NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Players were met by what they called "excessive" security Thursday when they arrived at the Tennessee Titans practice facility when they attempted to report under a federal judge's ruling to lift the NFL lockout.
Two armed off-duty police officers in uniform joined the Titans director of security, Steve Berk, at the only open side gate to the facility Thursday. The main gate remains chained and locked as it has since the NFL lockout began March 12. A member of the team's security detail is also stationed at the player's entrance into the building.
"It's a little excessive," right guard Jake Scott, the Titans' players representative, said of the security presence. "I guess they don't want us in, and they don't want what would appear to meet a judge's orders.
"But there's not a lot we can do as players except show up and ask and get sent away. We can't force our way in the building. We're not going to do that. We're going to show up, ask and be told no."
A person familiar with the Titans security said the team has had off-duty officers at the facility to assist with security since the lockout began. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the Titans have not publicly commented on security.
But, the officers weren't seen Tuesday by reporters when a handful of Titans tried to report in pouring rain.
Titans safety Michael Griffin said he laught when he noticed the increased security and tried to report Thursday.
"I thought it was way funny. They rarely do anything through the season," Griffin said.
Scott met briefly Thursday with senior executive vice president Steve Underwood and asked to use the weight room. Underwood told no. Scott then left along with four other Titans who also tried to report, including tight end Jared Cook and Griffin.
U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson late Wednesday rejected the NFL's request to put her order lifting the lockout on hold pending further appeals.
The security detail may not be needed in the future. The NFL sent a memo to clubs saying players can resume voluntary workouts at facilities, meet with coaches and go over playbooks starting Friday. The Titans haven't had a chance to meet as a team with new coach Mike Munchak or pick up playbooks, a crucial delay for a franchise trying to rebound from a 6-10 season.
Scott said that great news.
"This means that players can get back to work and start preparing for the 2011 season. Hopefully the free agency comes sooner than later," he wrote in an e-mail to the AP.
Scott and Griffin are among the Titans who plan to report again Friday, ready to start working. Griffin said he had met new coach Mike Munchak and new defensive coordinator Jerry Gray before the lockout, and that there are no hard feelings between players and coaches.
"It feels good to get things under way, see the playbook and how the terminology's changed," Griffin said.