A number of prominent NFL players raised concerns on social media about the league’s coronavirus safety protocols as teams prepare to open for training camps in the coming days.
The NFL and the players’ union are still negotiating the details of the league’s protocols to prevent the spread of the virus.
Players used the hashtag #WeWantToPlay in a coordinated social media blitz Sunday. It included marquee names such as Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt and reigning Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes.
“Getting ready to report this week hoping the @NFL will come to agreement with the safe and right protocols so we can feel protected playing the sport we love,” Mahomes tweeted.
Wilson, who is married to singer Ciara, cited his wife’s pregnancy as his reason for wanting clarity in how the league will handle the safety of players and their families.
“I am concerned,” Wilson wrote on Twitter.
“My wife is pregnant. @NFL Training camp is about to start.. And there’s still No Clear Plan on Player Health & Family Safety. We want to play football but we also want to protect our loved ones.”
Watt tweeted a list of issues he said are still unclear about the testing of players.
“We still do not know if there will be daily testing, every other day testing, etc,” Watt wrote. “We still do not know how a positive Covid test will be handled in regards to others in close contact (in the huddle, directly engaged with, etc.).”
Watt also pointed out that the NFL can mandate players report to training camp regardless of whether players’ questions or concerns are answered. He added that “if players do not show up on time, they can be fined or considered in breach of contract.”
Rookies for the Texans and the Chiefs are slated to report to training camp on Monday. These two teams are scheduled to kick off the NFL season with a matchup on Sept. 10.
The NFL has said repeatedly that its goal is to play a full season beginning in the fall.
The players voiced their concerns on social media shortly after the NFL announced that teams would hold full training camps, with veterans due to report on July 28, according to NFL.com.
According to an internal memo, rookies for other teams are scheduled to report Tuesday, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported. Quarterback and players who are injured are scheduled to report to training camp on Thursday.
Pelissero also reported Monday that talks between the NFL and the players’ union, the NFLPA, are ongoing. One sticking point is how many preseason games will be played ahead of the start of the regular season.
“So it now appears likely the NFL will have either one preseason game or none in 2020. Focus continues to be on playing a regular full season and postseason,” he said on Twitter Monday.
Players are lobbying to have a 45-day acclimation period to help prevent injuries, The Associated Press reported, as the league attempts to start its preseason regimen. The wire service added that there are still unanswered questions about what protections might be in place for players who want to opt out of the season because of coronavirus concerns.