NFL players want to have a 2020 season, but only if the NFL gets its act together. A number of prominent players — including Drew Brees, J.J. Watt, Russell Wilson, Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson and Richard Sherman — criticized the league Sunday for its lack of safety protocols as training camps begin to open.
Wilson, 31, cited his wife Ciara’s pregnancy as a reason he’s concerned the league hasn’t issued a plan yet.
I am concerned.— Russell Wilson (@DangeRussWilson) July 19, 2020
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
The 31-year-old Watt provided the most in-depth view of the situation, laying out the various issues the players need to be resolved before rookies report July 21.
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
Those issues include a training camp acclimation period, clarity over how often players will be tested for the coronavirus and how the league plans to handle a player who tests positive. Watt also mentioned a “strong and fair opt-out clause for those at higher rick or those with family members at higher risk.”
Watt detailed similar issues in a tweet Thursday.
Watt also explained that the players don’t have a say in whether they have to report. The league can mandate players show up to training camp even if the NFLPA has not negotiated an agreement. Players who do not show up can be fined, or considered in breach of contract. While some veteran players might be able to take that hit, many others — especially rookies — can’t take that risk.
Both Brees and Malcolm Jenkins pointed to the NFL ignoring the advice of its own medical experts.
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
It blows my mind that the NFL is unwilling to follow the recommendations of their own experts regarding player health and safety. If we want to have a FULL season this year we need the NFL to listen to their experts! #WeWantToPlay pic.twitter.com/q55RpqRzPu— Malcolm Jenkins (@MalcolmJenkins) July 19, 2020
The league’s joint medical committee recommended a 21-day acclimation period, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero. The league shortened that period so it could hold preseason games. The players don’t want to hold a preseason during the coronavirus pandemic.
Translating the #WeWantToPlay posts you're seeing now: Joint medical committee recommended a 21-day acclimation period. NFL asked players to show up 2 weeks early to accomodate it; NFLPA said no. NFL shortened acclimation period to accommodate 2 preseason games. Union wants 0.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) July 19, 2020
It’s reached a point where at least one NBA player — Cleveland’s Larry Nance Jr. — is thankful he doesn’t play football.
After watching what the NFL and MLB have been going through.. just makes Adam Silver look THAT much better.. so glad we have a forward thinking players association and league office— Larry Nance Jr (@Larrydn22) July 19, 2020
It’s unclear whether the NFL and NFLPA can reach an agreement before rookies report July 21. If both sides can’t come to an agreement, things are going to get even more contentious, especially if players who report do not feel safe.
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