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Surprising candor from Coach Zorn on contracts

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First, in case you missed it, the Redskins started OTAs (Organized Team Activities -- like twister and tag and if no one gets hurt they get capri suns when it is all over with pb and j sammiches (no crusts!!)) sans the rookies. Gary Fitzgerald says:

With the three-day mini-camp over, the Redskins moved right into voluntary Organized Team Activity sessions on Monday.

Gone were the rookies, 23 in all, and tryout players.

Rookies returned to their respective colleges to complete their spring classes. Most will return in early June for a final series of OTA practices.

Word on offense growing pains is that the team is struggling slightly with the apparently long snap counts we plan to employ this coming season. If the Seahawks could make it work at Qwest field under the loudest conditions in the NFL, I have every faith we can make good under Coach Zorn on handling our business at scrimmage. Now, if we could just pipe in some crowd noise...

Kidding. I think piping in crowd noise is chicken poopey strategy for cowards. It is on fans to show up and be loud and make that other guy's quarterback hear your clever wit from the upper deck even if it means scaring the kids and possibly doing permanent damage to your voice box  in the process. Any idiot can operate a noise machine. John Henry beat the steam-drill.

In other good news, Shawn Springs is about. Remember that a year ago Shawn Springs didn't make it back to Redskins camp for voluntary workouts, instead choosing to stay in Arizona. On accident. Because he lost his phone (hey athletes really are like the rest of us!). "That happens." <-- direct quote from Springs. It's a miracle players ever made it to voluntary team meetings before the invention of the cell phone. Did they? I'm just a kid.

Elsewhere, a Jim Zorn quote from the article caught my eye but I want to tread carefully for fear that I'll misintrepret it -- that's common 'round here. To begin with, I was always under the impression that, though everyone knew the game, no one was willing to speak of it. And "the game" is where the player agitates (by, for instance, missing all voluntary team meetings) to get traded. Maybe I'm wrong in that, because we've been blessed (spoiled, lucky?) to have avoided the worst of the emerging normal player negotiation strategy where the best way to increase your paycheck is to decrease your worth to the people currently holding rights. We're especially lucky given that the strategy was made famous by Drew Rosenhaus, and he represents some Redskins. To quote his own website (quoting to elsewhere, mind you):

Wildly successful agent Drew Rosenhaus has never experienced a player holdout he didn't enjoy.

I have a number of concerns with this strategy from a team standpoint, but we'll get to those momentarily. Again, proceeding slowly, I was under the impression that coaches and owners didn't typically even acknowledge this strategy, let alone any of its merits (for the player). And then we get this, from the Gary Fitzgerald
, emphasis added:

Zorn said he expects players to attend the voluntary OTAs unless they have an excused absence.

He jokingly calls OTA practices "voluntary mandatory."

He added: "These are voluntary, but we've made our points as coaches that we need everybody here. We're not doing anything more or different than other teams. Other teams have OTAs and other teams want their players [to attend] as well.

"If you have a contract issue or you're disgruntled--there are a thousand reasons [to not attend OTAs]. But if you don't show up just because you didn't want to show up, I think that's wrong."

Unfortunately I think he's right. If you do have contract issues than, if you're going to miss anything, it might as well be voluntary workouts. But I'd be more content with new head coach Jim Zorn not being so naked about the entire thing. I'd prefer fire-and-brimstone-you-damn-well-better-show-up else dogs with bees in their mouths that shoot the bees at you when they bark will get you. Then again, maybe that's why I'm not an NFL head coach.

Personally, I have a real problem with players agitating over contracts. If you sign a contract, you should honor it. The typical justification for that move (and admittedly, I'm now in fisticuffs with a straw man, which isn't especially fair to the opposing position) goes something like: Well teams can cut players whenever they want, so why shouldn't players be able to negotiate new contracts?

I'd respond that they negotiated a binding contract that included the terms they, the player (and in most cases, to greater degree, their agents), is now sour on. Teams are indeed free to cut players, but there's nothing preventing players, far as I can tell, from demanding no-cut clauses in their contracts. They don't, obviously, because it would dramatically reduce the amount the other party to the contract was willing to dish out. But practically speaking, players do write into their contracts defenses against arbitrary cuts and general team meanie face cruelty towards the player -- NFL contracts provide guaranteed moneys.

The obvious retort, and I don't much like granting it, is that missing the OTAs isn't messing with the contract and, in any event, teams pony up to the table just as players do, and if they wanted mandatory Team Activities they could force the issue, but don't. Let me make it clear that I'm not suggesting any player, ever, in the history of the sport, has had a contractual responsibility to show up to a voluntary workout. What I am offering is merely a mini-rant against the general strategy of contractual agitation. If you sign a contract, you should honor it. And you should honor not merely the technical word of it, but also its spirit, which includes not seeking a breach. (To [those players who do agitate] credit, I'm sure they could give a deuce about my "respect" but should care about their moral responsibility to their families, who depend on the player's financial compensation.)

But what am I complaining 'bout?

The Redskins had full attendance for Monday's OTA practice.

Hail to that, at least for now.