NFL players spoke out Sunday afternoon on Twitter about the lack of attention the league has given to health and safety protocols amid the coronavirus pandemic. Rookies were scheduled to begin reporting Monday and Tuesday with quarterbacks and injured players scheduled to arrive a few days later, but it appears as though the players may not report after numerous high profile stars threatened there would be “no football in 2020” unless the league did “their part to keep players healthy”.
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
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
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
The NFL has ignored the safety recommendations from the experts that THEY hired. We all love this game and want to go out and compete with our brothers. The NFL needs to provide a safe work environment for us to do that. #WeWantToPlay— Richard Sherman (@RSherman_25) July 19, 2020
The NFL needs to do their part by putting the right safety protocols in place before we begin to play, in order for us to protect ourselves and our families if we want to have a full season #WeWanttoPlay— James White (@SweetFeet_White) July 19, 2020
This appears to be a coordinated effort by the NFLPA, having their biggest stars all speak out at once about the league’s apathy towards player health just hours before the start of training camp. The main sticking point, among a number of key ones, seems to be the NFLPA insisting on a cancellation of all preseason games in 2020:
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 was reported Friday that the league was moving forward with training camp despite having yet to come to an agreement with the NFLPA on “protocols and other issues” and that players who didn’t report would be subject to discipline which would include potential fines:
Multiple other teams are now sending players tentative reporting dates for camp later this month, per sources. The NFL and NFLPA continue to discuss protocols and other issues, but under the CBA, management can set these dates and players must report or face potential discipline. https://t.co/y9QRqytBWl— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) July 17, 2020
If these threats from star players like Patrick Mahomes, Russell Wilson and Drew Brees are to be taken seriously, the NFL season is in jeopardy. Mahomes alone threatening not to play would be enough to put the entire league on alert, but numerous All-Pros and Pro Bowlers threatening a hold out of sorts puts the NFL in the middle of a labor dispute unlike anything the football world has seen before. Tensions between the NFL and NFLPA have always been high, but we’ve never seen a coordinated attack like the one the players conducted on social media Sunday afternoon.
The NFL has ignored the reality of the pandemic for months, and they’ve largely been afforded the luxury to do so with free agency and the draft being conducted virtually with little to no issues. Now, the league faces the music of their ignorance and the reality that football in 2020 is no sure thing.
Photo: (Steve Luciano – AP Photo)