Pondering voluntary work

Posted by Darren Urban on May 10, 2010 – 11:07 am

This time of year, every NFL city considers what is voluntary, and what is not. And what it should mean.

I was thinking about it today when I read the story about Albert Haynesworth staying away from Redskins’ work, and how his teammates reacted. I thought about it some more when I noticed Darnell Dockett — who famously had been scarce the last couple of offseasons during voluntary work — once again taking part with John Lott today. I think back to every player I’ve talked to over the years about the voluntary nature of the voluntary workouts. Technically true, but there are so many reasons why the pull is there for the players to show — at least some of the time. Said safety Kerry Rhodes back in March, “It’s voluntary, so to speak. But if you’re not here, people notice. Not even just coaches, players see when other guys aren’t here, and some guys take that a certain way.”

The players’ association always makes it clear it’s about being a volunteer and there can be no repercussions. But as the Cards come up on the beginning of organized team activities — all of which are voluntary — there is actual work being done. Things are installed. The Cards will go over it again in training camp, but like anything else, the more you do something, the better you are at it.

Now, obviously some guys will be absent for some of the OTAs (for instance, I know safety Adrian Wilson will miss a couple at the end of the sessions to return home to North Carolina). But I’d expect most to be there most of the time. In my opinion — and it’s mine, I’m certainly not speaking for the team or the coaches (not that I ever do) — it’s not that bad, not spending an hour or so on the field 14 times for some training camp prep work. Missing a couple doesn’t matter. I look at it the same way as an unsigned rookie at the beginning of camp — if a guy misses four or five days, in the grand scheme, it’s meaningless.

In the end, I’d probably show. I can think of harder ways to stay on top of your job. You get to hang with teammates, your coaches are probably happier, so it’s worth it.

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Posted in Blog | 19 Comments »

19 Responses to “Pondering voluntary work”

  1. By TBru on May 10, 2010 | Reply

    If I was getting a hundred million, I am pretty sure I would comply with whatever my employer wanted from me

  2. By darrenurban on May 10, 2010 | Reply

    TBru —

    Well, to be fair, there aren’t that many players collecting that big of a paycheck.

  3. By vsancards on May 10, 2010 | Reply

    I think it is tough for players who live out of town. I just read Peter King’s note about Tom Brady and how he now has to commit to family. I know if my Dad was an NFL star and knowing he would be gone for a good 6 months, it would be hard for me to accept him being gone even longer for volunteer work.

  4. By darrenurban on May 10, 2010 | Reply

    Vsan —

    Understood. Although I never really got the idea of living elsewhere. Your career isn’t that long and you can live wherever you want after you are in the NFL. Can’t you have your family in your city during your playing days? UPDATE: Although in the case of Brady, who isn’t with his son’s mother, he can’t force them to live in the same city, so there are circumstances to get through.

  5. By kingdiamond on May 10, 2010 | Reply

    While OTA’s may be voluntary under a labor agreement, it is not in terms of team unity and mutual effort. For instance, if a guard does not show up for drills, his teammates lose vital time developing chemistry and trust in their playmaking skills. For those that show up only when they have to, it sends a message that they are above the team. Unfortunately, it also shows up in missed assignments and stupid penalties. As a result, the team suffers and the player, despite great potential, does not progress as he should have after say four years.

  6. By Don't Take Losses on May 10, 2010 | Reply

    Good comments D. Bottom line: Professionals and Unions are antithetical. The Professional, in any profession, does what he needs to do to be prepared, without being told. My compliments to the Cards players, we got a lot of professionals using very good jugdment.. Bravo to the front office and Coaches for assembling this group of high character pros as well. This may be another special season.

  7. By chris freeman on May 10, 2010 | Reply

    Darren –

    Noticed we have signed rb Ali Chrles, at age 25 do u believe arizona during camp may try to filter out older veteran rb Wright and have a fully youthful rb core going into 2010 season

  8. By darrenurban on May 10, 2010 | Reply

    Chris —

    Charles Ali has already been in the league since 2007 and Nehemiah Broughton has been around since 2005. I think they are set at FB and will try to find a guy from what they have.

  9. By chris freeman on May 10, 2010 | Reply

    forget last comment –

    noticed he is on depth chart as fullback,but that is some size at full back , between him (6’2 255) and Mauia (6’0 260) hopefuilly they play like running linemen

  10. By Jesse Robles on May 10, 2010 | Reply

    With that being said, what is the percentage of guys that are going in there and lifting with Lott and still working out at the Facility daily? I like to see Dockett in there, just wondering if the rookies like Washington have come back and continued to work out?

  11. By darrenurban on May 10, 2010 | Reply

    Jesse —

    Rookies aren’t allowed back until OTAs start. Most of the vets continue to show.

  12. By Rich on May 10, 2010 | Reply

    I feel for ya, Darren. We need something you can write about……..its slow out there!

  13. By mo on May 10, 2010 | Reply


    I know this is off-topic, but I’ve wondered: Do you have any sense from being around the players these ‘off-season’ months whether the pundits’ predictions bother them or give extra motivation to work hard throughout the spring and summer? It seems like half the civilized world is predicting the 49ers will win the West. Warner’s gone. Dansby’s gone. Etc. The Cards are toast — that, in effect, is the narrative on the national level. What do the players seem to think about that?

  14. By darrenurban on May 10, 2010 | Reply

    Mo —

    I think, in general, the players could care less what is being said right now. Most aren’t paying attention.

  15. By AndyStandsUp on May 10, 2010 | Reply

    Now though, it’s much more prevalent for guys to have an incentive bonus kicked in for “volunteering” than in the past.
    Correct me if I wrong Darren, but with the limited time allowed(no more than 4 days a week, no more than 4 hours a day and “practices” no longer than 90 minutes) this is John Lott’s time to ingrain on conditioning and teamwork.

  16. By darrenurban on May 11, 2010 | Reply

    AndyStands —

    You are correct on both points.

  17. By Michael from stl on May 11, 2010 | Reply

    wow im a little mad i was on and there was this video about Pete Carrol and the Seahawks and i looked at the comments nd people had the nerve to say that seatle would be one becasue how they drafted 49ers would be 2 just because but there lacking a qb nd the Cards would be at the bottom with the Rams because of our offseason ig uess if they paid enough attention they would know that we filled every positon we need besides cb, i hate people who make comments and they dont know what they are talking about

  18. By wjflores on May 11, 2010 | Reply

    I think that this is a part of why Kurt Warner retired. He knew what kind of commitment he would have to make again and given his age and his current situation with Brenda and his kids makes the retirement make sense in many ways. He wasn’t going to commit to another year if he wasn’t able or willing to put in 110%.
    Bottom line, show up to every team function you possibly can. Not only do you have one of the greatest and best paying jobs in the world, you have been given an oppurtunity that the majority of us could only dream about.

    PS-Darren – whats with espn and thinking that jamarcus russell and marc bulger are on their way to Arizona? Are they losing their marbles?

  19. By darrenurban on May 11, 2010 | Reply

    WJFlores –

    Yes, I think ESPN may be marbles-less on this subject.

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