Packers stay away from Lambeau despite ruling to end NFL lockout
GREEN BAY The gate to the players’ parking lot at Lambeau Field was wide open early Tuesday morning after a court decision lifted the NFL lockout. The Green Bay Packers stayed away.
Even if players had returned to Lambeau, it’s not like they would have truly gotten back to work.
Packers president and CEO Mark Murphy said he wasn’t aware of any players showing up at Lambeau after a federal judge issued an injunction Monday that ended—at least for now—a lockout imposed by the owners.
“No, we have not heard of any players showing up,” Murphy said. “We were prepared if they did. But I think most of the players are out of town.”
In keeping with a policy followed by most NFL teams Tuesday, the Packers planned to allow players back into the building—but not let them work out there, at least not yet.
“What we talked about was, invite them in, sit down with them, just explain the situation that we’ve requested a stay,” Murphy said. “We’ll know in a couple days, (we) just need a little more clarity from the court.”
The owners are appealing the decision of U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson. They’re also seeking a stay that essentially would keep the lockout in place while the ruling is under appeal.
Murphy said owners don’t want to resume league business if another shutdown is looming. Ideally, he said, owners prefer that the two sides agree on a new collective bargaining agreement before the league goes back to business at all.
“Hopefully, we’ll get the stay, and I think that would provide more order,” Murphy said. “It would be a little chaotic if you start the league year, and then unstart it in two months.”
Murphy, a former NFL player who has a law degree from Georgetown and once worked for the players’ union, says both sides’ images take a hit during a labor dispute.
“I think, having been through a couple of these in the past, I don’t think fans really feel good about players or owners in this situation,” Murphy said. “Unfortunately, when you get out of the collective bargaining realm and into litigation, both sides lose control over timing, decisions.
“It’s really in the hands of lawyers and then ultimately judges, court of appeals. That’s why for us, the best scenario is a comprehensive collective bargaining agreement that addresses anything.”
Even amid all the legal struggles, Murphy still says the two sides still can work out a deal.
“I think in the most recent round of mediation, you were so close to a decision from Judge Nelson, I think there was a sense on the players’ side, ‘Well, let’s wait and see, we think we’re going to have a positive ruling,’” Murphy said. “From our perspective, I think the mediation before the federal mediation service was very productive. I think any time that we’re together and talking with the players, that’s a positive. But in order for us to ultimately get where we want, we’re going to have to start really negotiating and getting back to collective bargaining.”
Many Packers players indicated on their Twitter accounts that they were out of town or working out elsewhere Tuesday. Backup tight end Tom Crabtree joked that he might do a few tire-spinning “doughnuts” with his car in the Lambeau parking lot Tuesday—a tweet that even got the attention of Murphy’s family.
“My son sent a text saying that he’d seen Tom Crabtree had tweeted that—you probably saw the same thing—he’d be doing doughnuts in the parking lot,” Murphy said. “I did not see any doughnuts in the parking lot.”