If you can believe it… NFL teams, including rookies and veterans (Bucs QB Josh Freeman pictured), will soon be back to work as OTAs take place
The time between the end of the draft in April and the start of training camp in July is supposed to be a quiet time in the National Football League (NFL). Coaches and players are supposed to recharge their batteries during the months of May and June in anticipation of a hot tough training camp. However the quietness of these months has since past as a new and overused term “OTA” has crept into NFL teams’ vocabulary.
OTA stands for “Organized Team Activities”. It is a term that was created in the legal jargon of the NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) to keep a close eye on team’s off-season preparations before training camp. Much like the NCAA’s rules around “practices” in the spring, the NFL has tried to define a strict code of who can practice, what types of drills can be run, voluntary/mandatory attendance and the amount of contact in OTAs. Rules around these activities are strict enough that teams can get themselves in hot water easily, if violations are found. The Philadelphia Eagles in the spring of 2005 lost a week of activities for the simple violation of reportedly several players showing up to train before the official off-season start date the club had sent to the league.
NFL Teams may differ on X’s and O’s, however they all can agree that OTAs are essential to building the foundation of a winning cohesive football team. Many times when I talk to players and coaches during the crucial season ending playoff-stretch months of November and December, they point to OTAs and training camp as keys where everyone got on the same page. Most OTA sessions are in clandestine settings with players, coaches, and a few members of the media allowed to watch. But with everyone’s year around fascination with the NFL exploding, OTAs have become big news even though it is just players running around in helmets, t-shirts, and shorts. Read more on “The NFL is OTA Happy” »