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Tampa Bay Buccaneers players not headed back to work — yet

TAMPA — The NFL lockout may have ended, but no players bothered to see if their keys worked Tuesday at One Buc Place.

In fact, Bucs center Jeff Faine, the team's union representative, did not receive any calls from teammates asking whether they should return to work after U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson on Monday ordered an end to the 45-day work stoppage.

A team official confirmed that players would have been allowed entrance to the Bucs facility, but it was unclear whether they would have been permitted access to the strength and conditioning room, locker room or practice fields.

Faine said his advice to Bucs players would have been to make their own decisions about returning to work, but despite the judge's ruling, he does not believe the issue is resolved.

"To be honest, I'm a little surprised at that," Faine said. "No one reached out at all so we didn't really have to cross that road of telling somebody what they should do. But my message would've been do what you have to do.

"Everybody has their own personal situations, whether it's bonuses or whatnot, and if they feel they need to show up, that's fine. My personal opinion is that it's not going to do a thing. This thing is going to be won in the courts. There's still a long road in front of us.

"I know the general perception is let's go sing Kumbaya. We won and all that. But at the end of the day, they're appealing it. They're appealing it right now. This this is a positive step, but nobody has won in this situation."

Though some players in other NFL cities attempted to return to work Tuesday, Faine said it's premature for anyone to declare victory in the labor situation.

"It's just irritating, the situation," Faine said. "I'm not against the guys who are doing it, but nothing is figured out yet. It's got to go through due process and take their path and see what happens.

"I'm usually an optimist in most situations, with the exception of business. I'm always a pessimist until the deal is done and the money is in hand. It's not easy for me to be celebrating a win when we're not winning and things aren't as status quo as they should be."

The story is about the same around the league, where players and owners are stuck in limbo.

"It drives me insane, that's what it does," said Chicago offensive tackle J'Marcus Webb, who was told he and a handful of other Bears couldn't use the team's weight room. "I'm trying to eat healthy and work out, do my job and right now I'm just stuck at home working out and watching cartoons all day.

"What's up with that? Let me get back to what I do best."

That could take a while. The 2011 season, and the business dealings between 32 teams and their thousands of players, is in a holding pattern. With more court fights and appeals expected, the NFL said it needed "a few days to sort this out" and provide some rules for everyone to follow.

"We are in the process of determining throughout the league as to just how we'll proceed and when we'll open the new year across the league, the new football year," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. "We have not done that."

At least the draft will be held this week, even if free agency and personnel swaps are up in the air.

In one of the oddest days in NFL history, players showed up at their team headquarters and most were told that they were welcome to come inside as long as they didn't participate in any sort of "football activities."

Most left within minutes with more questions than answers about where the $9 billion business is headed. And there was no consistency: some teams allowed players to work out (Giants) while others turned them away altogether (Bills).

No rules, not yet. Just uncertainty.

In a question-and-answer memo distributed by the NFLPA and obtained by the Associated Press, free agents were told they can contact teams and shop their services, putting pressure on the NFL to set up a free agency system that complies with antitrust laws.

The document also told players that teams are responsible for care of any football-related injury, meaning it's "safer for players to work out on club property."

HAYNESWORTH CHARGED: Redskins defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth was formally charged with misdemeanor sexual abuse for allegedly fondling his server's breast at a Washington hotel.

Information from Times wires was used in this report.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers players not headed back to work — yet 04/26/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 26, 2011 8:38pm]
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