Russell Wilson, whose wife Ciara is pregnant, among star players who demand NFL safety plan

Chris Cwik
·3 min read

NFL players want to have a 2020 season, but only if the NFL gets its act together. A number of prominent players — including Drew Brees, J.J. Watt, Russell Wilson, Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson and Richard Sherman — criticized the league Sunday for its lack of safety protocols as training camps begin to open.

Wilson, 31, cited his wife Ciara’s pregnancy as a reason he’s concerned the league hasn’t issued a plan yet.

The 31-year-old Watt provided the most in-depth view of the situation, laying out the various issues the players need to be resolved before rookies report July 21.

Those issues include a training camp acclimation period, clarity over how often players will be tested for the coronavirus and how the league plans to handle a player who tests positive. Watt also mentioned a “strong and fair opt-out clause for those at higher rick or those with family members at higher risk.”

Watt detailed similar issues in a tweet Thursday.

Watt also explained that the players don’t have a say in whether they have to report. The league can mandate players show up to training camp even if the NFLPA has not negotiated an agreement. Players who do not show up can be fined, or considered in breach of contract. While some veteran players might be able to take that hit, many others — especially rookies — can’t take that risk.

Both Brees and Malcolm Jenkins pointed to the NFL ignoring the advice of its own medical experts.

The league’s joint medical committee recommended a 21-day acclimation period, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero. The league shortened that period so it could hold preseason games. The players don’t want to hold a preseason during the coronavirus pandemic.

It’s reached a point where at least one NBA player — Cleveland’s Larry Nance Jr. — is thankful he doesn’t play football.

It’s unclear whether the NFL and NFLPA can reach an agreement before rookies report July 21. If both sides can’t come to an agreement, things are going to get even more contentious, especially if players who report do not feel safe.

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