Rozner: NFL players want questions answered before kickoff

  • Houston Texans veteran defensive end J.J. Watt got the conversation going last Thursday as NFL players questioned what was going on with the league's safety protocols during a pandemic.

    Houston Texans veteran defensive end J.J. Watt got the conversation going last Thursday as NFL players questioned what was going on with the league's safety protocols during a pandemic.

 
 
Updated 7/20/2020 5:29 PM

The NFL Players Association has never been very good at anything.

It has been especially bad at looking out for the players and negotiating deals that benefit the players, and it has been a punching bag for Roger Goodell in CBA talks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

But over the weekend it finally got the players together, following the lead of baseball players, and took to Twitter to pound on the NFL for what it perceives to be a lack of planning and safety precautions as camps are set to open.

Unlike their baseball brethren, who embarrassed themselves with "Tell Us When and Where," and then didn't accept a deal that told them precisely when and where, the NFLPA did a nice job getting the guys together and explaining just what they're worried about, frequently adding the hashtag, "We Want To Play."

And it left the rest of us with the distinct feeling that the NFL is in for a battle before anything gets decided and before players are willing to start playing football.

J.J. Watt began the assault on Thursday when he tweeted his concerns on behalf of all players, stating the following:

"We want to play. We want to be as safe as possible. We have not received a single valid IDER (Infectious Disease Emergency Response) plan from any team or the league.

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"We don't know if there are any preseason games. We don't know if there will be daily testing. We don't know how a potential positive COVID test would affect contracts, roster spots.

"Nothing has been agreed upon regarding what training camp will actually look like and how the 'ramp up' period will work. We want to play."

On Sunday, Watt added more to his tweet, writing, "The NFL can mandate players show up to training camp regardless (of whether) any agreement has been reached. We still have not been granted the full and proper training camp acclimation period as recommended by the medical and training staffs.

"A strong and fair opt-out clause for those at higher risk has still not been agreed upon. If players do not show up on time, they can be fined or considered in breach of contract."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Having set the stage and clearly with everyone from the NFLPA on board, the stars came out on social media to support Watt and their union brethren.

Wrote Patrick Mahomes, "Getting ready to report this week. Hoping the NFL will come to agreement with the safe and right protocols so we can feel protected playing the sport we love."

Said Drew Brees, "We need Football! We need sports! We need hope! The NFL's unwillingness to follow the recommendations of their own medical experts will prevent that. If the NFL doesn't do their part to keep players healthy there is no football in 2020. It's that simple. Get it done NFL."

Russell Wilson said, "I am concerned. My wife is pregnant. NFL Training camp is about to start. And there's still No Clear Plan on Player Health and Family Safety. We want to play football but we also want to protect our loved ones."

Not all were as kind to the league.

Richard Sherman said, "The NFL has ignored the safety recommendations from the experts that THEY hired. We all love this game and want to go out and compete with our brothers. The NFL needs to provide a safe work environment for us to do that."

Added Malcolm Jenkins, "It blows my mind that the NFL is unwilling to follow the recommendations of their own experts regarding player health and safety. If we want to have a FULL season this year we need the NFL to listen to their experts!"

Many wondered why the NFL commissioner wasn't as willing to hear the words of its players, as was the NBA boss.

Michael Thomas tweeted, "If Adam Silver can respect the voices and protect his NBA players, why can't NFL commish do the same? Listen to your players."

The message was organized and clear, and the players were heard by a country desperate to get NFL football on the field in 2020.

What they did not talk about are the financial implications of a season without fans in the stands and how this will affect revenue and salaries going forward.

As was the case with baseball, this promises to be a serious issue moving forward.

The owners held a conference call Monday afternoon, after which it was reported that the two sides are getting closer on some of the issues, including daily testing for the first two weeks of camp.

The full-squad reporting date for most teams is next Tuesday, including the Bears, who would like to conduct a quarterback competition and could certainly use the preseason for looking at their quarterbacks, unlike their policy of a year ago.

So it looks for now like the NFLPA's Twitter blitz worked and the two sides are talking, but the NFL has had four or five months to get this figured out.

What did it take until the eve of camp to get serious?

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