeal is considered. Her ruling on the stay should come in today, so that might improve the situation somewhat.
The NFL's lawyer, Jeff Pash, offered this assessment of the situation: "We’re trying to determine what’s the scope of the order. We’ve asked for a stay. If that stay is given, either by the trial judge or by the court of appeals, that would affect what happens in the facilities. We’re going to take it one step at a time in an orderly way, in a way that’s fair and evenhanded for the players and all 32 clubs. But our commitment is to comply with the orders." Not a lot of order in what the NFL teams were doing on the first day of the injunction, from where I sit.
Regardless of how you look at this, someone dropped the ball on this one. And I don't even care who. This clearly feels like amateur night at the Apollo, but not on a good night.
If the NFL and the former NFLPA can't get their members aligned on a simple thing like this - when they've had literally years to prepare for such an eventuality - I am losing faith quickly in their ability to work out something as complex as a CBA on time.