Jaguars VP Tom Coughlin makes voluntary workouts sound pretty mandatory

Jaguars VP Tom Coughlin makes voluntary workouts sound pretty mandatory

While the NFL was mum, the NFLPA pushed back Thursday afternoon after Jaguars executive VP Tom Coughlin’s less-than-subtle comments earlier in the day that made his team’s voluntary offseason conditioning program sound less-than-voluntary.

Speaking to reporters about about participation in the offseason program, Coughlin said ( via ):

“We’re very close to 100 percent attendance, and quite frankly, our players should be here building the concept of team, working hard side by side, constructing our bond of togetherness, formulating our collective priorities and goals.

“Success in the NFL demands struggle. Those who have everything given to them become lazy, selfish and insensitive to the real values of team. The hard work that many try to avoid is the major building block for the development of an outstanding football team.

“It’s not about rights and privileges. It’s about obligations and responsibility, and the question is: Can we count on you?”

With those remarks, Coughlin was calling out cornerback Jalen Ramsey and linebacker Telvin Smith, without identifying them by name, because according to multiple reports they were the only two players not present this week for the voluntary workouts.

However, per ProFootballTalk , Article 21, Section 5(a) of the NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, includes this directive: “No Club official may indicate to a player that the Club’s offseason workout program or classroom instruction is not voluntary.”

In a tweeted response from the union, prefaced with a pointed “there seems to be some confusion over what a voluntary workout actually means,” NFLPA president Eric Winston said:

“Our CBA definition of voluntary is the same as the actual definition of voluntary and prohibits anyone from threatening players to participate in voluntary workouts. This is precisely the reason players negotiated strict work rules and bright lines when it comes to offseason activities. We know, from experience, that not all coaches and executives will adhere to them and we always pursue any violations to protect our rules.”

Coughlin and the NFLPA have butted heads before about offseason workouts, among other issues, as covered by the CBA.

The NFL declined to comment on Coughlin’s comments, according to PFT.

Coach Doug Marrone told reporters on Tuesday that he had tried to contact both players to see if they planned to be in Jacksonville any time ahead of mandatory minicamp June 11-13, but he said he got no response.

The Jaguars were a huge disappointment in 2018, going 5-11 after what some thought was a breakout season the year before at 10-6. Last season marked the seventh time in eight years that Jacksonville lost 11 or more games.

That, perhaps, explains Coughlin’s impatience: “Championship teams are dominated by selfless individuals who recognize that the welfare of the team must always be paramount to any other consideration.”