BOSTON (CBS) — The NFL has had a very long time to prepare for football in the era of COVID-19. Yet the NFL does not appear to have many solutions when it comes to getting players on the field this summer.
That lack of a plan may end up wiping away the entire preseason, too, as The Washington Post’s Mark Maske reported that the NFL and NFLPA are at odds with regard to preseason games being played this summer.
According to a source, the joint medical committee between the NFL and NFLPA recommended one or two preseason games. The league wants a two-game preseason. The NFLPA is seeking no preseason games. No resolution yet, source says.
— MarkMaske (@MarkMaske) July 7, 2020
Last week, the NFL reduced the preseason from four games to two games. Earlier on Tuesday, Ravens backup quarterback Robert Griffin III tweeted that there won’t be a preseason this summer.
Sources say there will be no preseason this year
— Robert Griffin III (@RGIII) July 7, 2020
Also on Tuesday, NFLPA president JC Tretter wrote about his and the union’s skepticism that the NFL will create a safe environment for players, which partly contributed to the union’s desire to play no preseason games.
“The NFL has recently stated it wants to play two preseason games. When we asked for a medical reason to play games that don’t count in the standings during an ongoing pandemic, the NFL failed to provide one,” Tretter wrote. “The league did provide a football reason, though — to evaluate rosters. The NFL also stated that it was important to stage preseason games to check how our game protocols will work. With no medical reason provided for holding any preseason games and the desire to follow the Joint Committee’s recommendations, the NFLPA Board of Player Representatives unanimously voted against any preseason games this season.”
Tretter stressed that players want to not just return to work but to be able to stay at work. Given the way the league is approaching football during the coronavirus pandemic, Tretter expressed doubts for that to be able to happen.
“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 said. “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.”
With just weeks remaining before camps open around the country, it’s quite clear that the NFL and the NFLPA have numerous issues to figure out. Those efforts will begin with the preseason, but with life in America unlikely to change significantly before September, the issues are sure to continue through what is supposed to be the start of the regular season.