As you likely know, Steelers speedy draft pick Dri Archer missed OTA time this week reportedly due to illness. This morning, Ed Bouchette reported that while Archer was excused from OTAs earlier this week due to illness, he was present for the NFLPA rookie premier activities in LA. The post was titled, Rookie Archer Blows Off OTAs.
Bouchette’s post created quite a stir on social media platforms, leading many fans to believe that Archer was playing sick, or lacking commitment. While it seems reasonable to question why a rookie would seem to be “too sick” to appear for OTAs, but not for some lavish event in Los Angeles, that’s not the case at all.
Per the CBA, rookie attendance is not optional at the NFLPA Rookie Premier. From the CBA:
Invited Rookies will be permitted by their respective Clubs to attend the NFL Players Rookie Premiere provided that: (i) such event is scheduled during the month of May; (ii) such event encompasses a maximum of four consecutive days, including both a Saturday and a Sunday; and (iii) the NFLPA provides the NFL with the dates for the next Rookie Premiere not later than February 1 of each year.
If there is any question as to whether or not that validates Archer’s OTA absence this week, NFL Spokesman Greg Aiello made a statement about this very subject two years ago via profootballtalk.
“Yes, it’s mandatory per the CBA,” Aiello told ProfootballTalk. “No, a player invited to the Rookie Premiere by the NFLPA cannot choose instead to work out at the team facility. He cannot be at the team facility during the Rookie Premiere.”
So, that should settle that. Hopefully Archer is feeling better, as travelling while sick is never a good time.