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NFL Career in Limbo: LB Shanle restless but understanding of players' hard-line stance

NFL 2011: LOCKOUT LIMBO:

“Professionally speaking, we can’t take steps backward now. That doesn’t make sense!’’

- Scott Shanle on the players' stance during NFL labor strife.

On Feb. 9th, veteran NFL linebacker Scott Shanle and his wife, Erin, welcomed their third child into this uncertain world, a beautiful daughter named Aivree.  

Now almost four months later, Shanle remains unemployed, in “Lockout Limbo,’’ an unrestricted free agent who cannot negotiate with his former team, the New Orleans Saints, or any other NFL team for that matter while the judicial system wrestles with the league’s fate.  

Scott Shanle (#58) looks to keep making key hits with the Saints.Scott Shanle (#58) looks to keep making key hits with the Saints.
Linebacker Scott Shanle (#58) looks to keep making key hits with the New Orleans Saints.

Because of his unsigned status and the potential for injury, the 31-year-old Shanle is not participating in the ongoing “players’ only’’ workouts led by Saints quarterback Drew Brees at Tulane University. Instead, Shanle is working out on his own.  

With an assist from Saints beat writer Brian Allee-Walsh of SportsNOLA.com, Shanle has agreed to chronicle his thoughts and concerns during the lockout, now entering its 11th week with no end in sight.  

This is Shanle’s second installment of “NFL 2011: No Where To Go’’ as told to Allee-Walsh. Future installments will come as events warrant.    

KENNER – We’re all pretty much at a point now where we feel like we’re being held hostage by what’s going on. Really more like by what’s not going on, to be honest with you.  

Eventually, something has to happen or we’ll all go crazy. Problem is, I don’t sense this thing is going to end any time soon. Even after the court hearing June 3rd (8th Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis) and makes its ruling sometime later, both sides will have to sit down and have mediation, and we’ve found out that hasn’t helped out a whole lot.  

Once we got to this point, I thought we might not see movement on either side until we got closer to the regular season. Maybe, these court decisions will help create leverage for one side or the other and help get a deal done. To me, it really doesn’t matter what the courts rule; you still got to sit down and negotiate. You still have to have both sides come together and discuss a new CBA and discuss what the salary cap is going to be and what free agency is going to be like.

It’s discouraging for me and a whole lot of other guys that more meetings aren’t taking place, as far as hammering out points specific. I can’t say 100 percent and say that every player will stand (united). I can’t speak for other teams, but I know (the Saints) are very united with what we’re doing. As players, for us to take any steps backward now, professionally speaking, that doesn’t make sense. We’re kind of backed in a corner right now. We’re waiting to see how it will turn out in the courts. But, I think we’re pretty united around the league.

There’s no panic on the player’s front and I don’t think there needs to be. We still have the months of June and July, and there’s training camp in August. So, we really have three months before the regular-season games start. So, I don’t think there is any reason for the players to panic, and I’m sure the owners are thinking the same thing. That’s why these rulings are going to be huge as far as determining how we proceed.

As far as my situation goes, I haven’t given much thought to ‘what if’ because my mindset really hasn’t changed when it comes to working out with the guys (Saints players) right now. There are probably a lot of (unsigned) veterans like me out there who are running and lifting on their own, staying in shape, and will show up for training camp.

For a guy like me, as soon as the lockout is lifted, we still have to have negotiations and talks between our agents and GMs. I would wait to see how those talks went with my agent (Drew Rosenhaus) and, say, (Saints GM) Mickey (Loomis) before I went back. It would be a little weird for me to go to workouts if my agent was in serious discussions with other teams. I think that would be a little weird for me and my (Saints) teammates.

It definitely feels weird because I can’t have any contact with any (Saints) coaches to explain my situation. I don’t know if they’re mad that I’m not going to workouts. I haven’t really gotten to talk to them to discuss my side of the story. So it’s been difficult for me as far as that goes.

I still talk with some of the guys. It sounds like they’re having pretty good turnouts and the workouts are going good. It’s been good for what Drew (Brees) has been doing for those guys. To me, as long as you have a guy like Drew Brees at those workouts, I’m pretty sure they’re just like they’ve been every offseason.

There are varying ways to look at my situation. On one hand, it can be worse to be a free agent because as we get closer to the regular season, teams may not be willing to sign a guy who isn’t familiar with their offense and defense. On the other hand, maybe your own team is more likely to bring a guy back like me. On the positive side, I have the reputation of a guy who can play multiple defenses and play different positions. So that might help a guy like me.

My body feels great, just from not having the pounding from a normal offseason and OTAs and minicamps. So from a physical standpoint, I feel pretty good. My weight is about 237, 238; that’s about where I normally would be. To be honest, I haven’t felt this good since college (Nebraska), at least not in the NFL. In Dallas, Bill Parcells wasn’t a huge fan of the OTAs, so we didn’t have many. We had a minicamp and about three OTAs after minicamp and then we were done in early June. He was a big proponent in lifting, running and getting focused mentally during the offseason. He wanted guys to focus on getting bigger, faster and stronger. He wasn’t a big proponent of running around in shorts and helmets.  

Saints beat writer Brian Allee-Walsh can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

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