For a long time, certainly until head injuries became a growing concern over the past decade, safety was not at the top of the NFL’s priorities as it should have been. For legal and sensible reasons, he reacted to address these concerns … too late, unfortunately, for Steelers Hall of Fame member Mike Webster (CTE), too late for Dave Duerson and Junior Seau, who committed suicide. , too late for a linebacker named Chris Borland, who retired five years ago at the age of 24.
But here we are in the throes of a raging pandemic that has continued to confuse the best and brightest minds in health and science, and with the toll of around 140,000 dead in this country alone and count, a sport too attractive for a highly contagious virus, and leading players on Sunday deciding to launch a call on social networks to owners:
We want to play but we want to be safe.
In other words: prevention is better than cure.
Is it a negotiation tactic?
Or does it signal a lack of trust between players and owners?
Let it happen at a time when players have to start showing up at training camp by July 28 … when rookies of the Chiefs and Texans have to show up on Monday …
Is this sense of the rope predictable?
Or is it a disturbing development that could complicate, if not delay and endanger, the NFL #WeWantToWatch season?
Stop the madness!
From Patrick Mahomes to Drew Brees to Myles Garrett, Carson Wentz, Jarvis Landry, Demarcus Lawrence and many others, a Twitter blitz has decried the NFL’s COVID-19 protocols as ranging from unsatisfactory to dangerous.
Lawrence: “How has @NFL had so much time to prepare but still doesn’t have a real plan in place? We are less than 10 days before we have to report! I refuse to put my pregnant wife / family in danger without understanding exactly what the plan will be for our safety and well-being. ”
Of course, the NFL has a real plan.
It is an elaborate plan.
But a big part of the problem is that the league, for whatever reason, has not effectively communicated this plan to players.
There is no vaccine. Only informed assumptions about who might be vulnerable and at risk.
It’s more of a life and death issue for football than it is in any other sport.
Of course, the NFL has backup protocols in place. It would be professional misconduct if the league did not do this, and the league knows this better than anyone.
But players still have some legitimate concerns that the league should address, and NOW.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell listened to the players when they made this compelling video of the Black Lives Matter after the death of George Floyd while in police custody, and now the players – in black and white – remind her that their life counts while playing a 60 minute collision sport. which requires blocking and attacking and snuggling.
Stefon Diggs: “If #AdamSilver can respect voices and protect its @NBA players, why can’t @nflcommish do the same? Listen to your players. If we want to have a full season, it will have to be different with OUR safety as a priority. @NFL is making the necessary changes. ”
The NFL, even with its implementation of contact tracing, even with tracking devices on players, should comply with its plan to test players three times a week and accept daily tests.
And the league is expected to give up preseason games.
The risk is not worth the reward.
I will let the two sides work to come to an agreement on the remaining issues – the opt-out and the acclimatization period between them – and the economics.
No one wants this to be a repeat of the ugly feud between the owners of the MLB and the players that has been resolved with a 60 game season.
Everything except that.
NFL: Don’t do that to yourself. Don’t do this to us. Do not play with our emotions. Do you want to play. You all agree on that.