A simple compromise could solve the offseason workout problem

NFL: JUN 01 Packers OTA
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The unexpected fight between the NFL and the NFL Players Association over offseason workouts has little to do with COVID-19, the front-line reason given by the NFLPA for not wanting to attend. Despite the trumped-up basis for the boycott, there are still issues that need to be resolved between management and labor regarding the offseason program.

Although the lingering pandemic has become the stated excuse for drawing a line in the sand, multiple sources have made it clear to PFT over the past several days that COVID concerns aren’t the driving force behind this fight. Last year’s virtual offseason program caused many players to realize that they simply don’t need to be in the facility for the early portions of the two-month session.

Plenty of veterans believe that their own offseason strength and conditioning routines are superior to the programs offered by their teams. For years, players like Odell Beckham Jr. and Ndakumong Suh have done their own thing in the early stages of the program, showing up (if at all) for the on-field OTA sessions. Last year’s experience allowed more players to realize that they can get and stay in the right shape through their own strength, conditioning, and agility drills — on their own time and in their own cities, without having to return to the places where they play football.

It’s not that players don’t want to work. They want to work their own way, and they’re willing to assume the risk of injury arising from exercising on their own.

When it comes to the on-field work, most players are willing to show up for Organized Team Activities, still the clunkiest term ever invented for “football practice.”

So here’s the compromise that could solve the problem. For Phase One (which this year lasts four weeks), players would be able to participate in meetings virtually and work out on their own. Although teams would not be responsible for injuries, attending the virtual meetings and working out remotely would qualify for both the $275 per diem and credit toward satisfying the criteria for receiving a workout bonus.

In Phase Two (one week) and Phase Three (four weeks), the players would have to attend and participate in the on-field sessions for the per diem and for workout bonus credit.

The Packers, per a source with knowledge of the situation, already have offered this middle ground to its players, even though the Packers are one of the only teams whose players won’t be pressured to join in the boycott due to the magnitude of workout bonuses utilized. In a letter sent Thursday to all players, the Packers explained that players will receive credit toward their workout bonuses by participating virtually in Phase One. For Phase Two and Phase Three, presence at Lambeau Field will be required in order to satisfy the requirements of the workout bonus.

These are, per a source with knowledge of the situation, team-by-team decisions. Although the league has decided that players this year can receive the $275 per diem for virtually participating in Phase One, the team decides whether virtual participation in Phase One counts toward the workout bonus calculation.

If more teams would make the offer that the Packers have made, more teams may see their players for Phase Two and Phase Three, if they’re willing not to have them around for Phase One.

In future years, that could also be a smart approach. Give players with workout bonuses the option to work out at the facility or elsewhere in Phase One, but still require on-field presence for Phase Two and Phase Three in order to qualify for the payment.

It’s a term that could have been negotiated globally between the league and the union last year. It’s a term that the various teams could voluntarily offer now in order to encourage more players to show up for the voluntary workouts that are most relevant to preparing for the coming season — Phase Two and Phase Three.

32 responses to “A simple compromise could solve the offseason workout problem

  1. Great idea. Lots of businesses that were forced into Zoom meetings, have decided to make a lot of it permanent. I’m sure, by next pre-season, this kind of idea will be enacted. I don’t think most players are against practice. I think this is more Covid related. The veterans, who already have millions of dollars in the bank, and many who already have families, don’t want to risk dealing with Covid, and the long term affects, and/or bringing it home to their kids. The young, bubble players, many of whom are still single, would be more willing to get out there and compete for a spot, and and assume more risks, for the shot at financial security.

  2. Then what’s the penalty for players that workout on their own remotely and participate virtually in Phase One when they show up at the team facility for Phase Two and Phase Three out of shape and not in football condition?

  3. Teams should make work out bonuses part of all new contracts and it should not be more money

  4. It’s not about being in shape as much as it is being present in lineups for play packages and knowing your place. Walk throughs and making the playbook a reality on the practice stage. Not everyone can learn it through a zoom meeting. This is terrible.

  5. Time for players to start donating 50% of their salaries to others. You guys really care about other people? Prove it.

  6. Great idea. Lots of businesses that were forced into Zoom meetings, have decided to make a lot of it permanent
    ——-

    And then there are others like the Rock who run around making movies and attending celebrity events while buying 27 million dollar houses and joking about how he should be president because he “relates to the people”. No change in the lives of Hollywood types at all. But you guys keep buying the fairy tale you’re being told.

  7. Many players…Go ask BB and the Pats how
    important these workouts are. It’s like a train..The earlier you get on it, the better the seat you get.

    This whole NBA thingy with these players has been started by Brady. Rodgers is playing games with GB and now all of these players are trying to make it seem like half commitments will make them better and their team better.

  8. If players cared about winning a Super Bowl, they’d show up in the spring. It’s not just the workouts, it’s beginning the installs, coaching, team building, etc., etc., etc.

  9. What’s the big deal? Those who show up, do; those who don’t, don’t. Those who make the cut to the 53-man roster do, those who don’t don’t.

    Show up or don’t show up. Voluntary is exactly that. Although don’t come crying if you don’t make the roster.

    Voluntary does not mean without consequences.

  10. I believe football players are employees of their franchise. If the owner pays them to play football then they play football, including practice.
    That is all

  11. The teams need to hold practice & use that time to analyze young players and those who show up. Safety protocols & Vaccines has made this posturing by the NFLPA a political issue and nothing else. If the guys at my local store, gas station, etc….can show up to work, the players can, as well.

