NFLPA president issues important reminder as planning for 2020 season continues

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Before the NFL can finalize its plans for 2020, the NFL Players Association must agree to those plans. Whether part of an orchestrated P.R. campaign or not, fans will choose sides if it appears that the league and union can’t agree on one or more issues.

And so the NFLPA wisely is getting ahead of that potential battle by reminding its players — and anyone else — of the realities of the situation. A message posted by NFLPA president and Browns center JC Tretter addresses several key dynamics regarding the situation, while also making it clear that the process of balancing the wishes of the teams with the rights of the players may not go as smoothly as some had assumed.

“Any time there is uncertainty, a tough issue or even when we are at odds with the NFL, a few common narratives arise from the media and public,” Tretter writes. “Professional athletes in every sport have to regularly fend off criticism that our profession should be considered less of a job and that we shouldn’t fight for protections and benefits. As we begin our fight for necessary COVID-19 protections, these recycled misconceptions will be used to undermine the strength of our union and the legitimacy of your career.”

Tretter then addresses several of the misconceptions, beginning with a line that the Commissioner has rattled off from time to time in the past: “Playing in the NFL is a privilege, not a right.”

“It’s neither,” Tretter explains. “It’s your job. It is a highly sought-after job and a childhood dream, but it is a job, nonetheless. You worked your ass off to earn this job, and you have to continue to work your ass off to keep it. Do not allow anyone to undermine the work you put in day after day to earn a spot in this profession. The attempt to frame your occupation as a ‘privilege’ is a way to make you feel like you should be happy with whatever you get versus exercising your right to fight for more protections and benefits.”

Next, Tretter tackles the argument that players should play “for the love of the game,” and nothing more.

“I love what I do,” Tretter says. “I know a lot of my peers love what they do, too. There are people in all different professions who love what they do. Being passionate about your job shouldn’t prevent you from seeking better pay, benefits and work rules from your employer. Our careers are short and painful. Like every other worker, we should always work to maximize what we get for our services and realize our full value.”

Next comes a response to this plea: “Just go play! You’re young and healthy. You will all be fine. We need sports back.”

“We are not invincible, and as recent reports have shown, we certainly aren’t immune to this virus,” Tretter writes. “Underlying conditions like high BMI, asthma, and sleep apnea are all associated with a higher risk of developing severe symptoms and complications when infected with COVID-19. Those conditions are widespread across the league. NFL players are humans — some with immuno-compromised family members or live-in elderly parents. Trust me: We want to play football. But as a union, our most important job is keep our players safe and alive. The NFLPA will fight for our most at-risk players and their families.”

Then, Tretter addresses the argument that NFL players make too much money, with an explanation that should put that argument to bed forever.

“As employees of NFL teams, we put a product on the field that brings in billions of dollars,” Tretter observes. “The NFLPA collectively bargained for a percentage of that revenue. When the NFL and NFLPA split up billions of dollars, that leaves players in a position to make life-changing money. If less money was allocated to players, NFL owners would not turn around and gift the extra revenue to pay teachers, nurses, or other workers more money. The shaming of players (workers) to take less compensation will only further line the billionaire owners’ pockets.”

Finally, Tretter takes on the notion that, because other Americans have to return to work during the pandemic, football players should, too.

“It is the responsibility of the employer to provide a safe work environment,” Tretter says. “I encourage all workers to hold their employers accountable to high standards. More so than any other sport, the game of football is the perfect storm for virus transmission. There are protections, both short and long term, that must be agreed upon before we can safely return to work. The NFLPA will be diligent as we demand that the NFL provide us the safest workplace possible. . . . Our individual workplaces may be different, but we should support our fellow workers in pursuing gains instead of shaming them to come back to the pack. No worker should be complacent with their rights because they have what others outside their business deem ‘good enough.’ Instead of racing to the bottom, let’s push each other to the top.”

Amen to everything Tretter said. Although the decision to anticipate these issues at the outset of the effort to hammer out proper protocols for 2020 suggests that a “fight” (as Tretter used the word) is indeed coming, it’s the job of the union to fight for player rights; otherwise, those who will be assuming zero physical risk during football games in a pandemic will be tempted to push for scenarios that are less about maximizing player safety and more about illustrating the concept of “my guts, your blood.”

