On Sunday, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith reemphasized that players, such as the Seahawks’ Russell Wilson and DK Metcalf, should not be holding private workouts for risk of losing out on salary should they contract COVID-19 or get injured.
Smith’s comments appeared to be a part of the NFLPA’s process of ensuring all players are protected as we approach the start date for training camps, ahead of what could be one of the strangest NFL seasons ever played.
Similarly, NFLPA President JC Tretter posted a series of responses to “recycled misconceptions” which, “will be used to undermine the strength of our union and the legitimacy of your career” as players seek protections from COVID-19 during the 2020 season. Tretter began his post with a clear statement:
The role of our union to advocate for and protect players is especially important as we figure out how to fit football into this world of coronavirus. For both rookies who are eager to make an impression and veterans who are hungry to come back, we have to be patient with the process so that we can make sure you and your families receive every necessary protection.
Tretter’s full post can be found in the link above, but his most noteworthy prompt and response, on the notion that players are of little risk, is below.
“Just go play! You’re young and healthy. You will all be fine. We need sports back.”
We are not invincible, and as recent reports have shown, we certainly aren’t immune to this virus. Underlying conditions like high BMI, asthma and sleep apnea are all associated with a higher risk of developing severe symptoms and complications when infected with COVID-19. Those conditions are widespread across the league. NFL players are humans — some with immuno-compromised family members or live-in elderly parents. Trust me: we want to play football. But as a union, our most important job is keep our players safe and alive. The NFLPA will fight for our most at-risk players and their families.
So while players, teams, and fans may be growing frustrated with the limitations placed on team activities, people in positions of power—such as Tretter and Smith—will continue to advocate to protect their players, before teams are scheduled to report to camp in less than a month.