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Over the course of the last few days, players from teams across the NFL have been exercising their right not to attend in-person voluntary offseason workouts. There have been short statements released by the players of each organization who choose to do so, detailing their stance on the matter and their decision not to participate. Players from the Baltimore Ravens are the latest bunch to announce that they won’t be showing up in-person for workouts, releasing a statement on Saturday via the NFLPA.
With the Coronavirus pandemic still present, the Ravens and other teams want to put their safety first and navigate through as much of a virtual offseason as they can. While not every single thing can be virtual, players want to protect themselves and their families, and doing things virtually right now is safer than gathering in person, even with distancing guidelines in place.
NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith has said that players should sit out voluntary workouts. In an interview with SportsCenter, Smith told the show that coaches make the workouts seem mandatory, even though in reality they’re voluntary.
“I think what a lot of players have said that they’ve heard from their coaches is that they need to show up. We’ve known for years that this is a voluntary workout where a lot of coaches put their finger on the scale and, while they call it voluntary, they expect players to show up.”
Smith also made the point that this could likely be the first time that some players have said “no” to their coaches and doing what they feel is best for them instead.
“I think that what you’re seeing now is for the first time players exercising their voice … to say ‘no.’ And frankly it’s probably one of the few times that coaches have ever heard players say ‘no.’ And for some players, it’s probably the first time they’ve said ‘no’ to their coach.”
With the NFL releasing the schedule for the first few phases of the 2021 offseason program a few days ago, it makes sense that players from across the league are letting their plans be known now, and why the Ravens released their statement on Saturday. When something is listed as voluntary, that means it’s not mandatory and shouldn’t be felt as a requirement, so whether teams decide to show up or not is completely up to them. Baltimore took the the latter option and decided to stay virtual.