30 responses to “NFLPA president issues important reminder as planning for 2020 season continues

  1. Sports will be a welcome relief for all of us going to work who are keeping the economy going through these times. If we can work, athletes have no excuse. Its the least these atletes could do to return the favor. The above article sounded like they have no care in the world to give somehthing back to the rest of us plowing through these times with Covid all around us.

  2. The athletes owe nothing to us. They deserve the same protections that many of us get from our employers. Millions of Americans, especially white collar workers, are safely working from home. Other “essential” employees are gong in to work and are trying to stay as safe as possible, but it is their decision.

    The bottom line is that it should be up to the individual workers (or workers with their unions) to decide when to go back to work.

    I miss the NFL, but it is in no way essential. The players should play when the league and teams can guarantee a reasonable level of safety, as all of us should demand regarding our jobs.

  3. Football uniforms seem uniquely suited for conversion to hazmat suits. Why not delay the season by a couple of months so that its cooler and build full plexiglass shields and breathing apparatus into the helmets

  4. These athletes compete hard and spit and sweat is slung all over that field. Including (unintentionally) into each others faces, eyes, and mouths. This isn’t the same as your employer setting up screen and social distancing within the office. Athletes simply cannot operate in that type of environment. Sports isn’t necessary right now. We all need to focus on the real issues.

  5. Completely agree with what he is saying. However, this is just getting out ahead of the backlash that they know is coming. They know it is coming because, frankly, tey know the union is never going to agree to terms that would allow games to happen this year. Anyone who didnt think the season was in jeopardy before, should pretty much abandon all hope of a season, partial or otherwise. The players arent going to suit up. And thats their right, thats fine. But lets be honest about what we just read. It was 1,000 words that = “we dont want to play this year because it is going to be very dangerous”. On to 2021.

  6. I can’t believe it but I’m with Florio on this. I support everything Tretter wrote. That said I hope they play the season in the UK where players won’t kneel for ‘God Save the Queen’. Look it up.

  7. So what happens if we never find a vaccine? Should all sports just fold up? Should we just stay in our houses for months and hide behind our masks?

    All this chaos and economic destruction for a virus with a death rate of less than 1% (when you include the asymptomatics).

    Imagine what would happen if this virus had a death rate of 10%…. End of civilization. We would collapse.

  8. One thing that makes being an NFL player very different than a normal job, is that its a very short career. You don’t have 45 years to make your earnings, you have 3 – 10. Football players have more to lose than your average employee. They also have lower risk than your average employee (not no risk) but that average age is a lot less than Amazon warehouse workers.

    And of course their job is a lot more visible than the norm. All the things that make being an NFL player pay well, means you are going to feel more heat for not wanting to work to reduce your risk. You don’t get the big pay without the downsides.

  9. The best guess estimates put the death rate of Covid-19 patients at .5% to 1%. With the addition of 2 guys on the PS, we have 65 players per team.

    32 x 65 = 2080

    2080 x .5% = 10.4
    2080 x 1% = 20.8

    That’s 10 – 21 players. There are a whole lot more people in each organization but we’ll stick to players. Somewhere between 10 – 21 players will likely die if they can’t figure out a way to do this safely. So… which one of you guys that “needs” football so badly wants to pick ’em? Which lives mean less than your entertainment?

  10. I agree with Joe j. There is no way this is over for years, if ever. It’s just another killer for certain people just as cancer, flu, diabetes, car accidents, you name it. Life must go on and unfortunately some lives will be affected forever by it just as lives are affected every day by something. Shutting things down will not make it go away. Let’s get back to living as we always have

  11. Joe J says:
    June 30, 2020 at 1:32 pm
    So what happens if we never find a vaccine? Should all sports just fold up? Should we just stay in our houses for months and hide behind our masks?
    —————————————————-
    You clearly have not been paying attention. Not only will there be multiple vaccines but they are going to be manufactured before all the clinical testing is done with the hope it all works out and they can be brought to market earlier. This is the concerning part of the process. The issue will be are they both safe and effective?

  12. The Almighty Cabbage says:
    June 30, 2020 at 3:14 pm
    The best guess estimates put the death rate of Covid-19 patients at .5% to 1%. With the addition of 2 guys on the PS, we have 65 players per team.

