NFLPA president: Voluntary means voluntary

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Jaguars executive V.P. of football operations Tom Coughlin say that all players should be present for voluntary offseason workouts. The president of the NFL Players Association says that voluntary doesn’t mean what Coughlin apparently thinks it means.

“Our CBA definition of voluntary is the same as the actual definition of voluntary,” NFLPA president Eric Winston said in a statement issued to PFT, “and prohibits anyone from threatening players to participate in voluntary workouts. This is precisely the reason players negotiated strict work rules and bright lines when it comes to offseason activities. We know, from experience, that not all coaches and executives will adhere to them and we always pursue any violations to protect our rules.”

This implies that Coughlin’s bright-line violation will be pursued, through the proper channels. The question at this point isn’t whether a violation happened but what the appropriate sanction should be.

That also could be said for the Broncos’ decision to cut defensive back Craig Mager, whose only apparent sin seems to be that he hasn’t shown up for offseason workouts due to personal reasons, including the bonus minicamp that the Broncos may conduct in connection with the fact that they have a new coach.

On one hand, the Broncos want someone to participate in the workouts, and Mager is taking a roster spot that could go to someone who will voluntary do so. On the other hand, all players have a right to skip voluntary workouts, from Player No. 1 to Player No. 90 on the offseason roster.

42 responses to “NFLPA president: Voluntary means voluntary

  1. The NFLPA is so full of baloney. If they really gave a damn about the players they’d fight the owners about playing Thursday night games and playing games in Europe.
    I have yet to hear any player say they like playing games on Thursday nights, but I’ve heard plenty of them say they hate it because of the demands it puts on them physically. I’ve also heard some players say they don’t like traveling to Europe to play games for the same reason.

  2. It’s interesting to see all the articles from the media about what Coughlin saying all players should show. But yet, when a player DOESN’T show, the media makes a big deal about that as well. SMH

  3. Can’t we all just relax? Leave Tom “Get off my lawn” Coughlin alone…we all know he is wound tight like the inside of a baseball.

  4. Need to look no further to understand why player contracts are barely worth the paper they are written on. While the small % of large dollar contracts of star players aren’t the issue, it’s the majority of NLPA members whose contracts are very small. Club owners and executives trample all over contractually agreed upon rules.

  5. Guys like Winston in the NFLPA are the reason that football sucks the first 6 or so weeks of the season. As salaries continue to skyrocket, hopefully the league can get these guys back to working more than 6 months out of the year for their $10M.

  6. Notice Eric Winston is intent on defending the conventional and well accepted definition of “voluntary” while silmutaneously redifining by inference the same conventional and well accepted definition of “should”.

  7. “On the other hand, all players have a right to skip voluntary workouts, from Player No. 1 to Player No. 90 on the offseason roster.”

    Yes, and on the other hand, the team also has the right to cut anyone it feels like. It doesn’t need to justify why they are cutting them.

  8. nyneal says: “The NFLPA is so full of baloney. If they really gave a damn about the players they’d fight the owners about playing Thursday night games and playing games in Europe.

    I have yet to hear any player say they like playing games on Thursday nights, but I’ve heard plenty of them say they hate it because of the demands it puts on them physically.”
    ————————

    While the NFLPA is full of baloney, many players DO like Thursday Night Football and have said so. They like the mini-bye 10-day rest right after the TNF game and a lot of players book a short weekend vacation with their families because of it.

    They also seem to enjoy the extra money TNF brings in, with the Fox contract worth $660m per year. The players’ share of that is $317 million, or an average of $187,000 bonus per player. I don’t see a rush of players complaining about that or willing to give it up…

  9. All teams have the right to cut a player and fill their rosters with players they believe are committed to achieving the goals of the team.

  10. Why is “should” a “bright line” in this case and is not a bright line in the case of the National Anthem rules? I’m confused.

  11. Should and shall have different meanings. I agree with Coughlin. The players should show up. But they don’t have to.

  12. The NFL Owners definition of should is the same as the actual definition of should. No one said they mus show up. Ge over it.

  13. It can be voluntary but Coughlin and the teams still don’t have to like it when guys don’t show. What do these writers and the NFLPA want? A non-participation ribbon for the guys who don’t show?

  14. Everyone has “voluntary” responsibilities at their jobs, but if you routinely opt not to volunteer, it’ll get noticed and when promotions/raises come around you’ll find yourself at the back of the line.

    Companies, just like teams, want people with positive attitudes that WANT to be there, not people doing just the bare minimum to get paid.

  15. Such a bizarre situation. As an employer, you evaluate workers on both skill and commitment, which would include their willingness to attend training sessions. Voluntary workouts are, essentially, training sessions. The NFLPA wants players to be able to skip these sessions at will but thinks coaches should be able to tune that out when trying to decide who makes the roster. This isn’t a case of people who already work 40-50 hours a week 52 weeks a year being expected to put in additional time on weekends. These guys get several months off. Anyone who’s really committed to the success of the team should be willing to participate in these workouts, especially when a new coach is coming into the mix. Of course, if a player has a family illness or other reason for not attending, that should be taking into consideration.

  16. If a player on my team failed to show for voluntary workouts, I’d FIND a way to cut him posthaste.
    I’d also tell my coaching friends all about the players lack of commitment and effort.

  17. I feel bad for the old school coaches who can actually remember when they could do something in practice other than run around in shells and shorts.

    I miss the days of watching the Oklahoma Drill at training camps in the 1980s.

  18. I see now why the Packers are leading the charge and inclined to offer (and players are tending to agree with) workout bonuses. They cut through through the drama and politics and go straight to the chase. Makes total and complete sense. Many teams that have been chasing the Packers’ success for years have been copying Packer strategies, and this tactic is no exception.

