Greg Olsen: NFL rule keeping Christian McCaffrey out “backwards”


Panthers tight end Greg Olsen wishes he could get to work with his new teammate Christian McCaffrey.

Instead, the NFL’s rules prevent McCaffrey from doing any work because his school, Stanford, is still in session. McCaffrey isn’t even enrolled in school this semester, but that doesn’t matter: The NFL doesn’t allow any rookie to work at his team’s facility until his college’s semester ends, even if he doesn’t attend that college anymore.

“I think that’s just backwards,” Olsen said on NFL Network. “At some point I think the NFL and the NCAA struck up that agreement as kind of a ‘we’ll take care of you, you take care of us,’ but I just think it’s so outdated. That rationale is just not up to date with how things operate. In today’s world, a kid makes a decision, he moves on to another step of his career and leaves school early. He’s not even enrolled; he never even started the last quarter or whatever they’re on, because obviously he was training for the combine and the draft and whatnot. It just seems like a very antiquated rule that definitely needs to be revisited. At the end of the day, these kids are being hurt. Here’s a young kid looking to come in and become acclimated with a new team and join the NFL and make a huge step in his life. Because of something completely out of his control, he’s forbidden from being with us.”

There seems to be quite a bit of momentum for changing the rule, and for good reason: It’s a rule that just doesn’t make a lot of sense. McCaffrey is out of school and ready to play professional football. The NFL should let him.

33 responses to “Greg Olsen: NFL rule keeping Christian McCaffrey out “backwards”

  1. Yea, that doesn’t make sense. I can see if he was enrolled for that semester because they don’t want kids skipping school to attend OTAs (not that teams care anyway), but he’s no longer enrolled there.

  2. Someone needs to do an analysis of whether or not the schools who have late sessions experience any dropoff in their ability to recruit the highest level talent.

    If you believe you have a chance to go to the NFL, and you have multiple D1 scholarship offers, I wonder if anyone ever looks far enough ahead to consider which schools would actually hurt the start of their NFL career vs others.

    Doubtful because I don’t know any High School Seniors who think that far ahead, but if they ever made a link showing it was a detriment to recruiting, I can guarantee you the effected schools would be on the side of getting rid of the rule!

  3. So McCaffrey cannot work and he has an opportunity to attend a top university for free but is not enrolled. Another dumb jock!

  4. It is a good rule because not every player is Christian McCaffrey. If a 6th rounder decides he wants to finish school because he knows he might not make the team, the team that drafted him can’t punish him for doing so.

  5. Thank you, briguy5, for someone who appreciates that these kids may have actually gone to college to get an education and graduate with a degree and not just to get free room, board and football practice before playing in the NFL.

  6. The rule makes sense for fringe draftees that want to graduate from College before joining their team. A 5th/6th rounder may go undrafted because he has told teams that he is going to graduate and won’t join the team until June. Whereas the guy who quit school after his football season was done can join the team immediately.

    Apparently those few weeks are pretty critical (otherwise McCaffery, Olsen, and PFT wouldn’t be talking about it so much). Iys reasonable to assume that a team would pass on a player who wasn’t available until June if a similar talent was available in May.

    I don’t feel too bad for any of them though. Potential NFL career and almost definitely a free College education. They’ll be fine

  7. Even student athletes who graduate early – yes, graduated already – still can’t attend NFL camps until the school year ends. It’s ridiculous. Although I can’t see any motivation for the NFLPA to fight to undo this. They have plenty of unemployed members looking for work every spring.

  8. I personally like the rule. It encourages players to graduate. If it is changed to allow “drop outs” to participate in NFL preseason workouts, I suspect more fringe players would drop out to enhance their chances of making a team. Perhaps, an amendment for players who have graduated early would be in order. In fact, a blanket exemption for graduates would be in order.

  9. So people want to change the rules to suit ONE person.
    That’s stupid.
    How about amending the rule to account for exceptional circumstances such as McCaffrey’s?

    Perhaps they add something in the amendment that accounts for players who have no plans to return to school prior to OTAs/training camp.

  10. This only hurts late round draft picks and UFAs. Late rounders have a lot to make up with the time they have missed….UFAs dont even have a chance of signing in the first place.
    Then again, the education will porbably serve them better in the long run.

