Getting a read on how NFL players feel about the lockout is a bit difficult at this point.
Those who have said they are thoroughly enjoying the down time appear to be having their words used against them by a league that is trying to make a point that judge Susan Richard Nelson was in error when she said players were suffering irreparable harm because of the lockout.
The reality, however, is no games have been missed and most veteran players aren't going to complain about being "forced" to skip Organized Team Activities and minicamp. Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield, who attended Ray Edwards' professional boxing debut last Friday in Hinckley, Minn., said he has been able to travel much more than usual and also has enjoyed additional time with his family.
So when would Winfield like to see the lockout end?
"If we don’t miss any games, if we get this deal done right before Sept. 11 or whenever we play our first game, it would be perfect with me," said Winfield, who will turn 34 on June 24 and is a veteran of 12 NFL seasons. " ... After being in the league 10-plus years, this will be my 13th year, I wouldn’t mind missing training camp.”
Keep in mind, players don't begin to get their weekly checks until the regular season begins.
The well-conditioned Winfield certainly has not let himself go at all during the work stoppage. He has continued to train in the Twin Cities and is working out four days a week and running three of those days. If anything, he sees the break from actual on-the-field activity as an opportunity to give his body a bit of a rest.
Winfield does not seem concerned that rookie quarterback Christian Ponder and some others aren't getting time to work in OTAs or minicamps.
“I think a lot of that is overrated," Winfield said. "You do a little at OTAs and then minicamp during the offseason, but once you get into training camp that’s when you get into the groove and you take that into the preseason. But if it starts to get into training camp and the preseason then I’ll be a little worried.”
As for the specifics of what's going on during the lockout, Winfield said he checks the Internet "every now and then" for updates but for the most part isn't paying much attention.
"I think they’ll get something done," he said. "We still have some time left. We haven’t missed any games. I would like to get it done after training camp, but we’ll see what happens.”