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Lockout Limbo: Confusion Reigns at Halas Hall

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Lockout Limbo: Confusion Reigns at Halas Hall

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NEW ORLEANS, LA - MARCH 21: Chicago Bears head coach Lovey Smith attends the NFL Annual Meetings at the Roosevelt Hotel on March 21, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Despite a NFL owners imposed lockout in effect since March 12 the league is conducting its annual owners meeting in New Orleans. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Lovey Smith

In any other context, today would be a normal, off-season day at Halas Hall. Robbie Gould stopped by. So did Matt Toeina and Israel Idonije. Reporters were on hand, as was Lovie Smith, Mike Martz and Jerry Angelo. J'Marcus Webb and Anthony Adams were given the organization's Piccolo Award, given to players who show Brian Piccolo's qualities of courage, loyalty, teamwork, dedication and sense of humor.

But the day after a federal judge lifted the NFL's lockout, this is anything but business as usual.

Gould, Toeina and Idonije were allowed in the building, but not given access to the weight room or any other training facilities. They left after a few minutes after being told by Bears president Ted Phillips that they were still waiting on clarification from the NFL on how to proceed. The NFL released a statement saying that they needed to sort this all out.

Other players, like Chris Harris, Devin Hester and Matt Forte, just worked out at their regular training spots in Charlotte, N.C., and in Florida. Harris explained why he didn't head back to Chicago the second the lockout was lifted:

I had a hunch the owners would handle things this way. There’s no point in spending $800 on a round-trip plane ticket to Chicago, only to be locked out of where I planned to go. I’m sorry, but I’m not going to leave my kids and pregnant wife behind in Charlotte so I can visit the place I conduct my business at and see that the actual locks haven’t been lifted off a situation that’s supposed to have been unlocked.
 

The players who did show up wanted to prove that they did, indeed, just want to play. This backs up everything that they've said over the course of collective-bargaining agreement negotiations. Of course, there's also money on the line. Most players have workout bonuses written into their contract, and theoretically, with the lockout lifted, reporting means that they are eligible for the bonus. 

This weird limbo will continue until the appeals court rules on a stay, meaning that the lockout would be put back in place until the appeals court heard the NFL's appeal, and until the NFL can cobble together rules for teams to handle the limbo.

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