  11. On the other side of things, is it fair to give a player who drops out of school a training advantage over another player who sticks it out and graduates?

    The NFL has to do whatever it can to support College Football, which is its de facto developmental league. If it inconveniences one or two dropouts, big deal.

  12. “The rule just needs to be amended to exclude players who are not enrolled. Simple fix….”

    It needs amended to exclude GRADUATES. Excluding players not enrolled would just allow NFL teams to force guys to quit school or see their dreams of being drafted disappear.

  13. Why not just put a clause in there that you can attend for X amount of days? Please correct me if I am wrong but aren’t OTA’s just a couple of days or a week long?

    So put a clause in there that they can attend OTA #1 for 3 days and OTA #2 for 4 days and you can’t exceed that amount of time in a semester/quarter.

    This way the fringe guys and big time draftees both get the same work in.

  14. They sure are whining a lot. Pretty much every team has had a player from Stanford and they had to do the same, yet the Panthers are crying for two weeks about it. Suck it up.

  15. Or better yet, how about not scheduling OTAs during the school year? There’s plenty of weeks available before official training camp opens, so why not do it then?

  16. I see no reason not to amend the rule for those who have graduated. It encourages players to work hard on their schoolwork and get that free degree, that many of them will need when their nfl dreams fall apart a couple years down the road.

    Or….. schedule otas for after all the schools are out of session and avoid the problem altogether

  17. “They dont have quarters, they have semesters. Shows how much Olsen went to class.”

    Stanford, among other schools, operates on quarters sweetheart.

  18. Christian has been HIRED to work for an NFL organization and has nothing to do with Stanford.

    In comparison, there and hundreds of Standford students that get hired by Silicon Vally Tech firms before graduating. They NEVER have to wait until the semester ends.

    Thank you Greg for calling this rule what it is…we’ll take care of you, you take care of us,’

  19. The rule makes zero sense if the player is NO LONGER ENROLLED AT THE UNIVERSITY!

    It only makes sense for the 5th or 6th round pick that is still enrolled at the school.

  20. A couple of seasons ago when the Saints drafted Peat, who also played at Stanford, there were a lot of Saints fans complaining about the same thing. A lot of Panthers fans, among others in the division, said to suck it up or maybe you shouldn’t have drafted a guy from a school you knew would have to sit out. Now that the shoe is on the other foot it all of a sudden is a problem. Well all I can do is sit back, laugh, and enjoy all of the time he is missing. Lets face facts here anyways, RB is the easiest position in the NFL to get acclimated to as a rookie in the NFL. Don’t worry about a thing, every little thing is gonna be alright!

  21. Most guys entering the NFL aren’t first round picks and they’re not automatically guaranteed a roster spot. I’m sure the rule was put in place so that guys who left school early (or dropped out) wouldn’t have an advantage over the guys who stayed in college to finish their degrees. Most of the players are on scholarship, and need the financial assistance. They might not be able to afford going back to school if they didn’t make an NFL roster. So I think it’s an excellent rule. McCaffrey is probably smarter than your average player, and he won’t fall behind. Believe me. Also, with a dad who was an NFL player, McCaffrey will actually be ahead of most rookies.

  22. Doesn’t matter…After Cam Newton returns to his MVP form….and after the Panthers return to the Superbowl…. McCaffrey is going to sit that game so he doesn’t risk injury B4 his next contract….

  23. Good grief…are we really complaining about this. And who is going to not draft someone based on this rule. There are hundreds of players who haven’t graduated early for every Christian mccaffery but let’s just make him the messiah for the new age football player. This self entitled clown doesn’t want any rules to follow it would appear

  24. Wait until college coaches start using this on the recruiting trail to their advantage (“Stanford’s on the trimester system, so when you are read to go to the NFL, you will miss OTAs; we are on the semester system, so you won’t miss any OTAs here at State U…”) Then it will change.

  25. I love the Panther haters in here. That’s right. Let the hate flow. Deep down, you guys know it’s only a matter of time before we lift the Lombardi.

    And, no, Olsen is not a beefcake jock. Greg is one of the smartest players in the league. Third Leg knows every route that his teammates is going to run on the field. He knows exactly what he’s talking about.

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