All NFL teams have them. Whether it is an off-season mini-camp or OTA's, every team has a voluntary aspect to the off-season program. So why is it such big news when they don't show? There is no live contact (tackling, blocking, pass rushing etc..) and attendance is voluntary. Yet, we are constantly being reminded of players around the NFL that aren't present.
Hakeem Nicks decided to skip OTA's for the Giants and Tom Coughlin isn't too happy about it. This is the same Coughlin that fines his players for being on time.
I get it. Being an NFL player is an extremely sought after position and you would think (as a player) you would do everything you could to maintain your career. Coaches want the best from their athletes and want them to show up for everything.
The part that annoys me is that it's called voluntary. The fact that someone did not do something that is NOT REQUIRED of them, should not be news. To get through the negotiations with the CBA, there are some activities that have to be labeled as voluntary. A coach putting someone on blast because they didn't show up for an activity that they are not necessarily required to show up for, is a joke.
The stories I want to hear are the ones like what Patrick Willis did for his voluntary workouts. Not only did he show up, he is being praised for not missing a single rep. Not one weight lifting rep, practice rep or anything else the 49ers may have done. When one of your best players, also makes an effort to be the hardest worker, what kind of tone does that set for the team? When the star doesn't take off even a single rep, how would you feel skipping an entire mini-camp?
Maybe Coughlin should be less annoyed with Nicks, and more annoyed the rest of the guys don't handle the situation themselves. You know, maybe a bar of soap in a sock type punishment?
I don't mean to pick on Nicks, there are many players that have skipped their voluntary (mandatory) workouts (including our very own Andre Smith):
- Eagles cornerback Cary Williams
- Texans linebacker Tim Dobbins
- Eagles left tackle Jason Peters
- Marshawn Lynch Seahawks RB
- Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes
- Dolphins Safety Reshad Jones
- Bears offensive lineman Gabe Carimi
Some of these players are stars, and are probably safe in their position on the roster. Others are fighting for roster spots or contracts. It makes you wonder what the difference in mentality is from player to player on whether or not they attend their voluntary activities. Personally, I like to think I would be one of the guys who did attend.