Players can report on Tuesday, but will any Vikings show up to work?
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The NFL's doors aren't open for business yet. But for the first time since the players' association decertified and owners locked out their workforce on March 11, players will be allowed inside team facilities on Tuesday morning.
Hours after a federal judge lifted the lockout on Monday, linebacker Ben Leber -- the Minnesota Vikings' player representative and one of 10 plaintiffs in the still-pending lawsuit filed against the league last month -- told multiple media outlets he is informing teammates they can show up to Winter Park, and league spokesman Greg Aiello confirmed players will be allowed to report to work.
"If a player comes to the facility, he will be treated courteously and with respect," Aiello said in an e-mail.
It wasn't clear how many Vikings players, if any, would show up on Tuesday. ESPN reported the NFL Management Council told teams to let players enter their facilities but recommended keeping weight rooms closed.
Still, Pittsburgh Steelers player rep Ryan Clark told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette he is urging players to report at 8 a.m. Tuesday, as they normally would during the offseason, and there were indications players from other teams planned to do the same.
"I really think that it's in the best interest of the players, because this is such a sensitive time, to stay back and let the dust settle," Leber told The Associated Press. "The way I understand it is we're in a 'Wild West' right now. Football is back to business, but guess what? There's no rules. There's a lot of positive to that, but there's also a lot of negatives."
The league has filed a motion for an expedited stay with U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson, who lifted the lockout in an 89-page opinion, and a notice of appeal with the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis in hopes of putting Nelson's ruling on hold until the appeals process plays out.
For now, the transaction freeze and no-contact rules imposed by the lockout remain in effect. If both of the NFL's attempts to stave off the injunction fail, Nelson could order the 2011 league year to begin within days.
That would make for one of the most hectic weeks in football history. The NFL Draft begins on Thursday night.
One other confusing point: the NFL remains in its 2010 league year. So, although Leber told NFL Network he isn't allowed at the Vikings' facility because he's a free agent, he and 18 other players who finished last season on the roster technically remain under contract.
That likely means players' 2011 workout bonuses aren't in any jeopardy if they fail to report either. When the lockout began, the league was in the midst of the annual postseason period in which no organized workouts are allowed at team facilities.