NFL players plead with league to address health, safety concerns
NFL players are publicly pleading with the league to address several health and safety concerns on the eve of training camp.
The league informed teams on Saturday that training camps will open on time even though discussions with the players’ union regarding testing for the coronavirus and other health and safety protocols are ongoing.
Rookies for Houston and Kansas City are set to report Monday and rookies for other teams are due on Tuesday. Players for all teams are scheduled to report by July 28.
Many prominent players expressed their thoughts in a social media blitz Sunday.
“We need Football! We need sports! We need hope!” Saints quarterback Drew Brees wrote on Twitter. “The NFL’s unwillingness to follow the recommendations of their own medical experts will prevent that. If the NFL doesn’t do their part to keep players healthy there is no football in 2020. It’s that simple. Get it done @NFL.”
We need Football! We need sports! We need hope! The NFL’s unwillingness to follow the recommendations of their own medical experts will prevent that. If the NFL doesn’t do their part to keep players healthy there is no football in 2020. It’s that simple. Get it done @NFL
— Drew Brees (@drewbrees) July 19, 2020
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson said he is concerned because his wife, Ciara, is pregnant.
He wrote: “My wife is pregnant. @NFL Training camp is about to start.. And there’s still No Clear Plan on Player Health & Family Safety. ???? We want to play football but we also want to protect our loved ones. (hashtag)WeWantToPlay.”
I am concerned.
My wife is pregnant.@NFL Training camp is about to start..
And there’s still No Clear Plan on Player Health & Family Safety.
We want to play football but we also want to protect our loved ones. #WeWantToPlay
— Russell Wilson (@DangeRussWilson) July 19, 2020
NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith and President JC Tretter addressed the union’s concerns in a 90-minute videoconference call with reporters on Friday.
They want players tested daily for the virus. A joint committee of doctors, trainers and strength coaches formed by the NFL and NFLPA recommended testing every other day.
Other outstanding issues include number of preseason games. The league has planned to cut the exhibition schedule from four games to two while the union wants none.
Players also wanted a 45-day acclimation period to help avoid injuries. The league asked them to report early but the union declined. Questions remain on protections for players who want to opt out of playing.
All 32 teams have sent the union their Infectious Disease Emergency Response that have been approved by joint infectious disease experts and NFL chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills, according to a person familiar with the details. The person, speaking to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because protocols haven’t been finalized, said the union has approved several and continues to review them.
On Friday, the league sent players and teams an Education Protocol for camp which requires clubs to distribute joint educational materials and to conduct educational sessions for players, staff and family members.
Tretter, a center for the Browns, wrote: “What you are seeing today is our guys standing up for each other and for the work their union leadership has done to keep everyone as safe as possible. The NFL needs to listen to our union and adopt the experts’ recommendations (hashtag)wewanttoplay.”
What you are seeing today is our guys standing up for each other and for the work their union leadership has done to keep everyone as safe as possible. The NFL needs to listen to our union and adopt the experts' recommendations #wewanttoplay
— JC Tretter (@JCTretter) July 19, 2020
Under the collective bargaining agreement, the NFL has the right to impose report dates and teams can fine players who don’t report.
The NFLPA could file a grievance to argue the league isn’t providing a safe work environment under the labor deal.
More from the players:
It’s a shame that the @nfl doesn’t care about doing their part to keep players healthy and safe. They need to make sure football can come back the right way. We have to look out for ourselves as well as our families. #WeWantToPlay
— AD_99 (@AaronDonald97) July 19, 2020
You want to watch football this year? Us players need to remain healthy in order to make that happen. The NFL needs to do their part in order to bring football back safely in 2020. Please address health and safety concerns so we can play football this year. We want to play!
— Jared Goff (@JaredGoff16) July 19, 2020
We want to play no doubt but the @nfl needs to create a safe workspace for us to return to work. Without a safe workspace we are putting our families and loved ones at risk don’t feel it’s fair.
— Derwin James Jr (@DerwinJames) July 19, 2020
— Todd Gurley II (@TG3II) July 19, 2020
Once again in the interest of keeping everyone (players & fans) as informed as possible, here is an updated list of what we as players know and don’t know as the first group gets set to report to training camp tomorrow.#WeWantToPlay pic.twitter.com/xQcjs33zgM
— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) July 19, 2020
It is disheartening to hear the NFL is unwilling to follow the recommendations of their own experts regarding player health & safety. If we want to have a FULL season the NFL needs to listen to their experts! #WeWantToPlay @NFL
— Deshaun Watson (@deshaunwatson) July 19, 2020
— Derek Carr (@derekcarrqb) July 19, 2020