Lions players, coaches at golf event
They couldn't shoot the breeze about much else at the Detroit Lions Invitational, which benefits the team's charities, because NFL employees aren't allowed to communicate with players about football-related matters during the lockout.
"Yeah," Stafford acknowledged. "But we're friends anyway, so it's not like we talk football all the time."
The locked-out Lions gathered en masse with their coaches and team executives for the first time since the day after their season ended five months ago.
Team president Tom Lewand, general manager Martin Mayhew, coach Jim Schwartz and some of his assistants exchanged pleasantries and embraces with players on an awkward day at the TPC of Michigan -- just down the street from Lions headquarters.
"Obviously, our interactions will be limited and will be appropriate," Lewand said. "We appreciate them for what they're doing by coming out here and helping the cause and also appreciate what they're doing to get ready for the season.
"That's a great thing. Obviously, we won't be talking to them about that part of it."
The Lions are getting together this week, for the second time this offseason for player-organized workouts, at Detroit Country Day School.
Schwartz said he has looked at online photos and watched video of his players working out, adding he hasn't paid much attention otherwise.
"I think there's only so much that you can do without coaches on the field, I think we all know that," Schwartz said. "But any time players get together, that's a good thing. Anytime quarterbacks are throwing to receivers, anytime that you're working out next to one of your teammates, I think that can't help but help things."
U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson has scheduled a hearing on the owners' motion to dismiss an antitrust lawsuit from a group of players for Sept. 12 -- four days after the regular season is scheduled to start. The NFL and its players held settlement discussions in Chicago last week, but there's no sign a lockout-ending collective bargaining agreement is imminent.
"Anytime people are talking, that's productive," Lewand said. "When they're talking to each other and not publicly, that's even more productive.
"The idea of people being around a negotiating table is far preferable to them being around a courthouse. The more that can happen, the better chance we can have success."
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press
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