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 Thursday. He didn’t mention either by name, but they are the only two players on the roster who are not at the workouts.
“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, choosing to remain in Nashville, Tennessee, and work out at his father’s training facility. But Smith’s absence was a surprise 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 to attend.
Coach Doug Marrone said Tuesday that he had not gotten a response after reaching out to both players to find out if they planned to return 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 and prohibits anyone from threatening players to participate in voluntary workouts,” Winston said in a statement. “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.”
The Jaguars’ 5-11 season in 2018 was a huge disappointment — the seventh time in the past eight years the team has lost 11 or more games — and Marrone said at his end-of-season news conference that he wanted 100 percent participation in the offseason program. Coughlin clearly did too.
“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.”