Ravens coach John Harbaugh suggested it would be wise for the NFL to increase the time that young players are allowed to participate in offseason team activities.
Ravens cornerback Tray Walker, who was just 23 years old, died March 18 from injuries suffered in a dirt bike accident the night before in his hometown of Liberty City, Fla. Walker had planned on returning to the Baltimore area in several weeks for offseason workouts. However, NFL teams are not allowed to begin official offseason team activities until mid-April. The most recent collective bargaining agreement in 2011 reduced offseason workouts by five weeks.
“It’s really challenging, the offseason,” Harbaugh told reporters at the NFL meetings in Boca Raton, Fla. “I hope that the league and the union can take this tragic event and kind of find common ground for the younger players in this league. Three months is a long time to be away. I think for some of the guys especially - the guys who need it the most, who don’t come from a great situation at home. What’s their anchor? Where do they go to anchor themselves? Well, they have nowhere to go right now for three months, so they go home, they go back to where they have worked so hard to pull themselves out of.
“Tray’s No. 1 goal was to find his mom a good apartment. He told me that in our pre-draft meetings. He told me that after he got drafted. And he told me when he did it, got it done for her. It’s not an environment that he was really necessarily wanting to be in, but where else do you go? That’s where your friends are at, that’s where your relationships are.
“It would really be good to be able to have the two or three-year guys, that choose to, stay in the city where their team is at. We’re their anchor in a lot of ways. We’re their family. They have a place they can go to work every single day. They can train without having to pay for it. It just makes a lot of sense.”
Meanwhile, the Ravens are still trying to cope with Walker’s death. A viewing has been scheduled for Friday night in Miami, followed by his funeral on Saturday. Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti was planning to arrange a charger flight from Baltimore to Miami for members of the organization.