By next week, the NFL should start training camp, and they want to do that in time. Players are aware that the start will not delay, no matter what. NFLPA is mindful of this as well, and their only concern or one of their worries now is how to figure out the best way to train and practice safely during the coronavirus pandemic.
The union preaches caution as National Football Association training camps set to start on time
In a conference call between the members of Pro Football Writers America, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith, NLFPA president JC Tretter and Executive Council member Andrew Withworth, the issue that was confronting players including player positions on testing frequency, preseason games and short term and long term economic impact of the virus on the league we’re discussed into full details.
President JC Tretter encourages change in the virus if the league season is going to start on time. “We’ve had coaches say the health and safety protocols are too much to ask. Coaches come forward saying everyone’s sick, so we might as well get sick together,” Tretter said on the call, “those attitudes can’t happen, there are consequences to getting sick.”
Houston Texas defensive end JJ Watt took to Twitter to answer a question about the sport requiring players to operate in close contact with one another. According to Watt, he is very much aware of the risk he is taking. Still, he is ready to play, “I’m a center, at this time more than any, I have a very dangerous job, this is going to be a battle of risk mitigation and providing opportunities for guys to make safe decisions.”
The NFLPA and NFL team owners have been making back to back calls to discuss the impact of the pandemic on the sport, negotiating reopening protocols and all of that, and according to ESPN, the negotiations between the two sides have intensified, they seem to be exchanging proposals every two or three hours.
Players are also known to have many questions about how they can protect themselves and their families. Executive director DeMaurice Smith admits to speaking with doctors who have agreed that it’s safe to open camps. He also adds that the union will be responsible for making camps safe for players and staff.
The NFLPA has asked for players to be tested daily. Smith assured that frequent testing and contract tracing would be handled. They also requested for preseason games to be eliminated, the league has so far decided to reduce the preseason from 4 games per team to 2. However, the deal hasn’t been finalized with the NFLPA.
Smith has said that players do not agree to be exposed at this time in a game that doesn’t count on standings. “To engage in two games where players would be flying all over the country and then engaging with each other to work, and to do that before the season doesn’t increase the likelihood of starting and finishing the season on some,” Smith said.
The union is planning to establish guidelines for players who decided to opt-out for medical reasons or personal reasons.
Smith and Tretter said on Thursday that some teams have started sharing their Infectious Disease Emergency Response (IDER) with their players and the union was reviewing it to make sure it goes in accordance to CDC’s health and safety protocols, it should be understood that the union will not allow teams to open their camps unless they have shared their IDER plans copy to every player on their team.
Salaries could reduce due to the impact of COVID-19 on NFL finances
Tretter believes the health and safety of players and staff is their priority but will come at a cost. The pandemic will affect the league’s finances. There’s an estimated drop as much as $70 million per team in salary cap because of the 2020 revenue lost. This could cost some players their jobs. Players are advised to protect themselves outside camps, and Smith pleads with the general public to adhere to protocols for the greater good.
“Wearing a mask will probably be the most significant component of whether sports return in this country,” Smith said. “That’s not a political statement. That’s a common-sense and scientific statement. Nothing will bring fans back to our stadiums faster than the simple decision across the country to wear a mask.”