Jacksonville and Detroit became the third and fourth teams to cancel OTAs after players complained about the workouts. Have today's players turned into delicate little doilies, or is it the hand of the union at work in advance of contentious CBA negotiations?
It happens now and again; an anonymous whistleblower goes to the NFLPA, claiming his team's offseason program is too intense, or too time-consuming. The union goes to the league, and the two make a joint decision to cancel some of that team's scheduled OTA days.
Last week it was the Ravens; then, two days later, the Raiders. Today, the Jaguars announced they're canceling the rest of their OTAs, followed quickly by the Lions. Four instances in one offseason could be a coincidence, but it's unlikely in the context of the NFLPA's running battle with the league.
The CBA's up after this season, and it doesn't look like it's going to be re-negotiated in a friendly sit-down over afternoon tea. What better way to make a statement than to beg off those most extraneous of football activities, the OTAs? We won't go so far as to say that this is any kind of organized union action, but at least one of the initial complaints came directly from the team's union rep.
It's one of a number of minor issues that would likely have never come to the fore had the league and union not been engaged in a spat. Kevin Mawae believe he's still unsigned because he's the president of the NFLPA. The league wants to change the overtime rules over the protests of players. The seemingly inevitable expansion to an 18-game season has hit a snag in that players would want to be paid more.
Look for more of this type of thing as preseason rolls on. Players holding out as they want to get new contracts inked before a potentially weaker CBA goes into effect. Mysterious nagging injuries keeping an unusual number of players sidelined. It's all just warming up for the real fireworks next year.