Yahoo Sports — The current collective-bargaining agreement was agreed upon in 2011, and it significantly cut back the amount of padded practices a team could have. It completely eliminated padded practices from the offseason work.
The Baltimore Ravens, with a head coach and general manager who were hired long before 2011, presumably had enough time to learn those rules. Yet, they reportedly still participated in at least some illegal practice time during the rookie minicamp.
The Ravens had “a five-minute period on May 6 when rookies and first-year players suited up in pads during a non-contact punt protection drill,” according to ESPN.com’s Jamison Hensley. That’s against the rules and the NFL will investigate. According to Hensley’s story, the Ravens thought rookie minicamps had different rules than regular OTA practices (so …. they’ve been violating the CBA for five years?) and pulled the players off the field after Ravens union rep Ben Watson offered some clarification.
That’s a nice turn of a phrase. Ben Watson “offered some clarification.” Translation: He caught the Ravens cheating. He blew the whistle on them for violating the CBA and operating an unsafe work environment like a 6-foot-3, 250-pound Norma Rae.
Not to mention what this means in terms of the infamous “competitive advantage” the NFL fears and dreads so much. Do the Ravens think that, I don’t know, the other 31 teams might benefit from getting a look at their rookies in a fully padded practice? That the Patriots might want to see up close how Ted Karras hits or how Vincent Valentine can get off the line and shed a block?
But they don’t. Because there are rules saying you can’t. Rules which were openly negotiated and codified in a legally-binding signed contract, which the Ravens have apparently been breaking all along until their new union rep called them on it. And it’s funny how they’re sneaking the illegal practices in on rookies, who wouldn’t know any better. And don’t try to con me with this “it was only five minutes” horsecrap. Can there be a doubt in anyone’s mind they would’ve run the whole practice that way if Watson hadn’t “offered some clarification?”
I’ve come to expect nothing less from Baltimore. This, after all, is the team that complained about the Patriots running perfectly legal tackle eligible plays, John Harbaugh called them “deception” before getting the rule changed, then ran his own version. And this past winter, the Ravens tried to get the league to require eligible receivers to wear pinnies like the NFL is a third grade gym class playing soccer.
But it goes without saying nothing will come of this. The club might face a fine so small they’ll be able to pay it out of the Sunshine Fund they use to buy ladies in the office flowers on their birthdays, but that will be the extent of it. Whereas if the Patriots did it, we’d be looking at a capital crime with suspensions and forfeited draft picks all over the place. The Ravens can call this a mistake. Or a misinterpretation of the rules. But the rest of us can call it what it is.
Baseball is in full swing and you can be a part of the action all season long at DraftKings! Play for FREE in the $10K fantasy baseball contest TODAY with your first deposit. Just draft two pitchers and eight position players, stay under the salary cap and outscore the competition to turn your love of baseball into CASH! To draft your team today, CLICK HERE.