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JC Tretter: NFL unwilling to prioritize player safety

Browns center and NFLPA president chastises league officials over handling of COVID-19 pandemic.

Cleveland Browns v Pittsburgh Steelers

NFL league officials remain confident that training camps will open later this month and that the 2020 regular season will kick off as scheduled on September 10 despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic

The NFL Players Association is not as hopeful.

Cleveland Browns center and union president JC Tretter posted an article Tuesday on the union’s website chastising league officials about their handling of the situation and warning that if nothing changes, the upcoming season will be grind to a halt this fall.

Tretter writes that players not only want to return to the field, they want to ensure that they can remain on the field once training camps begin. But the league’s insistence on conducting business as usual will make that increasingly difficult, according to Tretter.

Among the issues that Tretter highlights include the increased risk of injury to players who have not been able to participate in a traditional offseason program; the league not following a Joint Committee’s recommendations about a 48-day training camp schedule; and the league’s desire to play two preseason games in August instead of no preseason games as the union recommended.

Tretter writes that the status quo is simply not good enough given the current situation:

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.

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 league office has not issued a reply to Tretter’s statements, according to ESPN’s Kevin Seifert, and training camps are currently scheduled to open on July 28 for the majority of the league’s players.

The league previously cancelled the annual Pro Football Hall of Fame Game, scheduled for August 6 in Canton, and while it has been rumored that the league will cancel two preseason games for each team, no official word has come out.