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  • Is it time to cancel fun, or time to admit that these practices aren't as crucial as they're made out to be?
By Conor Orr
June 14, 2019

These past few weeks saw the end of mandatory minicamp for several NFL teams and, true to form, a number of clubs choreographed a day off for some kind of team bonding activity.

The Broncos had a field dayThe Jets went golfingThe Buccaneers got their workout cancelled thanks to a made field goal by Cairo SantosThe Bills canceled practice for a team bonding activity. The Raiders canceled their final practiceThe Patriots canceled their final two days of OTAs and went paintballing.

These moments are fun. It’s something your high school coach might have done. It’s block and tackle coaching, revealing (slightly) the inner lightheartedness behind your outward autocrat. But does it also undermine the overarching message from most coaches when it comes to offseason workouts?

See if you can follow my logic here: If coaches generally take the stance that voluntary offseason activities and mandatory minicamp are essential, or important enough to huff and puff when players don’t show up (remember Freddie Kitchens saying “the offense” was being installed in Odell Beckham Jr.’s absence?), why squander a portion of that precious time?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m in full support of any player who feels he can get a better, more peaceful workout at home with clearer headspace during voluntary workouts. The garble about “togetherness” and “setting the tempo from the top down” was hurled out the window the day Tom Brady stopped showing up and the Patriots still won the Super Bowl. Is it fair to wonder if coaches aren’t doing themselves any favors by basically saying “Oh yeah, this is vital, but whatever, let’s dunk John Elway in a water booth.”

I think, if coaches wanted to better define their stances on offseason workouts, they could go about it one of two ways:

1) Cement yourself as a player’s coach, and continue slicing days off. Make it clear that these days are for the younger players who need work, or general polishing from an NFL perspective and that, if they have any desire to make an NFL roster, they should probably hang around and make themselves visible.

2) Be the autocrat and demand that everyone shows up. Want your players to fall into line? Come out and say that they should show up, regardless of whether or not its voluntary, and incur the fine. Show your players that you are willing to sacrifice something, too, even if it’s merely financial.

Or, 3) keep doing what your doing, send mixed messages, play both sides of the fence and get upset when your players decide to do the same thing.

The choice is yours!

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