We have a little more clarification now on the situation with Pittsburgh Steelers rookie running back Dri Archer, who has been accused of blowing off the first week of OTA practices in order to attend the NFLPA Rookie Premiere out in Los Angeles.
According to several other reports around the internet, the rookie event must be attended by at least one draft pick from every team and Archer was chosen by the league to be the Steelers player that had to go.
In a Wednesday story by Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com, Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith explained why rookie running back Devonta Freeman had to go to the Los Angeles event even though he really would have preferred to practice instead.
“It’s basically mandatory that he goes,” Smith said of Freeman. “He came to me and said,’Coach, I don’t really want to go.’ I said, ‘You’ve got to go.’ He said, ‘I don’t want to miss practice.’ I said, ‘Well, if you don’t go, you can’t be here at the facility. That’s the way the rules are. So go enjoy California.’ It’s an honor for him to be chosen to go.”
So there you go, Archer didn’t “blow off” practice in order to attend the NFLPA function and that means that he probably wasn’t really suffering from an illness, either.
Perhaps the NFLPA should look into scheduling these events on weekends instead of during the first week of OTA practices. It doesn’t sound like Freeman wanted to miss time and now that we know the full story, Archer probably feels the same way. At least he was able to attend the rookie minicamp and will be able to pick up where he left off next week during the second set of practices.