Tom Coughlin criticizes absent players, drawing NFLPA response
And that has led to a war of words with the players' union.
With players in town for the start of the offseason program, the Jaguars held their annual state of the franchise address Thursday. During his four-minute turn at the podium, team executive vice president of football operations Tom Coughlin spoke about team attendance -- or lack thereof.
"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," Coughlin said, per ESPN. "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?"
According to multiple reports, the specific players Coughlin was criticizing for not being in attendance are Ramsey and starting linebacker Telvin Smith.
Last offseason, Ramsey worked out on his own at his father's training facility in Nashville, Tenn. The All-Pro also stayed away from the team's mandatory minicamp last June.
"How do I put this the nicest way possible?" Ramsey said at the time last season. "I don't think any of my teammates had an issue because they know I was going to come back ready. But at the same time, if they did, I don't think I would care because once I get out here I know what I was doing was the right thing for me."
As for Smith, he has reportedly been at every team offseason workout since the club drafted him in 2014. Head coach Doug Marrone told reporters Tuesday that he had yet to hear from either player after reaching out to them to ask if they would attend.
Following Coughlin's comments, the NFLPA tweeted out a statement from president Eric Winston, not specifically addressed to Coughlin or referencing Coughlin's comments, but with the message, "Since there seems to [be] some confusion over what a voluntary workout actually means...#NFLPA President @ericwinston."
Winston's statement read:
"Our CBA definition of voluntary is the same as the actual definition 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."