NFLPA tells players not to attend voluntary offseason workouts, citing coronavirus concerns

“We’re still in the middle of a pandemic with no comprehensive plan to keep players as safe as possible, but teams are pressuring players to participate in voluntary workouts,” the NFLPA said in a statement posted on Twitter Their Executive Director’s account has been published. DeMaurice Smith. “The union has advised players not to participate in these voluntary training sessions given the ongoing risk of exposure and the goal of a full NFL season in 2021. It is every player’s decision, but our advice is to continue to proceed with great caution given the current environment. “

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The union reiterated its stance in a memo that Smith and JC Tretter, of the Cleveland Browns Center, which is the president of the NFLPA, sent to all players on Tuesday. Players on three teams – the Denver Broncos, Seattle Seahawks, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers – announced through the NFLPA that they will not be participating in any off-season volunteer training sessions.

Most of each team’s offseason program for players is voluntary, although teams are also allowed to run mandatory mini-camps. Some players have written bonuses in their contracts that provide incentives for participating in off-season training sessions. Tretter and the NFLPA have claimed that personal offseason practices on the field pose unnecessary health and safety risks for players, arguing that the quality of play was not compromised last season after the fully virtual 2020 offseason.

However, some coaches and teams counter that the off-season practices are beneficial, especially for younger players. Teams have followed strict protocols over the past season, and the league seems to believe that it is safer for players to train in NFL facilities than anywhere else. According to a person familiar with the league’s view, the Broncos have had 22 players participate in informal workouts at their facility this off-season. A dozen teams had 15 or more players in their facilities for informal workouts.

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The league took another step on Tuesday to make the teams’ facilities safer. The NFL issued a memo to the teams that coaches and other staff must be vaccinated against the coronavirus, unless there is a valid exception, in order for them to be allowed to work with players.

“Level 1 and 2 employees (other than players) should be expected to be vaccinated unless they have a good medical or religious reason not to do so,” the league said in its memo. “Any employee who refuses to be vaccinated for no religious or medical reason is not entitled to level 1 or 2 status and therefore does not have access to the restricted area“ Football Only ”and may not work directly or in close proximity to players . “

The league previously said it would not mandate vaccinations for players but would encourage and incentivize players to get vaccinated. A person familiar with the NFLPA’s view said at the time that this was in line with the pages’ discussions on the matter up to this point.