NFL Players Association president JC Tretter said Tuesday the NFL is putting the 2020 season at risk with its coronavirus approach, calling on the league to better "prioritize player safety."
"Like many other industries, football’s resistance to change is based on the belief that the best way to run things is the way we’ve always run things," Tretter wrote in a post titled "Prioritizing Player Safety In a Pandemic" on the NFLPA's website.
"That pervasive thought process will stop this season in its tracks. ... 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."
Tretter added that he believes that the NFL "is unwilling to prioritize player safety and believes that the virus will bend to football."
With three weeks to go until the planned start of training camps on July 28, disagreements are still in place between the NFL and its players union on how to best execute camps and the preseason. Tretter, a center for the Cleveland Browns and the NFLPA's president since March, said the NFL is lacking foresight with its initiative for the 2020 season amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Since March, we have had hours of return to work meetings, reviewed research and developed detailed protocols – all of which will be wasted if the NFL refuses to think and act differently when it comes to getting through a full season," Tretter wrote. "Players don't just want to return to work; we want to stay at work."
Tretter took issue with the league planning to hold two preseason games per team without citing medical reasons and the league rationalizing the decision as a necessary way to evaluate rosters. The NFLPA Board of Player Representatives unanimously voted for all preseason games to be canceled.
Despite the union and league jointly approving some COVID-19 protocols for training camp and preseason, Tretter noted that the NFL rejected a 48-day training camp schedule that the NFL-NFLPA joint committee of doctors, trainers and strength coaches recommended.
"We don't want to merely return to work and have the season shut down before we even get started," he wrote. "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."