Bradley Handwerger / WWLTV.com Sports Writer
METAIRIE, La. ― With a deep orange moon rising over the right field wall at Zephyr Field, the Saints’ offense began pounding the team’s defense in a charity softball event put together by Heath Evans.
For now, it’s likely the only official field they’ll be on as the NFL continues its more than two-month lockout of the players.
And that’s topic cast a pall over proceedings Tuesday night when the players were gathered for good.
The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision for a permanent stay of the lockout “took the wind out of” the players’ sails, Evans said. But the fight isn’t over.
“…Are we going to lay down and quit? No,” Evans said. “This is a fight. We’ve known about this for two years. We’ve talked over this and over this. We’re going to get back on the field. We just got to do it the right way.”
Doing the right way, for now, means going through the courts, the players said.
George Atallah, spokesman for the former NFL Players Association, attended Tuesday night’s charity affair and said the players believe the rule of the land resides with them, not the owners.
“We look at it as if we’ve got the facts of the law on our side,” Atallah said. “We really believe that.”
He added, “We believe we still have a strong case against the lockout and we’re going to continue to fight.”
For the third time since February, mediation sessions ended without a formal agreement on a collective bargaining agreement (CBA). And while mediation is scheduled to commence again after the June 3 appeal of Judge Susan Nelson’s enjoinment of the lockout, Saints quarterback Drew Brees doesn’t believe much will change.
“It was evident very early on in those mediation sessions prior to the lockout that the owners’ mentality was take it or leave it, there’s not negotiation here. This is our offer,” Brees said, using much of the same rhetoric that has been spoken for much of the past two months.
Should the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals side with the owners, question becomes how long can the players stick together.
Pay checks will begin to be missed beginning in late July or early August when training camps normally begin.
Free agent safety Roman Harper doesn’t think that will be a problem.
“We’ve got to stick together,” Harper said. “Don’t turn your back on anybody. It’s a process. Understand nothing happens over night. This United States wasn’t built overnight.”