BOSTON — Members of the Patriots had no interest in reporting to Gillette Stadium on Tuesday, despite the fact that the NFL has reopened its doors on a partial basis.
Despite Monday's court ruling, there was still plenty of uncertainty regarding the league's modus operandi. Because of that, Patriots player rep Matt Light (although, nowadays, he prefers the term, "player advocate," perhaps due to the decertification of the union) has advised his teammates to refrain from heading to the facility.
Rather, the Patriots will wait and see how the court proceedings continue to play out. If the owners are granted a "stay" to keep the lockout intact until the conclusion of the appeal process, the NFL will again close its doors. The stay could conceivably be granted at any moment.
"I won't head to Foxboro until everything is open," defensive lineman Vince Wilfork said. "I don't think that's the right play in this situation. That's just me. A lot of people may think differently. I won't be the one. After [Wilfork's charity] event [Thursday], Friday morning, I've got a flight back to Florida to see my kids, and that's where I'll be until all of this stuff is over."
A smattering of players reported to team facilities across the league Tuesday, but they experienced varying results, according to multiple reports. However, the Patriots didn't bother, since many teams weren't allowing players to use the weight rooms for insurance purposes, according to reports.
It's also an awkward position for the players — especially the younger ones — who want to stay on the same page as their teammates. They don't want to go against the grain and create a rift in the locker room.
"You don't want to be put in an awkward situation where you don't know if you should talk to people, you don't know if you should be in there," quarterback Brian Hoyer said. "I think you just give it some time and let it clear itself up because, obviously, it's going to go through the stay, and the appeal and that stuff. We could be back right where we were a couple days ago anyway. I think I'll wait and see and then go from there. It's good to have Matt [Light] and these guys around to ask questions to because otherwise you're kind of just left in the dark and you hear what everybody else hears. Matt is a good resource. I think we'll just wait and see what happens."
The players are faced with a lot of questions, and they've received advice from teammates, friends in the league and their agents. So far, each player has had to make the decision on their own due to the ramifications of offseason workouts bonuses, but even those might not come into play during this period of labor limbo.
"Quite frankly," Light said, "guys are wondering, 'Do I need to get on a plane today? How do I proceed? What's going to happen as far as the overall reporting to the individual team?' And I can't give them answers to all of those things, but hopefully later on [after Tuesday's conference call], I'll have some more for them."
NFLPA executive Pete Kendall didn't have one strict mode of advice for the players and said it will be determined on a team-by-team basis for the time being. Eventually, Kendall believed, the disbanded players union will have a more defined message on the subject.
"A lot of people anticipate there will be direction or advice, whether it's from their agents or the association," Kendall said. "That being said, if the players don't show up today, I would imagine that they would begin showing up in short order, barring a stay."