Five months before the regular season begins, the NFL and its players face their first clash to play in the pandemic, with nearly half of teams trying to give up voluntary off-season workouts.
Players on 15 of the league’s 32 teams, including the Giants, Jets and Super Bowl champions Tampa Bay Buccaneers, said in statements released by the NFL Players Association that they would not participate in workouts that began due to concerns. Happen Unsafe to collect.
Buccaneers quarterback Tom brady One of the players who spoke on the news media and social media.
“We feel very strongly about the game, the short-term and long-term health of the players, and there is no sport without strong, healthy players,” Brady said in a conference call with The New York Times and the union’s leadership. “People within the league may think, ‘Oh, let’s just return to business, let’s return to what we’ve usually done.” But I think it’s really smart for people and players to ask, ‘Is this the best way to do things?’ No, ‘is it tolerable, but is it the best way to deal with the situation?’
The NFL declined to comment.
The union has called for a virtual off-season – essentially a stay away from the team complex – which took place in 2020. Commentary campaign Moving on, the union argues, the threat is still high.
Last season, the NFL shifted its off-season schedule to a virtual format, with the only one being man-in-training camps in August. This spring, the union asked the league to use a similar format, allowing mandatory minicamps in June. The league, citing protocol, refused, saying it would allow workouts to take place safely.
This prompted the players to mobilize. Jesse Tretter, a center for the Cleveland Browns and the union’s president, wrote an open letter to members along with DeMaurice Smith, the union’s executive director, encouraging the players not to attend.
The league and union signed a new collective bargaining agreement in 2020, stating that off-season workouts were optional, which Smith and Tretters’ letter emphasized. The players then held calls and team meetings to discuss their stance, with some opting for statements issued collectively.
The nine-week off-season regimen, to be published on Wednesday, consists of three stages that gradually increase the level of physical contact. The first phase will be virtual, with players likely to work in the team weight room. The next phase allows for on-field work at a gradual pace before traditional full-speed, organized team activities and eliminates the minicamp program.
The NFL, which implemented protocols such as routine testing, wearing masks, and social disturbances in team facilities, reported that 262 players and 463 team personnel tested positive for coronovirus, with a 0.08 percent positive rate. Similar protocols will take place this off season.
But Smith said those procedures do not apply to the current situation. More players will be in team buildings as they increase the likelihood for a spot to be broadcast for a spot on the active roster. Others may not live in the city where the team is based during spring and summer – Tretra said he was one of the six players who entered the Browns facility this off-season – and for travel risks Will create possibilities.
Smith said players do not have to risk their health during the alternate season, when they have to be present daily.
“It’s balancing the necessary versus unnecessary risks,” Smith said. “Our friends have to be week to week to compete at the level that our fans want them to compete on Sundays. The off season workout is the one thing we know that is not needed for a successful season. “
The data compiled by the players’ union shows that in the year 2020 there was a 30 percent drop from the average of 242 in the year 2020, which was 20 players per year in the last five seasons. Missed-time injuries, defined as injuries that affect a player’s availability during the season, decreased by 23 percent to 2,716 from a five-season average of 2,516.
Tretter argued that those data suggest that it is in the NFL’s best interest to continue last season’s blueprint, something Brady agreed with some.
“If we want to improve the game, we have to continue to have better year-round options as a league, as a team, as individuals.” Brady said.
Tretter said the workouts “lost the definition of completely voluntary” and some players may be forced to leave.
“There’s an expectation that you should just show up and do whatever the NFL should ask with you,” Tretter said. “Friends are now remembering that they have a choice to participate.”
Nevertheless, some consider the off-season programs to be beneficial. According to OvertheCap.com, more than 200 players can receive financial bonuses for participating in off-season workouts, a perk included in their contracts. Teams have the qualification of what they count as a workout, including whether they want the player to participate physically or virtually.
Face-to-face interactions can create rift among new players, and give them a chance to impress coaches early on the fringe of the roster.
Liege Steinberg, a longtime agent who represents Kansas City head quarterback Patrick Mahomes, said he sides with the union, but would advise any customer to make the best personal decision.
“When they call for advice, it’s a personal choice,” Steinberg said. “It’s dedicated to their position with the team, how safe they feel in their position and how much work they really need to do.”