With NFL facilities closed for several months now, some players have gotten creative in an attempt to train and practice on their own and with teammates. Most notably, new Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady was hosting throwing sessions with his new Tampa Bay teammates.
In response to these workouts, NFLPA doctor Dr. Thom Mayer advised players to stop activities immediately, while the NFL and the players association figured out how to move forward.
A message to players from NFLPA Medical Director, Dr. Thom Mayer: pic.twitter.com/4IGlEBhRr9— NFLPA (@NFLPA) June 20, 2020
Despite Dr. Mayer’s plea, Brady continued to take part in throwing sessions with teammates, and he wasn’t alone. Three days after Dr. Thom Mayer advised players to stop, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson shared a video of a workout with receiver DK Metcalf.
Speaking to USA Today Sports on Sunday, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith reiterated Dr. Mayer’s message that the workouts needed to stop, explaining “those practices are not in the best interest of player safety.”
Smith, while aiming his target at two of the NFL’s biggest stars, does have the players’ best interest in mind. Should Wilson, Brady, or any other player contract COVID-19 while taking part, they could land on their team’s non-football injury list, meaning they would not be paid until they were able to come off the list.
Additionally, in a worst-case scenario, they could be forced to pay back some or all of their signing bonus for the 2020 season. For a Brady or Wilson, the forfeited money may not be a huge deal. But for a player on the edge of the NFL, landing on the NFI list could have a massive, lasting impact.
After Smith’s message on Sunday, we’ll see how players respond with training camp just a month away.