I'm really not sure what the OTAs are for. I guess they are an opportunity for the coaches to do some kind of work with the players. I know they all wear shorts when it happens, something I can definitely identify with, but I'm not sure the value of working in shorts is the same for a professional soccer player as for the home –
bound ] based on sports media dead-enders of middle-management.
The most important aspect of OTAs, from what I can say, is that it gives us something to shout about when a player does not attend these inconsequential early summer training sessions.
Last year, Odell Beckham Jr. skipped the OTAs with the Giants because he wanted a new contract (okay, there's a second reason why OTAs are important: leverage). There was much consternation, especially after he had the audacity to enjoy sailing on his day off before the Giants' tiebreaker loss to the Packers.
In fact, I had to look up when OBJ took his infamous boat ride because that (silly) story got confused with his omission of the offseason shorts.
This year's high profile OTA skipper is Tom Brady. Gasp.
Rob Gronkowski is also out. Julio Jones will not be at the Falcons' OTA, and Aaron Donald will miss them for the second year in a row. And there are probably many other low profile players that the media types do not have time to criticize publicly. In addition, tradition only requires that we crucify a player by omitting OTA, so this year it is Brady who is dying for all sinners.
These OTA sessions are actually the third phase of New England's low season volunteer program. Brady also missed the first two sessions. In addition, they are voluntary sessions although I am sure that Bill Belichick has a slightly different interpretation of the exact meaning of that word and how it applies here.
Brady's decision will have more scrutiny after he "declared the fifth" when asked if he felt appreciated by his team.
Now, I know what you're thinking: "Tom Brady just lost his THIRD Super Bowl, the first on a team besides the Giants, maybe he should be working a little harder."
Despite the clear downward trend reflected by that fact, he is still spending his offseason time preparing his 41 year old body to play as a simple 37 year old player. He was exercising on the beach earlier this month. He has also been doing soccer-related things, while wearing shorts, at UCLA, and will be hosting some of his Patriots friends for exercise sessions in Montana later this summer, probably after he attends mandatory minicamp.
In addition to these things, there is his plyometric material that he does when he is not taking many electrolytes and promoting his age-defying lifestyle brand with personal guru Alex Guerrero, also known as the guy that Belichick banned in the team activities
Despite the fact that Brady does not regularly eat delicious strawberries, whatever he's doing with his body in the off-season seems to be working well. It was the MVP last year … in FORTY. And even though he became a three-time Super Bowl loser this year, it was not Brady's decision for bench cornerback Malcolm Butler, who attended last season's offseason volunteer workouts.
Tom Brady does not need your damn OTA. Nor Odell Beckham. And skipping the OTAs did not prevent Donald from laughing at the weak attempts to block the offensive linemen who attended the OTAs.
There is a point for OTAs. Even the representatives of the shorts have value in a league where the practice time of the entire team is limited. But there is no real limit to the amount that airtime networks have to fill or the available column inches that have to be filled with something .
Brady will not be reprimanded as OBJ was for omitting the voluntary trainings. (There are many reasons for that, but we'll keep those 1,000 words for another slow news day.) But we'll still have to hear about it all week and beyond.
The process will be repeated next season when some other thief dares to take the word volunteer literally. And when he does, we'll update this post on the blog of Li or maybe we'll even write a new one, because, shit, it's May, I have time.