NFL Players Association president J.C. Tretter unloaded on the league’s health and safety plan for dealing with the coronavirus, alleging the plan largely ignores both health and safety.
Tretter criticized the NFL for not providing a reason for playing two preseason games. While the league backed off the schedule from four preseason games per team to two, the NFLPA wants all preseason games to be scrapped.
Opening the schedule would give players and teams additional time to train after offseason workouts were held virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic. Tretter pointed to the high number of soft tissue and Achilles injuries following the 2011 lockout.
“Every decision this year that prioritizes normalcy over innovation, custom over science or even football over health, significantly reduces our chances of completing the full season,” Tretter wrote in a blog post.
Tretter said the NFL and NFLPA’s joint coronavirus task force agreed to a 48-day training camp without preseason games.
Tretter’s post comes on the same day that Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians estimated all players will get the coronavirus.
“The players, they’re going to all get sick, that’s for sure. It’s just a matter of how sick they get,” Arians told the Tampa Bay Times.
Similar concerns over returning to play have been raised by players in multiple professional sports. Indiana Pacers All-Star guard Victor Oladipo is the highest-profile player to opt out due to re-injury concerns. He missed parts of two seasons with a ruptured quadriceps tendon and was uncomfortable ramping up for a run of games in July and August.
NBA players report to Walt Disney World Resort on Tuesday to begin workouts and the season, paused on March 11, is scheduled to restart on July 30 for the 22 teams in playoff contention.
Major League Baseball opened Summer Camp and plans to start the 2020 regular season on July 23, but several teams canceled workouts on Monday due to delays receiving results of coronavirus tests over the Fourth of July holiday weekend.
The NFL plans to test players three times per week but said protocol for returning to play could be a moving target based on the number of confirmed cases in each region and within each team.
“We don’t want to merely return to work and have the season shut down before we even get started,” Tretter wrote. “The NFLPA will do its part to advocate for player safety. We will continue to hold the NFL accountable and demand that the league use data, science and the recommendations of its own medical experts to make decisions. It has been clear for months that we need to find a way to fit football inside the world of coronavirus. Making decisions outside that lens is both dangerous and irresponsible.”
–Field Level Media (@FieldLevelMedia)