When six Ravens tested the NFL's tenuous labor peace early Friday, they found an open door and a sense of normalcy. But before night fell, the peace was shattered and the door closed.
The league won a temporary administrative stay from the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday night, restoring the lockout at least through the weekend. The three-person appellate court will listen to arguments next week on the NFL's request to overturn the decision of a federal court in Minneapolis that the lockout was illegal.
The circuit court issued the stay off a 2-1 vote Friday. Thanks to Twitter, reaction was swift and sarcastic.
Said Ravens wide-out Derrick Mason in a tweet: "See what happened when u boo goodell! He too(k) his football and went home…lol."
Mason had recently criticized NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for having greater concern about drug testing than reaching a collective bargaining agreement with players. He found some vindication in the fact Goodell was greeted with boos at the start of the draft on Thursday night.
"Hey, listen, when you are part of a work stoppage, and the fans feel that you were one of the main culprits in it and you hadn't tried to work it out, you're going to get booed," Mason said after a two-hour visit to the Ravens' facility. "Probably some of the players would've gotten booed, I don't know. …
"He got booed, but I'm pretty sure [when] he walked, he smiled and he laughed. I don't know if it affected him or not, but he acts like it didn't. I think people are starting to see what I saw."
Five days after federal judge Susan Nelson ruled the lockout illegal and said the NFL must return to the business of football, the NFL opened its doors to players Friday for visits with coaches and trainers, as well as workouts.
"We will operate as the league allows us to operate," Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said. "That's the way we have to go about doing our business. When the league allows things to happen, we will let them happen. When the league doesn't allow things to happen, we won't allow them to happen. We will follow the procedures to the letter of the law."
Defensive end Cory Redding, an eight-year veteran, called his early-morning visit "a good reunion" with equipment and training room staff. Other players who stopped at the facility were cornerback Domonique Foxworth, tackles Oniel Cousins and Ramon Harewood, and defensive end Paul Kruger.
Foxworth said his visit was "almost celebratory," but his optimism was tempered by the reality of the league's appeal.
"I'm waiting to see what they do to us," he said when asked about what rules might apply to a new league year. "You can see where my expectations are by that statement. … As many curveballs as they've thrown at us in this situation, I don't feel 100 percent confident with what's going to happen."
Mason, who arrived in Baltimore on Thursday night after a series of workouts with quarterback Joe Flacco and tight end Todd Heap in Arizona, was bracing for the continued upheaval even before the news hit.
"It changes like the wind," he said. "One day you hear one thing, [another] day you hear another, so you try not to pay attention to it until something very significant happens like it did the other day. … Hopefully, everyone's been working out on their own. The last thing you want is [if] a judge makes a ruling and you get caught … not paying attention, and now you've got to be thrust into something. You want to make sure you stay in condition. This is your job. You're your own business, so take care of yourself."