Tom Coughlin is hearing from more than the NFL players' union after indirectly criticizing veterans like Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey this week for skipping the team's voluntary workouts.
Friday on Twitter, it was Ramsey's turn to indirectly respond to Coughlin, the Jaguars' executive vice president of football operations.
"'Fully aware'" & 'voluntary' meaning I don't HAVE to be there BUT they know the EXACT REASONS I am not," Ramsey wrote. "My teammates know it's ALL love & know I'll be ready when it's time!"
Ramsey didn't provide any more details, but his agent, David Mulugheta, also tweeted a response: "To be clear, Jalen Ramsey is exactly where Jalen should be during his off season. He's spending time with his young daughter & family while training in his hometown of Nashville. In addition the Jags are fully aware of why he is not taking part in the voluntary off season program."
During his four-minute turn at the podium for the Jaguars' annual state of the franchise address Thursday, Coughlin spoke about team attendance -- or lack thereof -- for the offseason program that began Monday.
"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, via 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 were Ramsey and starting linebacker Telvin Smith.
Following Coughlin's comments, the NFLPA tweeted 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."
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 find out whether would return before the mandatory minicamp June 11-13.
At his end-of-season news conference, Marrone indicated he wanted 100-percent participation in the offseason program. Coughlin suggested that Ramsey and Smith were being selfish for not participating.
"Championship teams have one common denominator," Coughlin said. "They're comprised of individuals who have a burning desire to win, to be champions. Championship teams are dominated by selfless individuals who recognize that the welfare of the team must always be paramount to any other consideration."
--Field Level Media