Vikings open doors, but players not allowed to use facility yet
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The Minnesota Vikings welcomed players to their Winter Park training facility on Tuesday morning, but they're not letting anyone resume workouts there yet.
That was the word from backup linebacker Erin Henderson, who was spotted entering the building around 10 a.m. Tuesday, a day after a federal judge lifted the lockout NFL owners had imposed on March 11 and Vikings player representative Ben Leber told teammates to feel free to report to work.
"Everything went fine," said Henderson, who was in good spirits as he spoke with reporters. "They've got a couple more rules and regulations they're trying to figure out and get taken care of before they start letting people actually train and work out and different things like that."
Henderson was in the building for about 40 minutes. He told reporters before entering he planned to use the cold tub, but that didn't happen.
"I don't really know what they are going to say or not going to say," Henderson said before going into the building. "I hope I'm not crossing any lines or making anybody upset. That's not what I'm here to do or try to do at all in any way, shape or form. If it does cause a rift, then I'll take care of that later. But I'm just here trying to come to work like anybody else."
Coach Leslie Frazier said Henderson was the only player he saw and they had a "very brief conversation."
Similar situations played out at NFL facilities across the country as teams, under advisement from the NFL Management Council, tried to navigate uncertain waters. The league is trying to secure a stay of Monday's ruling while its appeal is heard, and U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson told the decertified players' association they have until 9 a.m. Wednesday to respond to that request.
The players responded by asking the judge to force NFL owners to immediately begin the 2011 league year -- including free agency and trades -- and Nelson asked owners to respond to that request by 5 p.m. Wednesday.
"The fact of the matter is here we sit with the lockout at the current moment being lifted, and it appears that everybody's sort of trying to catch their breath now and try to understand everything for what it is," Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway said in an interview on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
"I think now we're going to wait until (Wednesday) to see if there's going to be a stay that's granted. So, we're sort of sitting here waiting like everybody else. I didn't put anybody in a precarious situation by trying to go into the facility (Tuesday), because just with the situation as it is, there's so many things up in the air. I just think it'd be better to wait."
Several other cars turned into the players' parking lot as reporters staked out the facility's driveway, but staff members routinely park there when players aren't around. The only player identified was Henderson, who has been working out with his brother, fellow Vikings linebacker E.J. Henderson, at a nearby gym during the lockout.
Asked before entering the building how weird the situation is, Henderson said, "Not weird to me at all. Actually, if y'all wasn't out there, I would have already been in there talking and doing the regular thing I usually do, probably. So, it's not really that weird to me. Hopefully, it's not weird once I go inside."