JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey responded on Friday to Tom Coughlin’s criticism of his absence from voluntary workouts, saying that the team knows why he’s not there and that he’ll show up in shape when attendance is mandatory.
Ramsey did not elaborate on what those reasons are. Neither did his agent, David Mulugheta, who also tweeted a statement on Friday afternoon.
“Fully aware” & “voluntary” meaning I don’t HAVE to be there BUT they know the EXACT REASONS I am not. My teammates know it’s ALL love & know I’ll be ready when it’s time! 💯 https://t.co/NASgnu6egT
— Jalen Ramsey (@jalenramsey) April 19, 2019
Ramsey and linebacker Telvin Smith are the only two players on the Jaguars roster not attending the voluntary offseason conditioning program, which began last Monday. Coughlin, the Jaguars’ executive vice president of football operations, called out the two players during his four-minute speech at the team’s annual state of the franchise presentation on Thursday, though he didn’t mention either by name.
“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. “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?”
It’s not a surprise that Ramsey isn’t in attendance because he didn’t participate last year, either, choosing instead to remain in Nashville and work out at his father’s training facility. It was a surprise that Smith wasn’t, though, because he had attended the voluntary offseason program every year since he was drafted in 2014, and the team had no indication that he wasn’t planning on attending.
Coach Doug Marrone said Tuesday that he had not gotten a response after reaching out to both players to find out if they planned on returning before the mandatory minicamp June 11-13.
NFLPA president Eric Winston was not happy about Coughlin’s comments and said the players’ union will not let them stand unchallenged.
“Our CBA definition of voluntary is the same as the actual definition of voluntary and prohibits anyone from threatening players to participate in voluntary workouts,” Winston said. “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.”
Coach Doug Marrone said at his end-of-season news conference he wanted 100 percent participation in the offseason program and Coughlin intimated that Ramsey and Smith were acting selfishly by not being with their teammates.
“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.”