Despite the lockout being temporarily lifted, the Atlanta Falcons elected to stay away from the team’s facilities on Tuesday.
“There are no plans to return to the facilities of which I am aware,” Falcons linebacker Coy Wire wrote in a text to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He is the team’s player representative.
Falcons wide receiver Roddy White also said that he wasn’t sure what the players would do.
No one showed up and nobody was expected to report, according to a team spokesperson.
The player’s parking lot was empty.
Some players around the league did report for work.
Buffalo defensive back Leodis McKelvin, who’s from Waycross, told the Associated Press that he was stopped at a security desk and that a team official told him that head coach Chan Gailey would contact him and the rest of the players to let them know when they’d be allowed to report.
In Pittsburgh, Ryan Clark, the team’s union player representative, and backup quarterback Charlie Batch, a member of the executive council of the NFL Players Association, reported for work. They spoke with head coach Mike Tomlin. Clark stayed for about an hour and Batch stayed longer, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Steelers president Art Rooney II said the league has instructed owners that no contract negotiations or business discussions with players will be allowed during this period, even though the lockout has been lifted.
The league will inform the teams, possibly as early as Monday, when the calendar year is starting.
The league is appealing the decision and is fighting an uphill legal battle to get District Court Judge Susan Richard Nelson to grant a stay of her own decision.
“It’s a tough hurdle for the league to reach here,” said attorney David Scupp, who’s with Constantine Cannon, a New York law firm. “They’ve got to show that there is a likelihood of success on the merits in the Eight Circuit or that they would be irreparably harmed absent the stay. So, if she agrees with that, she probably wouldn’t have granted the preliminary injunction in the first place. It’s going to be tough to get Judge Nelson to grant the stay. I don’t think she’s going to do it.”
Then the league will seek to get the Eighth Circuit to grant the stay pending their appeal. If a stay is granted the lockout would remain in place until the appeal is heard.
“Perhaps, they’ll have a more receptive audience with the Eighth Circuit, but it’s tough to predict how the Eighth Circuit will react to a stay and then the appeal,” said Scupp, who has written several scholarly papers on pro sports and antitrust law. “The NFL has to make a convincing showing that they are irreparably harmed.”
–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog