RAIDERS GET KNUCKLES RAPPED FOR OFFSEASON CONTACT
Finally, the NFL Players Association has taken action against one of the league's 32 teams for violating the rules regarding offseason workouts.
And, ironically, the franchise on the wrong end of the ruling is the same team for which NFLPA executive director Gene Upshaw once played.
Per a league source, the Oakland Raiders have been disciplined for violating the prohibition against offseason contact found in Article XXXV of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. According to the source, the problem arose from the intensity and tempo of the team's offseason practices.
But the penalty is minimal. Since all so-called Organized Training Activities have been completed in Oakland, the team will lose only one week of player workout time. Specifically, players will be prohibited from lifting weights or conducting any conditioning work at the club's facility during the week of June 18. Players otherwise would have been allowed to spend up to four days at the facility.
Despite language in the CBA indicating that coaches can be fined for violations of the offseason workout rules, we're told that no fine will be imposed on first-year coach Lane Kiffin.
It's unclear whether the issue arose because of a player complaint or because the NFLPA decided to act on its own. If a player complains, the union must investigate; the NFLPA otherwise has discretion as to whether an inquiry may be launched.
We're told that the process began with a letter from the union requesting video of certain practices. On Friday, the ruling was issued.
Moving forward, the question is whether this was an isolated incident, or whether the NFLPA will begin to do something about blatant violations of the no-contact rules. Just this week, there was clear evidence in the media that the Seahawks have been engaging in bump-and-run pass defense during offseason workouts. (The bump-and-run technique is listed in the CBA as one of the banned practices.) Also, Browns rookie tackle Joe Thomas said that the contact during offseason workouts in Cleveland has been more intense than the in-season practices with pads that he attended at Wisconsin. On Thursday, the Giants placed fullback Jim Finn on injured reserve after suffering a torn labrum while delivering a block during a practice in which there should have been no blocking.
As a matter of basic fairness, then, the union should start investigations in any city where there is reason to believe that the rules have been violated. We've got a feeling, quite frankly, that violations likely have occurred in every city.