  12. Get ready for another year of bad football in the first 3-5 games. The players don’t want to show up until the mandatory activities, which means they’re a full session behind where they have been in the past had they come to voluntary OTAs. Following that delay, the first month of the regular season is about where they would have been in pre-season games.

    NFLPA has to be the worst union. The leaders and player reps told their members to approve the new CBA last year when it looked like a season may not have been played… now they’re mad at what they agreed to and want to renegotiate by not showing up and putting a bad product on the field for the paying customers. They should be thankful they make the money they do – 50-60 years ago, they wouldn’t be working out on their own… they’d be working in the offseason like the rest of us.

  13. Would you or I show up at voluntary work for several weeks per year for free? Of course not. Just because someone else is paid more than us, why should it be different?

    If teams want them to be mandatory, make them mandatory during the next CBA negotiations. I’m sure the NFLPA would agree to it… for a price.

  14. Most of us have to attend our jobs 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year. I feel no sympathy for these players that make 10 times what we do and are crying over ota’s and a 17 week schedule. Dip a toe into the real world if that’s how you feel.

  15. I think it would be easier to work out a compromise like this if the union wasn’t being disingenuous that this is about Covid.

  16. I can see their side of it if in fact they are getting in shape on their own. Personally I think a lot of these guys on the front lines use the first four weeks of pre season and the first two of the reg season to get in shape. Seen way to many guys who arses wider then a Minnesota snow shovel show up for practice. No way they were working hard on their own to be all they can be.
    As a training manager sure would be a good use of time to reveiw films, go over rules and stratgies and all that too. I mean the majority of these guys work July through early Jan. Wish we all had that time schedule in our lives getting paid millions.
    That is the heart of this issue, the NFL knows darn well they have physical nuts and loafers mixed together and thus the workouts.

  17. AOC is glad Al Gore invented football and discovered Mexico says:
    April 18, 2021 at 10:16 am
    Then what’s the penalty for players that workout on their own remotely and participate virtually in Phase One when they show up at the team facility for Phase Two and Phase Three out of shape and not in football condition?

    117 42 Rate This

    ——

    Uhhhh, the penalty for showing up out of shape is getting cut, and losing your roster spot and paycheck?

    I fail to see the problem here.

  18. cheeseisfattening says:
    April 18, 2021 at 4:24 pm

    Nothing will get players to spend time in green bay except more money

    ____________________________________________________________________________________

    Or if they want to look at Championship Trophies, because there’s more of them in Green Bay than anywhere else.

  19. The nfl could and should disappear until week 1 of the regular season and no one would care

  20. Sports in the 21st century:
    Let yourself get fat and out of shape until your team grants your wish to be traded to the Nets (see James Harden)
    Refuse to show up at “voluntary” workouts where your team has a chance to gel and give you a better chance to play on a Super Bowl team (see the NFLPA)
    Pitch 5 innings and then have 3 or 4 guys come in a relieve you and brag how great of a pitcher you are (see all starting pitchers)
    Hit home runs in small ball parks with juiced balls and brag how great of a power hitter you are (see all major league hitters)
    Throw for 4 or 5000 yards and 45 TD’s because no one can breathe on you or they get a penalty flag thrown, and tell everyone how great of a QB you are. (See all QB’s in the NFL)

  21. cheeseisfattening says:
    April 18, 2021 at 4:24 pm
    Nothing will get players to spend time in green bay except more money.

    I take it you have never been to Eagan, MN. it’s in a frigging swampy marsh.

  22. What a crock – this is collusion with the union and its members.

    Fine – let’s abolish voluntary workouts. If a player is injured going into mandatory workouts and training camp, then revoke their salary for the rest of the time they are injured and until they return to the ACTIVE roster. It is time to put the ball back into the court of the whining players – either you take care of yourself and you condition yourself or pay the price!

  23. “If more teams would make the offer that the Packers have made, more teams may see their players for Phase Two and Phase Three, if they’re willing not to have them around for Phase One.”

    The Packers dominate the NFCN because Packer management plays chess and the other teams can’t beat each other at checkers.

  24. I support players in every aspect. They could loose their jobs anytime and often teams release players to save few bucks. Just don’t pretend it’s about safety. Not when you see videos of players working out on some beaches with 10 other friends,lifting weights in some random gym seeing others around him, not when you see Aaron Donald on camera intervening in the fight at 2.30 AM coming out of the bar. It’s their spare time, they are free to do as they like, just don’t say you worry about safety at facility. They could find different solutions, but being at the facility is one of the safest way to work as a professional. Those protocols can compare to the ones in medical institutions. That being said… Go Jaguars!

  25. More proof most of todays players are just about the money they wanna put in the minimum amount of effort.

  26. britishraven says:
    April 18, 2021 at 1:38 pm
    Would you or I show up at voluntary work for several weeks per year for free? Of course not

    —–

    That all depends on whether you view what you do as a “job” or as a “career”. If you view it like the latter, then absolutely you will take every advantage of improving your skills and overall value to your employer and the general market

  27. Sure, they could bribe guys to attend. But these workout are still technically voluntary so they cannot force anybody to attend. The owners can take it up in the next CBA negotiations if they really see this as being a major problem. But if these were actually seen as being critical they probably wouldn’t have agreed to make them voluntary in the first place.

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