NFL guidelines state that offseason workouts and organized team activities are voluntary.
New Eagles cornerback Cary Williams used that fact to his advantage last month by missing the team's voluntary OTAs for various reasons. Williams said he was overseeing the building of a new home in Tennessee, went to the dentist to have oral surgery and attended his 3-year-old daughter’s dance recital. Williams even said during an interview on 97.5 The Fanatic that “there is life outside of football.”
Williams' comments prompted many to believe that he’s not truly committed to the game and that the three-year, $17 million deal he signed with the Eagles this offseason is nothing more than a paycheck.
Although Williams might have been better served saying he had personal issues to deal with, I respect the fact that he was as honest and as open as possible about his absence. The cornerback has also told the media on several occasions that he takes pride in being a great father, great husband and being a family man.
Back in April, I had a chance to sit across from Williams and talk about his childhood, which is a topic he has rarely opened up about publicly. Williams said he didn’t have his mother in his life growing up because she was constantly in and out of mental institutions.
Williams and his brother were raised by only their father. The brothers endured excessive beatings throughout their childhood and eventually were taken in by other relatives.
Williams also talked about how he’s battled depression throughout his life and still deals with personal demons from his past. However, he has a much better grip and understanding of how to handle his emotions.
All of that past abuse and anguish made Williams promise to himself that when he had the opportunity to become a father, husband and family man, he would not make some of the same mistakes he witnessed as a child.
We may never know the full details of what the defensive back had to endure during those tough times or how many sleepless nights consumed him. I’d be willing to bet those situations are why he is determined to hold onto the stability of his own family.
It should be noted that Williams was there from start to finish for the Eagles' mandatory minicamp at the beginning of June. He’s promised that when he is required to focus on football during training camp, preseason games and the regular season that he will be all about football.
I have never faced what Williams had to go through in his life, so I will not judge him for his comments. Since the former Raven was coming to a new team and learning a new scheme under a new defensive coordinator, should he have been at the OTAs? Maybe. But if Eagles coaches didn’t have a problem with his absence -- as several sources have said -- then I won't either.
Once training camp arrives, Williams will be under the microscope. If he excels the way the Eagles hope, then the past will be just that, the past.
Williams is also smart enough to know that if he doesn’t live up to expectations, he will quickly fall out of favor with a fan base that expects him to be a major upgrade from what the team had at cornerback last season.