OWINGS MILLS – The federal court decision granting the players’ request to halt the NFL lockout didn’t trigger a stampede of players returning to work at the Baltimore Ravens’ training complex Tuesday.
It was exactly the opposite. No players opted to return to the Ravens’ team headquarters while awaiting word on whether the owners will be granted a stay of the ruling pending their appeal to the Eighth Circuit Court in St. Louis.
Under the court order from Judge Susan Richard Nelson, players had to be allowed entrance to team facilities and can speak to coaches and team officials. However, they weren’t allowed to lift weights or use training rooms.
"Well, everything that has transpired was to be expected," cornerback Chris Carr said in an email to Ravens24x7.com. "I would have been surprised otherwise. I am not under contract so I will not be going to any facility. Of course, as a free agent you would like to hit free agency before the draft, but you need rules in place for that to happen. As of right now, I am just seeing if they will grant a stay or not."
An awkward, unique situation unfolded around the NFL as handfuls of players briefly returned to work, including several New York Jets as well as players from the Carolina Panthers, Miami Dolphins, Washington Redskins, Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
"We are going to proceed in an orderly way that is fair to the teams and players and complies with court orders," league spokesman Greg Aiello said in an email. "Players are being treated with courtesy and respect at club facilities. We do not believe it is appropriate for football activities to take place until there are further rulings from the court.
"Under the last set of proposals made to the NFLPA, teams wouldn’t even be into offseason programs yet. We need a few days to sort this out, as NFLPA attorney Jim Quinn indicated."
Nelson has given the players until this morning to respond to the league’s motion.
"When my agent told me about the injunction, I wasn’t that excited," Ravens cornerback Fabian Washington said in a telephone interview from Orlando, Fla. "I was like, ‘OK, you know the owners will appeal.’ I was happy we won the first step because that’s always a good thing. I definitely knew the owners will take the next step. It’s got to play out. It’s April. There’s no panic."
Washington said the majority of the Ravens are spread out across the country and he hasn’t heard of any players planning to report to work.
"Some guys are thinking about workout bonuses and think if they show up at the facility that should count as them being there," Washington said. "From what I hear, a couple guys showed up at facilities [around the NFL] and were allowed in the building, but they weren’t allowed to work out.
"If you don’t have a workout bonus, it’s pretty pointless to show up. Very few of our guys are even in town. Guys are getting it in wherever they are. Nobody is taking it lightly."
Several players, including quarterback Joe Flacco, tight ends Todd Heap, Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta and wide receivers Anquan Boldin, Derrick Mason and Justin Harper are working out in Arizona this week.
"We’re all taking the offseason serious, we’re just not at the facility," Washington said. "You’ve got to do it independently. We’re all professionals. It’s your job. If you take this as a vacation, that’s up to you. We’ve got to work as if we’re preparing for the season. Most guys around the league are taking that approach."
Washington said he was angry when he heard reports last week that a splinter group of players was seeking other representation, but was relieved that didn’t materialize as a major development.
"I said this before the lockout. It’s rough on the guys who went undrafted and didn’t go in the first round like myself and aren’t financially stable," he said. "If they just hang in there, it’s going to be better for all players. It’s going to help in the long run."