TAYLOR COUNTY—Continuing with the recent trend of player/ownership disagreement on how to safely return to the playing field, NFLPA President JC Tretter wrote in a blog post on Tuesday that the league “is unwilling to prioritize player safety and believes that the virus will bend to football,” pouring more fuel on the fire over the terms of training camp and the preseason amid the recent pandemic.
Last week, the NFL secured plans to cut the 2020 preseason in half from four games to two, and create a 23-day “acclimatization” period in training camp to account for the probability that players will report to training camp less prepared for football after spending the entire offseason utilizing virtual programs. The NFLPA objected, although the NFL has not publicly announced that, and its board of player representatives voted last week to support a plan that eliminates preseason games.
Tretter also wrote that the NFL and NFLPA’s collaborative COVID-19 task force originally agreed to a 48day training camp which did not include any preseason games, citing the surge of injuries (specifically Achilles and hamstring) that occurred the season after the league’s 2011 lockout which also eliminated the offseason program.
According to Tretter, the NFL has not stated a medical reason for insisting on the two preseason games. However, it was previously reported that the NFL felt it needed to have preseason games to evaluate rosters as well as to give teams the opportunity to practice under the new pandemic-related travel restrictions and protocols.
“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,” wrote Tretter.
He also added that “we don’t want to merely return to work and have the season shut down before we even get started. 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.”
The NFL did not immediately respond to a request for comment.