The New York Giants got just what they want -- a coach feared and revered for his strict and stringent ways. But the Giants now have something that they don't want -- an investigation into whether the new program is too strict.
|Tom Coughlin might be demanding more of his players than the rules allow.(Getty Images)|
"Numerous Giants have informed my office of activities in the offseason that the players believe violate the rules," NFLPA executive director Gene Upshaw told SportsLine.com. "Nothing is mandatory for veterans in the offseason except for one minicamp. If I get one guy complain, you'd listen, but when several players start complaining to my office, then I've got a problem. We are investigating, we have a right to ask for this information, but all we're trying to see is if there has been a violation of rules."
The Management Council and NFLPA are looking for violations under the NFL's collective bargaining agreement. At question is what is mandatory and if the current program demands that players do more than what is laid out in the CBA.
Giants officials insist neither new coach Tom Coughlin nor any part of his program is in violation of any offseason rules. In fact, they reviewed everything in-house to see if there was something that could even be misconstrued as a problem, but they said they couldn't find anything that could even be judged a violation.
When called for this story, Giants GM Ernie Accorsi refused comment. This is the first time the Giants have ever been accused of such a violation.
The process started when Giants players complained to Upshaw's office. The union then contacted the league office and asked them to collect evidence to determine if there are any violations.
As a result, the Management Council and the union contacted the Giants and asked that they hand over memos regarding itineraries and meetings as well as videotapes of on-field work done this offseason.
"All we are doing is investigating, we are not saying anything wrong was done. We are, however, looking to gather information to see if any violations took place," said Upshaw. "Last year we looked at Kansas City, Cleveland and St. Louis. We ended up getting St. Louis."
As a result, the Rams lost one week of organized team activities (OTAs).
The entire offseason program has strict limitations that are governed by the collective bargaining agreement with the players.
For starters, the offseason program is completely voluntary with the exception of one three-day minicamp (two for new coaches). Teams can have only 14 of the OTA days, and coaches can keep players on the field no longer than 90 minutes. Players can wear helmets, but no pads.
Players have no obligation to partake in any of the OTAs or lifting sessions outside of minicamp.
If the union and league find that the Giants have violated the CBA rules on offseason workouts and practices, then the organization will lose a week of OTAs but the players will still be paid for the week.
In essence, the Giants would have to give the players a week's paid vacation this offseason. Other violations could result in a loss of a fourth-round pick in the 2005 draft.
Several Giants players contacted by SportsLine.com denied they were the ones to file the complaint, but all admitted there has been some unrest with the program.
The Giants expected some unrest after a man was brought in to clean up a 4-12 mess. Plus, Coughlin is a disciplinarian. Such a style is sure to lead to some complaints. Usually, however, those gripes are kept within the team.
The only player who agreed to talk on the record about the inquiry is team captain and one of the Giants' union representatives, DE Michael Strahan, who has had run-ins with the coach regarding his participation in the offseason program. Strahan insists he was not one of those who contacted Upshaw to file a complaint.
"Whenever I've had an issue with Coach Coughlin, I've talked to him face-to-face, about it but I'm sure I'll get blamed for this anyway," said Strahan. "Guys have said that they have issues with some of the things that are happening, but I never thought those issues would be taken to this extent. I thought it should have been handled in-house."
The Giants have gotten exactly what they've needed -- a discipline-heavy coach. Hearing about such a complaint could be music to their ears as the team brass and many fans feel the team needed a swift kick in the right area.
In a meeting with the team after the last game in January, even co-owner Wellington Mara promised a renewed discipline from the next coaching staff.
But the Giants locker room has about a half-dozen NFLPA player reps on the roster. Several were signed as free agents. RB Tiki Barber is the other union rep voted in by the Giants players.
In addition to Accorsi, other team officials declined to comment.
Oddly enough, the Giants begin their first Coach Coughlin minicamp on Friday of this week.
Raiders experience Woodson inflation
The Oakland Raiders are still paying for slapping Charles Woodson with a franchise tag, months after their original designation.
When the Raiders originally tagged Woodson on Feb. 4, they hit him with the "exclusive franchise" tag. At the time, that meant no other teams could negotiate with him, and he was to be paid $6.801 million -- the average of the top-five paid players at his position.
However, the exclusive rights tag calls for an adjustment after the restricted free-agency period comes to an end. The number was originally revalued in mid-April to $7,385,697 or an increase of about $500,000.
However, on May 4, the NFL revalued it again, and the new figure the Raiders now have to pay Woodson is a whopping $8,782,400 or $2 million more than they originally planned.
That's the easiest $2 million Woodson will ever make.