Christian McCaffrey: NFL rule keeping me from OTAs “sucks”

Getty Images

Panthers rookie running back Christian McCaffrey isn’t allowed to participate in Organized Team Activities because of an NFL rule keeping rookies off the field until their colleges’ end their spring semesters. McCaffrey is not a fan of that rule.

It sucks,” McCaffrey told the team’s website, “it’s really tough.”

McCaffrey went to Stanford, where final exams aren’t over until June 14, so until then he’s not allowed at the Panthers facility. That’s true even though McCaffrey isn’t even enrolled at Stanford anymore — the rule applies whether the player is currently a student or not.

Panthers head coach Ron Rivera is not a fan of the rule either, but McCaffrey says he’s making the best of a bad situation by talking on the phone with running backs coach Jim Skipper.

“He’ll quiz me over the phone, and then I’ll go over everything, and he’ll tell me what to learn for the next day,” McCaffrey said. “You can still get the plays down and get good training when you’re home, but nothing will ever compete with actually getting the reps on the field, being with the guys. It is what it is. That’s the rule, and we’ll just have to deal with it.”

The NFL says the rule is designed to encourage players not to drop out of college, but realistically, many top players already choose not to enroll in the spring semester because they they want to prepare for the Scouting Combine and the draft. Many rookies haven’t been college students since December, and it’s silly to tell those rookies they can’t practice until their college semesters are over.

38 responses to “Christian McCaffrey: NFL rule keeping me from OTAs “sucks”

  1. If the NFL wants to get serious about something like this, make getting a degree the requirement. Otherwise this is a joke

  2. With a dumb rule like that you’d think the colleges actually care about the students getting an education as opposed to destroying property and shutting down people with whom they disagree.

  3. For a league full of dumb rules, this may be the dumbest! Not only do most of those draft-bound players not sign up for spring classes, most don’t even attend classes in the fall as there are no repercussions for bad grades at that point.

  4. ftwatty says:
    Jun 6, 2017 5:56 AM
    It also gives cover to the guy who wants to stick around and graduate



  5. With the average career of NFL players at 3.3 years, a rule like this isn’t “dumb”. For every 15 year veteran, there’s a guy who washes out before training camp is over. So you have a guy who is 24-25 years old, without millions in the bank, trying to figure out what to do with the next 50+ years of his life. The rule is there to protect the players from themselves. Finish your classes, get your degree, so if things don’t pan out in the NFL…as they typically do not, you’ll have a foundation to springboard your next career from.

  6. The spirit of the rule is fine. The execution isn’t. If these guys want to leave school short of getting their degree, then let them. Lots of non-athletes do it everyday. Getting a college degree isn’t the goal for everyone.

    They can become responsible for their actions.
    At least they now have a stream of income.

  7. This rule isn’t silly, or dumb as some of you think, it’s partly (as per ftwatty’s comment) to give cover to guys wanting/needing to graduate in the Spring. But more importantly it’s so that those few guys aren’t relatively disadvantaged by missing activities that guys who left early may be free for, and not disadvantaged by the Draft (a team choosing between two similar 7th rounders might just pick the guy who can make OTAs). If OTAs are so important to teams wanting to draft guys from college, then move OTAs back a bit until the semester is over!

  8. All rules seem dumb to some people, but there are usually good reasons for having them. I think it’s a good rule for those who want to stay in school and graduate. McCaffrey was a first round pick, but what about the later draftees or free agents trying to make the team. They’d have to decide whether to graduate, or get into the facility to try to secure a roster spot. Then if they get cut, at least they’ll have their degree to fall back on. McCaffrey comes from a wealthy family. He has mom and dad to fall back on.

  9. The kid is just saying he wants to be with his team. That is a good thing. My guess is that he is well on his way to all the credits he needs to graduate, if no already there, as the very good academic institutions such as Stanford generally have high graduation rates among their athletes (e.g. 90%+).

  10. Many rookies haven’t been college students since December. Many rookies have been at a college, but never been a student.

  11. It is essential that the NFL do things like this to support college football, which is their de facto minor league.

  12. He’s going to sit out his entire first contract anyway because he’s afraid of getting hurt. That would jeopardize his next contract.

