Let me just say, my beef isn’t with the Ravens. It’s with the league, and actually, with the Players’ Association. In the last CBA, they decided they wanted to cut down on the work the players were being asked to do under the guise of protecting them from injury now, and the ramifications later in life. So, they reduced the number of practices as well as the amount of hitting in practice.
That makes sense, right?
However, I don’t think it was just about that. I think there is also a contingent of older players who just wanted to cut down on the commitment overall.
The season ends late December/early January. All but 4 teams are done by mid-January. That is 3 months without any communication with your employer if you are a player, and no access to your coaches.
If you are a young player, do you really want over 3 months off, with no chance to get better, to be taught, to be coached. Sure, you can work out, but that isn’t what will make you better. These young players need a chance to get better. If they want to meet with their coaches in March, if they want to get on a field and practice technique, they ought to be able to. If they want to sit in a film room with a coach and dissect film on March 17th, they should be able to.
I know there is the concern that once you make it voluntary, it really becomes mandatory because the coaches will put the pressure on players who aren’t “volunteering”. I would suggest some kind of compromise where players entering their 2nd or 3rd year are allowed to come in beginning in March 3 days a week, or something like that. Or players that played in less than a certain amount of games, or snaps or some other criteria are allowed to practice. Somebody like Matt Furstenberg, who spent last year on the practice squad, should be allowed to be at the Ravens facility doing more than just lifting weights.
However, I think part of this is that the veterans who voted in this policy in the CBA don’t want Matt Furstenberg getting in extra work to get better and eventually take their job.
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