A trio of highly motivated, well-conditioned NFL athletes were among a few dozen football players sweating through triple-digit heat indexes stuck over Minnesota this week, but despite their passion for being in top physical condition, Larry Fitzgerald, Visanthe Shiancoe and Brian Robison are all ready for the NFL lockout to end and training camps to commence.
"Talking to my player reps, they said by the end of the week they feel confident that things will be moving in the right direction and then the legal system has to take its course in terms of lawyers drawing papers and things," Fitzgerald said after one of his famous workouts this week at the University of Minnesota campus. "Hopefully next week we'll be able to get back on the field. We need to, to get into free agency and address some of the needs that we have on our ball club. But I'm really excited and I know everybody else that's on an NFL roster is really excited, and fans mostly are excited."
Fitzgerald is a Minnesota native who has turned himself in a Pro Bowl wide receiver with the Arizona Cardinals through hard worked learned as a Minnesota Vikings ballboy during the days when Cris Carter and Randy Moss were highlighting the NFL receiving ranks. One of Carter's trainers from those days, Bill Welle, is now the conditioning expert running Fitzgerald's physical grind through the heat and humidity stalled over Minnesota this week.
Robison is a Texas native who signed a three-year, $14.1 million contract with the Vikings before the lockout, and he also happens to be one of the 10 plaintiffs in the Brady v. NFL antitrust lawsuit filed on behalf of the players. As such, Robison has some insight into the progress of the labor impasse and, like many, he believes a resolution is near – very near.
"If you ask me if it's going to get done on Thursday, I have no clue, but I'm definitely confident that something's going to get done soon," Robison said earlier this week, referring to the possibility that NFL owners could vote to accept the terms drafted in the latest proposed collective bargaining agreement. "That's pretty much the whole reason why I came back up here [to Minnesota], because I felt like we were getting close. Hopefully it's closer than what everyone thinks."
Everything seems to be in line for a labor deal to be agreed upon by the end of the week, but Robison knows nothing is final until the required signatures are placed on the proper documents.
"We've had a couple of conference calls, as you know through Twitter and all that. We've talked about the ifs, ands and buts and stuff like that. Nothing's in stone right now. Obviously they're going to keep in touch with us and let us know how things are going on basically a daily basis," Robison said. "It's one of those things where we've probably had two or three conference calls in the last week. They're just going to keep talking to us and probably let us know down the road what happens. Hopefully we'll get a settlement and stuff like that and we won't have to worry about it."
The potential end to the lockout is one of the reasons Robison returned to Minnesota this week after working out in Houston for most of the offseason. Shiancoe made his way west from his Baltimore-area workouts, but he's tired of hearing about the lockout and just wants to know when training camp will start.
"I'm waiting. Some people say camp is going to be the 27th, some people say the 31st. Some people say the first. I don't know. I'm tired of listening to that [crap]," he said. "Holler at me when it's time to go. I don't want to hear none of that other stuff. I don't want to hear, ‘OK, well we think.' I don't want to hear that [crap] no more. Let me know when it's time. When it's time, I'm ready to grind."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
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