Dear NFL players,
Despite what you may read and hear, you don’t have to attend organized team activities. This is not conditional, and your job status cannot be affected by your absence. OTAs are voluntary. In fact, they’re “strictly voluntary,” according to the collective bargaining agreement all of you negotiated through your union. It doesn’t matter whether you’re an established star like Eric Berry or Odell Beckham Jr., a rookie undrafted free agent trying to make an impression, or a career practice squadder clinging to one last chance at making someone’s 53-man roster. That “strictly voluntary” designation applies to all of you.
I bring this up because you’ve probably seen plenty of reports about the absence of some of your peers from OTAs. These news items almost always gesture at the reality that OTAs are indeed voluntary, but they’re often framed to give the impression that the word “voluntary” has some elastic definition.
“Voluntary or not, coaches want their players to participate—especially since the players who play for their competitors are doing just that,” said one.
“[OTAs are] a voluntary practice opportunity but one that coaches encourage with gusto,” said another.
“And everyone should know that if you have a history of defiance, deciding to skip work, even if…