  19. The NFLPA is so full of baloney. If they really gave a damn about the players they’d fight the owners about playing Thursday night games and playing games in Europe.
    I have yet to hear any player say they like playing games on Thursday nights, but I’ve heard plenty of them say they hate it because of the demands it puts on them physically. I’ve also heard some players say they don’t like traveling to Europe to play games for the same reason.

    ===
    You pick and choose your battles. The fact is unless we the fans stop watching TNF and Europe games make the leagues silly amounts of money. The players would have to make major concessions like going to a 20 game schedule or something to get rid of TNF. So if we want to support the players and show we don’t like TNF we have to stop tuning in and make the NFL money

  20. dryzzt23 says: “If a player on my team failed to show for voluntary workouts, I’d FIND a way to cut him posthaste.”
    ————————-

    Right. So Belichick was going to cut Tom Brady AND Rob Gronkowski for skipping last year’s voluntary workouts…

  21. NinersFan1973 says: “I feel bad for the old school coaches who can actually remember when they could do something in practice other than run around in shells and shorts.

    I miss the days of watching the Oklahoma Drill at training camps in the 1980s.”
    ======================

    Those players ‘back in the day’ all came in overweight and out of shape. Training camp was NECESSARY. These days, players treat their bodies like a temple and are in fantastic shape year round. Ryan Fitzpatrick was an exception this year and look at all the ‘fat shaming’ he got from fans and media.

  22. The comments about the workout bonuses are interesting. So, the NFLPA make these voluntary in the CBA yet the players sign contracts that tie their salary to showing up – isn’t that defeating the purpose of “voluntary” if they lose money if they don’t show up?

    If all teams did this, then all of the players would show up “voluntarily” so can get paid…

  23. I don’t care what a union says. These guys have already been on vacation longer than most people get in an entire year.

  24. What violation. Should does not mean must and doesn’t imply fines. What his comment conveys is that after a major let down last year the players should be stepping up to the plate and practicing all that they can so that they can be a better team.

    As to their dictionary definition at what point did it state that should is another word for must.

  25. “Need to look no further to understand why player contracts are barely worth the paper they are written on. While the small % of large dollar contracts of star players aren’t the issue, it’s the majority of NLPA members whose contracts are very small. Club owners and executives trample all over contractually agreed upon rules.”

    The NFLPA doesn’t care about those guys and really only exists to server the guys getting the largest contracts.

  26. I don’t believe I ever read that the Broncos cut Mager based on the fact that he didn’t show up and since the club has the right to cut whomever they want whenever they want this seems like a lame attempt to stir the pot.

  27. Let’s get something straight. Voluntary doesn’t mean voluntary for everyone, period. It never has and it never will. It’s ‘voluntary’ for Brady, Rogers, and many other high end players. From what I understand Suh never attended voluntary workouts and he was never cut for that action. Craig Mager, on the other hand should have known he would be cut if ‘personal reasons’ were anything less than a death in the family, a birth, or a court date. This wouldn’t even have been a call for his agent to make, it should have been done himself to hear first hand the response from the head coach.

  28. Unions ruin everything. They are all overpaid so voluntary means you show up for weight lifting and some light running.

  29. In the end, players KNOW that if they skip a minicamp that they risk getting cut. They make a risk/reward decision….they can participate in order to further their career or they can skip minicamp so that they can smoke more weed and chase women.
    I don’t feel sorry for any player who gets cut because they failed to put forth maximum effort.

  30. Do you know how you don’t get better at whatever skill you are using? Stop doing it for half a year, every year.

    Think about that and about any skill you might have and how out of practice you would be if you hadn’t used it in 6 months.

    Think about how much better you could be with the additional 6 months of training.(injury risk is part of the game, cost of doing business)

    The smartest/best players would be wanting as much training time as possible. The players union contract is set up in a way that actually hurts the players and they don’t even realize it. It’s really sad.

    I sure am glad that doctors and other important people don’t take 6 month breaks every year before doing something requiring great skill.

  31. Makes one wonder whether the players (as a whole) are really interested in winning. I mean, don’t they want to prepare for the upcoming season, and go into it with the intention of winning? If they keep pushing their spoiled candy-ass approach to the game, in time they may demand no training camp, no pre-season, week days off during the season, and just go out and play Sundays – if that. And the way most contracts are written with all the guarantees and up front moneys, they may just get away with it.

  32. Scenario:
    Two players identical in talent, skill and playmaking ability.
    Team can only keep one.
    Team must make a difficult decision.
    One player showed up for all the voluntary activities, and one player did not.
    Now it’s no longer it difficult decision.

    I think a player’s actions, and just as importantly there inactions, all feed into the decisions teams must make when deciding who gets to stay and who gets cut.

    So, yes, voluntary means voluntary, but if a player wants to give themselves the best chance to make or remain on a team, then I think it’s good advice to give them when saying, they “should” show up.

    As big a curmudgeon as Tom coughlin is, and personally I don’t care for his management style, he has every right to infer that players “should” show up for voluntary activities, as it actually is in their best interest to do so. His remark can be judged as good advice, just as easily as it can’t be construed as a threat. So his remarks are what they are, and you fill in your own blanks.

    Players “should” man up, and accept the realities the decisions carry regarding their Employer’s offer of voluntary activities.

  33. Everything about football is voluntary. Coaches are looking for guys who love to play football. Sometimes during a game you’ll see a lineman blocking 25 yards downfield, while others just stood around. You see some receivers and tight ends give really good efforts blocking, while others are just going through the motions. Some guys put in extra time studying their playbooks, while others screwed up during the game. All this extra effort is also voluntary. So if everything else is even, the coaches are going to get rid of the players who are being outworked by others. If you’re not a pro bowler or come from a really wealthy family, you’re better off showing up.

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