ASHBURN, Va. — The NFL fined Washington Commanders coach Ron Rivera $100,000 and stripped the team of two OTA practices in 2023 for conducting excessive contact in spring drills, according to ESPN’s Dan Graziano.
The NFL Players Association reviewed practice video on June 1 and 8 — per a request to the Commanders — and informed the NFL’s Management Council that it felt those practices violated the collective bargaining agreement’s “prohibition against live contact.” The council, after reviewing the practices, agreed.
The NFL informed Washington general manager Martin Mayhew via letter about the penalties. The letter stated “there’s no question” a team does this to gain a competitive advantage.
The Commanders, who finished spring workouts Thursday, declined comment.
According to the letter, Washington’s “intensity and tempo of the Club’s interior line play and pass coverage during 11-on-11 drills were at a level where players were clearly engaged in physical contests.” It stated that on more than one play there was excessive contact between players that resulted in players going to the ground.
“In some cases,” the letter stated, “players were slow to recover after those collisions.”
The letter stated Rivera needed to intervene when practices became too physical and remind players of the rules and to “maintain appropriate control” over practice.
On June 8, Washington safety Jeremy Reaves crashed into receiver Dyami Brown as both went for the ball. Reaves said later that he did not see Brown, cutting in traffic, or he would have pulled up. After the play, Brown lingered on the ground, walked slowly to the sideline and was then escorted into the facility. Rivera stopped practice and yelled at his players to play smarter and more disciplined and ended that full-team session prematurely.
He later said that Brown suffered a sore shoulder. Brown participated in the mandatory three-day minicamp a week later.
“We’ve just got to be careful and work with each other,” Rivera told the media after the collision. “The last thing we want is somebody to be hurt. There’s a certain discipline that I try to get across to the guys that they understand that when we talk about doing things a specific way, there’s a reason why. We don’t want to see guys get hurt.
“I really appreciate the way they practice, the way they practice hard and they get competitive every now and then, but we’ve got to have the discipline to understand.”
One source said there were collisions worse than that during other practices closed to the media.
During the two canceled OTA practices, players can’t work out at the facility but all players who participate in the offseason workout program will be paid for those days.
Last week, Rivera fined defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio $100,000 for comments comparing the events of Jan. 6, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol to rioters and looters during the summer of 2020. Rivera said Del Rio’s comment calling Jan. 6 a “dustup” created a distraction for the team.