Cowboys players can't use facility

Updated: April 27, 2011, 9:22 AM ET
By Calvin Watkins | ESPNDallas.com

ARLINGTON, Texas -- With the lockout lifted by a judge and more legal issues forthcoming, five Dallas Cowboys players walked into the Valley Ranch complex on Tuesday but were not allowed to work out.

There were at least eight Cowboys players including two starters who were seen going to the complex.

Victor Butler, Igor Olshansky and Josh Brent arrived at the complex on Tuesday afternoon. The three players joined Miles Austin, Stephen McGee, Chris Gronkowski, Phil Costa and Sam Young who came in during the morning.

Austin stayed for about five minutes before waving to a reporter as he drove out of the complex around 11:30 a.m. CT. McGee was the first to arrive at 9:11 a.m. None of the players were allowed to use the weight room.

"I think most of the players feel like they want to play," said Gronkowski, who went to a Gold's Gym to work out with Costa after leaving the Cowboys complex. "We want to be back and on the field."

That may take some time.

The NFL issued a statement Tuesday indicating players would not be allowed to work out at team facilities.

"We are going to proceed in an orderly way that is fair to the teams and players and complies with court orders," the statement read. "Players are being treated with courtesy and respect at club facilities. We do not believe it is appropriate for football activities to take place until there are further rulings from the court. Under the last set of proposals made to the NFLPA, teams wouldn't even be into offseason programs yet. We need a few days to sort this out, as NFLPA attorney Jim Quinn indicated last night."

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who has attended several of the federal mediation sessions because he's a member of the management council, wants to sit down with player officials soon, but it might not happen until next month.

"I don't think any of the dialogue, publicly, from our prospective is constructive," Jones said during a news conference at Cowboys Stadium. "I am very much a proponent of face-to-face, sitting down negotiating and keeping it in the framework where I've seen most successful negotiations happen all my life, in football or otherwise. That's so you can be candid and feel a certain security in some of the things that you say, and I think that's important in this process."

Prior to his news conference, Jones said he spoke with league officials to make sure he was allowed to talk about labor issues. In the past, league officials -- especially members of the management council -- weren't permitted to speak on labor discussions.

Last month after one session, SI.com reported that Jones offended players during negotiations. Jones said it was a misunderstanding and he was in no way trying to disrespect the players.

With the league needing questions answered, it is the high-profile Jones trying to come to grips with how this NFL might shape up. Currently, there is some confusion regarding how the business of the NFL should be run.

"We're evolving as a league," Jones said. "We've asked for some hearings and some rulings from the existing judge that ruled yesterday, as well as anticipating, if need be, of going to the appellate area. And that might make a difference on how we can count on free agents in the immediate future, both for college and for the players that are in the league right now."

Several NFL players get workout bonuses for completing a program assigned by their individual teams. If those players don't complete a certain percentage of the workouts, they don't get the bonus. Austin, for instance, stands to lose $500,000 of his base salary if he doesn't complete the program.

DeMarcus Ware is scheduled to earn $500,000 in bonus money if he completes the workout program. Some players attended NFL facilities, when allowed to, so they could try and comply with the workout portions of their contracts.

The bulk of NFL teams, including the Cowboys, denied weight room access to players Tuesday.

"We are in the process of determining throughout the league as to just how we will proceed," Jones said. "When we'll open the new year. We don't have it across the league, we have not started yet, a new football year. So we have not done that."

Calvin Watkins covers the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com.

Calvin Watkins joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He's covered the Cowboys since 2006 and also has covered colleges, boxing and high school sports.

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