NFL teams must skip voluntary workouts due to COVID-19 concerns

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Denver Broncos, Seattle Seahawks and Tampa Bay Buccaneers players released statements through the NFL Players Association on Tuesday, announcing that they would not be participating in in-person team events this spring due to concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.

“With off-season programs starting in less than a week and without adequate protocols in place for us players to return safely, we will exercise our right not to participate in voluntary off-season training,” it reads. the Broncos press release. “COVID-19 remains a serious threat to our families and communities, and it makes no sense for us as players to put ourselves at risk during this dead period. Positivity rates in our city are higher than they were around this time last year and we know that players have been infected at club facilities in recent weeks.

“Despite a completely virtual offseason last year, the quality of play in the NFL was better than ever in almost every way. We hope the NFL players will work with our union as we did to get all the facts so that every player can make an informed decision.

The Seattle Seahawks issued a similar statement.

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“For the protection of the safety of all, we, the Seattle Seahawks, decide to exercise our CBA right not to participate in voluntary in-person training,” the statement read in part. “While many states in this country are still seeing an increase in the number of COVID-19, we believe that a virtual offseason is the best for the protection of all.

“Our hope is that we will see a positive change in COVID-19 data that will allow a safe return for players when mandatory training is about to begin.”

Last Friday, NFLPA President JC Tretter said the union would urge players not to show up if teams host OTAs in person. On Tuesday, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith and Tretter reiterated the union’s position in a note sent to all players.

“We have been in regular contact with the NFL over negotiations on a virtual offseason,” the memo read, per NFL Media. “As we have shared with your Executive Committee and Board of Directors, it is clear that neither side wants to give up their respective positions. As we made clear throughout the negotiations: the status of COVID in the country is as perilous as it was at this point last year; a number of players have recently tested positive at the teams’ facilities. Positive weekly COVID rates are as high, if not higher, than at this point in the last offseason; and NFL players who contracted COVID last season may be infected again.

“We believe that having the same offseason rules as last year is in the best interests of… players and gives us the best chance of completing a full NFL season in 2021.

“As you know, aside from the minicamps, all off-season training is completely voluntary despite some of the language the clubs have used in recent days. And, while the CBA allows teams to host mandatory minicamps, we believe the league should make them virtual like last season.

“It’s the NFLPA’s recommendation based on advice from our medical experts that if the voluntary off-season program is in person, players should not attend. Therefore, as teams organize calls to discuss these issues, we urge all players to consider their own health and safety, make a personal decision regarding participation in voluntary training, and take the recommendation into consideration. NFLPA COVID Committee unanimous that we have an all-virtual offseason. “

The reigning Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers has also joined the list of teams that will not participate in volunteer workouts at team premises.

“The NFL players in our league are a professional bunch who care about our jobs, our community and our families,” the Bucs said in a union statement. “We have a commitment to the organization, to the Bucs fans and to each other to come back and try to bring another World Championship to Tampa Bay.

“We know our union has worked to negotiate safety protocols, but in light of the ongoing pandemic, we are choosing to take a stand with other league players and exercise our right not to participate in the program. voluntary offseason. We had a completely virtual offseason last year, and we held each other accountable for doing the work necessary to win and we plan to do it again. “

The Bucs, along with quarterback Tom Brady, fire 22 starters from the 2020 Super Bowl squad.

Off-season programs can start on Monday.

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