ESPN New Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Cary Williams has failed to endear himself to the club’s fan base because he’s been absent from multiple voluntary team activities that were held over the past few weeks. Williams, who joined the Eagles this offseason after playing the past four years with the Baltimore Ravens, has missed OTAs for a variety of reasons, including his daughter’s dance recital, dental work, construction on his house and his wedding. Williams joined “The Mike Missanelli Show” on 97.5 The Fanatic Philadelphia to address the absences. “Teams, organizations, the NFL itself hold players captive over the OTAs,” he said. “They say it’s not mandatory but it’s mandatory, you know what I’m saying? If you want me to be there, if you want me to play football year-round, you don’t want me to not have an offseason, you don’t want me to have a personal life, let me know.” Williams dismissed the notion the Eagles may be upset with his comments. “I really don’t care. I told them what the situation was and we had a communication and that’s what it was,” he said. Williams’ three-year deal with the Eagles is worth $17.5 million — $10.5 million guaranteed, according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter. Williams says family is a priority for him. “What kills me is people talk about how much money I make,” Williams said. “Like that’s still gonna take away from me wanting to be a great dad and a good family man. I have no off days during the season. I hope y’all understand that; there’s no off days. I can’t come to work and say, ‘Oh, my head hurts. I can’t make it today,’ because my job requires much more than that.” As for what Williams has to say to the passionate Philadelphia fans, “I don’t have nothing to say to the fans, man. You’ll see me on Sunday. You’ll see me flying around making plays. That’s it. That’s all you’re gonna see. I don’t have to explain myself to anybody.”
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell needs to fix the issue of Non-Mandatory OTAs immediately, because it is a major issue, which is causing players to fall out of favor with their teams. I think this all stems from New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin, who gets very upset when players do not attend OTAs, and calls those players out in the media. It is happening right now with wide receiver Hakeem Nicks, who has not given the Giants a reason, but is currently skipping their OTAs. There are two sides to to issue:
1 ) The activities, by definition, are not mandatory. Players have lives and families, they should not be forced to be at the team facility when they are not contractually obligated to be there. If attendance at these activities are not mandatory, then it is up to the player if they attend or not. The player understands the risk they are taking by skipping these sessions, especially in Carey Williams’ case, were a new coaching staff is implementing a new system. Other, often younger players are getting the reps in his place, and he may fall out of favor with the coaching staff by skipping these non-mandatory workouts. Players that show up turn into team leaders who look good in the eyes of the organization and the fans.
2 ) You are getting paid millions of dollars to play a game, so show up to work, mandatory or not. The entire fan base of your organization wishes they could see their son’s baseball games or go to their daughter’s dance recital, but we need to bust our asses at our jobs to out food on the table for those kids, so we are forced to miss them. Carey Williams is guaranteed over ten million dollars over the next three seasons to do a job that we all wish we had. Is it too much to ask for him to show up to work? Any fan of the Eagles would trade jobs and salaries with Williams in a cocaine heartbeat.
I think it is up to the commissioner to make a decision on this issue. Players think that they should be allowed to skip these optional team activities. Teams think that these players should be in attendance. The grey areas in the wording is causing a lot of misunderstanding between players and their organizations, and I think that the league should step in and fix this problem, and clarify exactly when veterans should be in attendance. Depending on which side of the argument you are on, the coaches look like dictators or the players look like lazy divas, and neither looks good for the league.