Back in April, one by one, the majority of NFL teams put out a statement, through the NFLPA that they would not be attending voluntary workouts this offseason. The Raiders were among those teams.
And yet, here we are, a little over a month later, and the Raiders had nearly their entire team on the field to begin OTA’s. There were only a handful of players who weren’t in attendance. And as these workouts are voluntary, I feel no need to call out those players by name.
A lot has happened between now and then, mind you. The vaccine is more readily available across the country, including to young people. That can change things. And once enough players decide it’s safe to attend, others follow suit.
“I think it’s a competitive advantage for us to be here working right now,” said veteran left guard Richie Incognito. “We’re a young team, we’re learning a new defense. Offense, we’re trying to sharpen our tools to be more productive, put up more points, put more pressure on teams, and it’s just great. It’s great for team building, great to be around the guys. Coach Gruden is taking good care of us as far as walk throughs and keeping things down tempo, but it was important for us. The offseason kind of started off with the NFLPA and their agenda and we released a statement, but a couple days later we came together, and we were like listen, other teams are working, we are at a competitive disadvantage if we’re not working. Let’s get our asses back there and get to work.”
It’s true. The Raiders were no doubt noticing that even those teams that had also put out statements they would not attend had decided ultimately to attend their team’s OTA practices.
Regardless of any perceived “agenda” by the NFLPA, their job is to ensure no players are singled out and pressured to put themselves in a position they deem unsafe. When those statements were put out, there were some concerns by some players about their safety. And even if the vast majority are not concerned, the NFLPA must act in accordance with the players who are.
It must also be noted that the few players who were not there may just be opting to work out on their own for other reasons not related to safety concerns. We don’t know. We don’t ask. Voluntary means voluntary.
Mandatory minicamp will take place June 15-17.
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