Micah Parsons claps back at Cowboys OTA criticism with fierce Aaron Donald comp

Micah Parsons didn't mince words about criticism from his OTA absence
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Seattle Seahawks v Dallas Cowboys / Ryan Kang/GettyImages

It's the dog days of the NFL offseason, so non-stories are getting blown out of proportion through the general media. The Dallas Cowboys have understandably caught heat for how they've handled contract talks with CeeDee Lamb and Dak Prescott, but Micah Parsons found himself in the crosshairs of negative discourse amid his absence from OTAs.

Mike McCarthy subtly called out Parsons for missing the voluntary practices, saying that Parsons missed an opportunity to display leadership and build chemistry with teammates. Members of the Dallas media have even brought Parsons' leadership into question.

As he always is, Parsons was in full uniform for the start of mandatory minicamp on Tuesday. After practice, the All-Pro pass rusher addressed the media and loudly defended his decision to skip voluntary workouts and train on his own.

Ever aware that he's knocking on the door of winning Defensive Player of the Year, Parsons likened his OTA absence to that of a three-time DPOY and arguably the greatest defensive player of his generation, Aaron Donald.

Cowboys' Micah Parsons defends OTAs absence with suasive Aaron Donald comp

"I think the more years you have, the more you understand that there's also like the business side to it," Parsons said, via NFL Network's Jane Slater. "I mean, there was a time where Aaron Donald didn't even go to (training) camp and he won Defensive Player of the Year and then went to the playoffs. Like, are we forgetting these times? Like we wasn't talking about the best defensive player wasn't even in camp. And we're in minicamps. Voluntary at that. So you know, (mini)camp was something that is mandatory. I'm just looking at it as a time for my body to heal. I'm playing as an undersized rusher who is banged up every year. So I'm just letting my body heal. I'm just trying to grow, strengthen, and really just get ready for the year."

Donald skipped the Rams' 2017 offseason program and even sat out part of training camp as he sought a contract extension. Donald, who retired after the 2023 season, won consecutive Defensive Player of the Year awards in 2017 and 2018. He won the award again in 2020.

Through three seasons, Parsons' resume is identical to Donald's. In fact, Parsons has one more All-Pro nod than the future Hall of Famer did at this point in his career and he came closer to winning DPOY. It wasn't until Donald's fourth season that he took home his first Defensive Player of the Year award. Parsons was not out of pocket to liken his OTA absence to that of Donald's in 2017.

It's not like the Cowboys weren't aware of Parsons' whereabouts. He was training independently with local boxing coach Tony Mack.

And yet, Cowboys fans felt obligated to flock to Parsons' defense. Not every superstar has built-in leadership qualities. You can point to a number of high-level NFL players who prefer to lead by example. A man of few words, now-former Dallas left tackle Tyron Smith is one of these players.

As far as the current Cowboys, Dak Prescott, DeMarcus Lawrence and Ezekiel Elliott offer plenty of leadership in the locker room.

Parsons has kept in excellent shape. It's not the end of the world that he missed a handful of voluntary practices. There's plenty of time between minicamp and training camp, which lasts up to a month, for Parsons to catch up on Mike Zimmer's teachings and build on the chemistry he already has with teammates.

Parsons had every right to defend his decision because it wasn't worthy of criticism to begin with.

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