Early on Tuesday morning, the NFL Players Association released an official statement announcing their unanimous vote to call for the NFL to cancel all preseason games this year.
According to the memo, the NFL is justifying the need for at least two exhibition games for a pair of reasons: 1. The preseason games are necessary to in order to test the COVID-19 protocols, and 2. the NFL’s Management Council Executive Committee believes the games are necessary to prepare players for the season.
Here’s the resolution the NFLPA board of representatives passed Thursday, calling on the NFL to cancel all 2020 preseason games: pic.twitter.com/Y8ApvxEBYs— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) July 7, 2020
However, the NFLPA is refuting both points due to the lack of medical evidence provided by the league to support both of their claims.
“...that in light of the absence of medical justification for holding any preseason games and the necessity of adhering to the acclimation period in order to reduce the possibility of injuries, the NFLPA Board of Player Representatives recommends that no preseason games be played during the 2020 NFL preseason, and the Board calls upon the NFL to cancel all preseason games due to the ongoing COVID pandemic.”
The NFLs unwillingness to follow the recommendations of its own experts will put this season and the safety of all players at risk. This year must look differently if we hope to play a full season and crown a Super Bowl Champion. Read: https://t.co/lp7vFYFFjN— JC Tretter (@JCTretter) July 7, 2020
The president of the NFLPA, Cleveland Browns center JC Tretter, also penned an open letter discussing his thoughts and mindset about the current conflict between the NFL and the union.
“Our normal return date for training camp is quickly approaching and we are still far from back to “normal,” the letter begins. “Our main concern is player safety, both in regard to preventing the virus’ transmission as well as preventing injuries after an extended and historically unique layoff.”
“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. That pervasive thought process will stop this season in its tracks.”
The main point Tretter tries to hammer home to readers is that NFL players believe they need a much longer ramp-up period prior to playing any games — preseason or regular season — due to the unusually long layoff period that his offseason has provided. According to Tretter, following the 2011 lockout, the overall injury rate following the return to play grew by over 25%. He goes on to note that Achilles injuries “more than doubled” and hamstring injuries went up over 44%.
“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.”
If there’s one other thing that Tretter tries to make very clear in his letter, it’s the importance of making sure that NFL players don’t just get back to work, but that they are able to STAY at work once they return.
As fans, this is also what we should all want. It unfortunately means the wait for actual football will be extended by at least another three weeks. That is, if the opening game of the regular season continue to stay scheduled for Sept. 10.