Fletcher Cox agrees it's very important for him to be present at all the Eagles' voluntary practices.
He also believes there's something even more important than football, and that's his family.
Four years after Cary Williams explained his voluntary workout absence by telling reporters he was busy picking out sconces for his new house, Cox said he skipped last week's session of OTAs to spend time with his family.
"I know it's very important that I'm here," Cox said at his locker on Tuesday after practice (see 10 obervations from Tuesday's practice). "Also, my family's important to me, too. It was just one of those deals. It's important that I be here. It wasn't a serious family issue, but it was a time where my whole family could actually take off work and it's a time I get to spend with them.
"What's most important is that I'm here today. I was on the field practicing and the coaches were happy, the players were happy to see me back and I was also happy to be here.
"I'll tell you what, it felt good to be out there today. I feel good. I'm happy to be back with these guys running around out there today. We competed out there in the rain and it was fun."
Thanks to the CBA, these sessions are not mandatory. But there is an unspoken expectation that everybody attends.
A handful of players were absent for family or personal reasons, including Darren Sproles, Ron Brooks, Alex McCalister and LeGarrette Blount. Tim Jernigan was with his wife for the birth of their child.
So why so much scrutiny for Cox? Especially when all he missed was a few voluntary shirts-and-shorts sessions in May? Because that $102 million contract and back-to-back Pro Bowl appearances make him a locker room leader, someone the young guys look up to. And when a leader is absent, it's noticed.
But Cox said he doesn't think his teammates were too upset with his absence.
"We're grown men," he said. "People in this locker room have families, and we know how important our families are. To me, my family is very important, because I've lost a bunch of important people in my family.
"Rules are the rules. It's voluntary. We, as players, a couple years ago chose to make this offseason stuff voluntary. I can't say anything about guys who aren't here because I wasn't here last week. It's just one of those deals where guys show up or they don't."
Cox said he alerted head coach Doug Pederson, position coach Chris Wilson and executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman quite a while ago that he would be absent last week.
"Doug knew that I wouldn't be here last week, so it wasn't a surprise to him," he said. "The whole coaching staff knew. Doug knew, Chris Wilson knew I wouldn't be here, I'm pretty sure Howie and those guys knew I wouldn't be here.
"I'm pretty sure they wanted me here, but it was just one of those times where family was very important to me at that moment."
He also said he'll be here for next week's voluntary sessions and emphasized that he's been at the NovaCare working out on his own throughout the offseason.
"I was here," he said. "I've been here in the offseason. Last week was just one of those weeks, and it had already been planned a long time ago.
"I'm here today, that's all that matters. That's all that's important. Now, if I wasn't here today, maybe a lot of guys would question it. But I'm here today."