In today's NFL, the idea of "voluntary" offseason practices has become something of a joke.
Most teams have perfect or near-perfect attendance for such workouts. When players are missing, it gets noticed.
Just ask Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Cary Williams, who missed an organized team activity workout last week so he could attend his 3-year-old daughter's dance recital. He missed other voluntary workouts because of dental work and home construction.
Fresh off signing a three-year, $17 million contract, Williams' absences caught considerable criticism from the media. Speaking during the first day of (mandatory) minicamp, Williams explained himself. It was entertaining.
"It's just funny. I mean, fans, I love y'all, but jeez, give me a break," Williams said, via Mike Garafolo of USA Today. "If I was a guy that had three kids with three different women and I was a womanizer, you'd be reporting that. Now I'm a guy that wants to go see his girl's recital and I'm a bad guy. Like, come on, man.
"I haven't gotten in trouble in years. I've learned my lessons. I've been through so much scrutiny in previous years and things like that. If I was doing something negative, then report it. I'm not doing anything negative. I'm just trying to be a great dad, I'm just trying to be a great family man. I'm just trying to live my life outside of football and not be confined to just a box. Life does happen."
Williams went on, proving some welcome detail on his home decor efforts.
"I don't want to sound like it's disrespect. I love my job," he said. "I just had to make sure my sconces, my wood was picked out, my fireplace ... it was a whole bunch of stuff that was going on."
We've read and heard some pretty ridiculous opinions on this matter, and we couldn't agree with Williams more. The man has a life outside football. "Voluntary" deserves its dignity back in the NFL.
Now excuse us while we look up what a sconce is. Ohhhhh right. That is important.
Follow Dan Hanzus on Twitter @DanHanzus.