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NFL players take to social media to highlight health, safety concerns of starting training camp amid coronavirus pandemic

2020-07-25

Dozens of well-known NFL players took to social media to air out their issues with the NFL starting training camp without legitimate plans to make training camp a safe environment. Using the hashtag #WeWantToPlay, players expressed their reasons for being concerned with the NFL’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Those players include Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, Falcons running back Todd Gurley, Browns defensive end Myles Garrett, Rams quarterback Jared Goff, Dolphins cornerback Byron Jones and more.

“My wife is pregnant. @NFL Training camp is about to start,” Wilson tweeted. “And there’s still No Clear Plan on Player Health & Family Safety. We want to play football but we also want to protect our loved ones.

Houston Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt posted a list of unresolved items as the league barrels full speed into training camp in the middle of an uncontained pandemic.

“Once again in the interest of keeping everyone [players & fans] as informed as possible, here is an updated list of what we as players know and don’t know as the first group gets set to report to training camp tomorrow,” Watt said.

Those issues included the NFL being able to mandate that players show up to training camp despite no agreement between the NFL and NFLPA, the lack of a “strong” opt-out cause for high risk players and players with high risk family members, detailed testing protocols and clarity on the amount of preseason games. 

Players may be subject to fines if they fail to report for training camp.

The Chiefs and Texans are scheduled to report to training camp this week with rookies and quarterbacks showing up on Monday. Players will be tested for coronavirus upon arrival and begin practicing in 48 hours if they are negative. 

It should be clear that NFL players in general do want to play. It just has to be safe. The general public would benefit from the NFL figuring this out as well. As soon as the NFL begins training camp, with no bubble, they immediately become arbiters of public health.

Tom Pelissero of NFL Network reported that all 32 teams have submitted infectious disease emergency response (IDER) plans and that those plans have been approved by NFL chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills. The union must approve the IDERs before more than 20 players can be allowed at any facility.

The NFL owners appear dead set on starting the season on time, but that may not be possible because they have not hammered all the details with the NFLPA.