There are certainly times at which it seems at though nobody likes the NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, the most recent edition of which was hammered out, following contentious disputes, in 2011. We have heard the players, the owners, and the coaches all complain about various aspects, but the nature of compromise is such that nobody is ever fully happy.
According to NFLPA president Eric Winston, however, the only ones who really seem to have an issue with the level of contact that coaches can have with their players in the early portion of the offseason is the coaches themselves. The coaches were kind of left out in the cold in the negotiations between the NFL (the owners) and the NFLPA (the players).
This issue came to the foreground once again when veteran head coach Jon Gruden returned to those ranks, his first time back in that official capacity under the new CBA. He expressed frustration with how the CBA has change the game since he was last coaching, and voiced his displeasure over the fact that he can’t do much more than introduce himself to his players right now.
But Winston told Pro Football Talk that he is not hearing from his constituents (e.g., the players) that this is a problem for them or that they believe that it is hurting their development. “I haven’t been confronted by a bunch of players that want to go in earlier”, he said. “That’s where we’re at. I think a lot of players are really comfortable going to their own spots they like to work out at. They have their guys, their trainers at their home base, whether it’s somewhere they went to college, whatever it might be”.
Many players, perhaps most players, do have their alternative venues where they train in the offseason, which comes out of their own pockets. It wouldn’t be surprising if many players do prefer the ability to train on their own during that portion of the offseason. Ironically, some players have gone to Gruden in the past.
Gruden’s biggest issue was the inability to talk football at this time of year. Winston’s response was that “there will be plenty of time for that”, saying that, “again, none of these players, whether they’re quarterbacks or younger players, at the end of the season ever say ‘yeah, man, if I just had a little bit more time early on, I would have got it.’ That’s the thing”.
If there is a large number of players who are concerned about this facet of the CBA, then it would be wise if they see to it that their voices are heard and communicated through their representation, including Winston, who is himself still an active player.
“I think that’s just where I keep landing on this is that whether you start March 15th or April 1st, late April, whatever it is, there’s plenty of time to get it in”, Winston added. “And if you’re a good coach and you know how to communicate and to teach, you’ll get that stuff in”.