Players Speak Out
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is one player who has Tweeted to the NFL about the lack of secure protocols for teams returning to training.
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson echoed the concerns of Brees. He mentioned that his wife is pregnant and that, “There’s still no clear plan on player health and family safety. We want to play but we also want to protect our loved ones.”
Brees was scathing regarding the NFL’s apparent unwillingness to implement the protocols issued by its own medical experts. He also issued a threat, “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.”
Deadlock Between the NFL and Players
It was defensive end JJ Watt, of the Houston Texans, who offered the greatest insight into the main problems players have with the NFL’s plan to return to playing.
He confirmed that players are still unaware as to how often they will be tested and the lack of a comprehensive plan if a coronavirus test comes back positive.
Representatives of the NFL players’ union confirmed in a reporter conference call last Friday that the union and the league couldn’t find an agreement on how teams should prepare for the upcoming season.
This comes at a time when teams would ordinarily be returning to training in time for the season kick-off in September.
Many point to a toxic culture within NFL hierarchies, with regards to safety. JC Tretter of the Cleveland Browns, president of the NFL Players Association said many players were concerned that coaches across a wide variety of teams had already accepted that people would get sick and that shouldn’t get in the way of playing football.
The NFL has not spoken out in any great detail about what it plans to do in order to address player concerns.
Could the 2020 Football Season Be Changed?
A standoff between players and the league has already sparked rumors of a strike among players. The last strike back in 2011 was short enough to avoid causing any disruption to the regular-season schedule.
With so much at stake, 2020 could bring back memories of the 1987 NFL strike, which was the last time the regular season was impacted by a strike. On that occasion, each team’s schedule was shortened to 15 games.
Although the NFL Players Association hasn’t commented on the possibility of players striking, if they don’t feel the league has implemented appropriate safety protocols, it’s almost certainly an option on the table if Commissioner Roger Goodell refuses to give ground.