    He’s only going to end up being regulated to special teams once the team realizes he’s just not that good.

  13. How this guy was a top 10 pick as a scatback I have no idea. Who drafts a scatback in the top 10?

    Scatbacks are not 3 down players.

  14. Missing spring OTAs and minicamp Real training starts when they put the pads on. Any player can learn what to do on a Left zebra 3 over nine minus 43 cove right play on 3. Since their is no contact in OTAs it’s called a new abket to learn on and confer with coaches via the Telly. Good rule in my book.

  15. The thing not being mentioned here is that Stanford is on the quarter schedule and not the semester schedule.

    Most college semesters end around the 1st or 2nd full week in May.

    So essentially Christian McCaffrey is being asked to spend a full month longer waiting around then everyone who didn’t attend a college that uses quarters.

  16. It’s easy. If they are started the semester enrolled at school, they may not participate. If they never even enrolled that semester, they may participate. These top round picks aren’t staying in school a day past the bowl games. If their semester isn’t over until mid-june, that means classes started for them in February. I would bet there is less than 5% of kids drafted in rounds 1-4 still enrolled at school, and if they are, it’s likely for free food and rent that the scholarship provides.

  17. “The NFL says the rule is designed to encourage players not to drop out of college…”

    Try to read that sentence out loud w/ a straight face.

  18. Over the phone? How lame. Skype him in the meeting rooms at the very least.

  19. I call BS on this one…

    This the same guy who sat out a bowl game and draft work outs….

    I hope he flames out in the NFL and regrets not playing in his College bowl game…

    His success isn’t guaranteed in the NFL so for him to take for granted his last opportunity to play college football makes him a dueschbag who doesn’t love football!

  20. If the player is still taking classes during Spring then I absolutely agree with the rule and that it’s a good thing for the students. HOWEVER, if the player is not enrolled in classes and isn’t taking any during spring semester I don’t see any reason why they should be restricted like this. The rule is good for keeping the players in school, but they should alter it so players that aren’t in classes can participate in team activities.

  21. Instead of a RULE it should be a provision. Where if you want to graduate without interference because you’re the next Myron Rolle, you can. But if you’re a Christian McCaffrey you can head to OTAs as well.

  22. It is a silly rule. If players want to graduate, there is always time to do that, even if they put it off for a year. Other college attendees can have a job, or do an intership for a semester, while still attending school. Why can’t draft prep, and preparing for your next job (OTAs), be an internship for athletes? If OTAs were part of that internship, then they could participate while technically still in school.

  23. blah773 says:
    Jun 6, 2017 9:52 AM
    “The NFL says the rule is designed to encourage players not to drop out of college…”

    Try to read that sentence out loud w/ a straight face.

    10 1
    Report comment


    Look who the commissioner is. He’s the most politically correct phony I’ve ever seen and he’s destroyed the NFL with his phony behavior and lies.

  24. iamthehorniestmanintheworld says:
    Jun 6, 2017 11:02 AM
    Not a fan of McCaffrey, he’s a me first guy. Should have gone to Cal or UCLA or some other football factory that doesn’t graduate in the middle of June.

    3 1
    Report comment


    Agreed. I am stunned at how overrated he is and will be in the NFL.

    When he sat out st Stanford, I thought of Jadeveon Clowney and I saw a major red flag. Clearly, he’s not worthy of a top 10 pick. No scatback is even in a passing league.

    The Pats plug and play scatbacks and they don’t need to waste top 10 draft collateral to do so, mainly because that kind of position then will need to be paid heavily in about 3 years, too.

  25. “Its the same for everyone, shut up rook.”

    Um, you DID read the part about academic quarter calendar vs. semester calendar, didn’t you?

  26. Why is Stanford’s “Spring Semester” lasting until June 14? Sure, it’s technically spring, but most colleges end their spring semester between late April and the middle of May – with a few going to the end of may. What, did Stanford give them December, January, and February as their winter break?

    I am not opposed to the rule, because it’s better for a kid to have a degree than not, given how short lived NFL careers can be. But the NFL should look at when the majority of colleges end their semesters and have some sort of cut off date. Say, June 1 – after that, players may participate. And/or, they should allow players to at least come in on weekends (Like Fri-Sun) while school is in session.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.