    32 x 65 = 2080

    2080 x .5% = 10.4
    2080 x 1% = 20.8

    That’s 10 – 21 players. There are a whole lot more people in each organization but we’ll stick to players. Somewhere between 10 – 21 players will likely die if they can’t figure out a way to do this safely. So… which one of you guys that “needs” football so badly wants to pick ’em? Which lives mean less than your entertainment?
    =====================
    I understand the point you are getting to, but you are using “everyone” and comparing it to football players. The death rate of 70 years olds is different from 20 years olds. Your 0.5 – 1 % argument is apples to oranges. What is the death rate for men in the 20-40 age group. I am not arguing in favor of a season, but your numbers arent a fair argument.

  13. Most of the arguments for playing center around the low risk to the players. It doesn’t take into account the children, family, and community whom the players will interact with after games.

    I really hope they play. But that is me being selfish. I miss sports badly! Plus I want to see Brady in TB as well as see if Newton plays for the PATS. Will the PATS lose the division after 11 years? If so who will win it? Can the Chiefs repeat? The 49ers? What will the Titans do this year? These (and so many more) are great story lines which NFL fans are chomping at the bit to see.

  14. I am extremely impressed with Tretter. He really knows how to control the narrative. We play when we agree to play is his message.

  15. Man it would have been nice to have competent leader during all of this. The lack of a nationwide response is now proving to be a mistake like all of the doctors said it would.

    The plan I heard today from Joe sounded pretty good.

  16. It would be fantastic to have a normal football season. Especially to distract myself from the antics of national politics. However, my wife is a health care industry manager and sits in on the daily county health agency briefing each morning. There is no way that any kind of season can be held given the current outbreak. Just the logistics alone rule it out. How will teams in areas of low injection rates (which appear to be vanishing) feel about traveling to hotspots? How will teams traveling from hotspots deal with quarantining restrictions in states that impose them? How will players be able to freely travel under those circumstances? And what happens if stay at home restrictions need to be imposed because hospitals are like M*A*S*H units?

    Where do teams hold training camps? What happens to players that are cut? Do they travel freely, stay in camp for 14 days or have to self-quarantine? If they are required to self-quarantine then where do they do that and will they be paid? What about support staff such as facility maintenance, uniform services, food service workers, delivery drivers, security personnel and anyone else? Who will take care of them should they become infected and require hospitalization? Then there’s media personnel. They travel and fall all over themselves and everyone else. How do you have them maintain safe social distancing and comply with any travel restrictions.

    Speaking of security what will happen when LEO’s and stadium security have to go hands-on with drunk fans? They are now at increased risk of exposure. And what of the paramedics who will have to treat them and any others who require first aid assistance? Ambulances will need to be disinfected a bazillion times a second almost. Who is going to pay for all of this?

    Then there is the matter of venues. How do you sanitize an entire stadium? Indoor stadiums are out of the question. Even if they are equipped with super-duper air filtration imagine having 80,000 fans shoulder-to-shoulder many of which that will refuse to wear PPE. So how many home venues does that rule out? Even if you play in an outdoor stadium you still have the should-to-shoulder issue and non-compliance with wearing PPE. Do you limit capacity to 50% Is that cost effective?

    Then there’s the issue of family and loved ones. For each of those people listed above they will then come into contact with who knows how many others. Then those they come in into contact with go forth and contact many others and so on and so on. How do you guard against that.

    One thing not being discussed is that we are now in the height of summer. Viruses historically do not thrive in heat and humidity yet Covid-19 seems to. What will happen when the fall and winter weather arrive?

    Nothing would make me happier than to sit back on Sunday, forget about the silly season and watch 9 or 10 hours of football. But until we get a firm handle on the situation it would be insane to fill or nearly fill a NFL venue or bring teams together to play. The lesson of the experience of Philadelphia during the 1918 pandemic should be all we need for guidance on this (Google Liberty Loans Parade).

    I can’t for the life of me see how it can be safe to play the season as things currently stand.

  17. The Almighty Cabbage says:
    June 30, 2020 at 3:14 pm

    The best guess estimates put the death rate of Covid-19 patients at .5% to 1%. With the addition of 2 guys on the PS, we have 65 players per team.

    32 x 65 = 2080

    2080 x .5% = 10.4
    2080 x 1% = 20.8

    That’s 10 – 21 players. There are a whole lot more people in each organization but we’ll stick to players. Somewhere between 10 – 21 players will likely die if they can’t figure out a way to do this safely. So… which one of you guys that “needs” football so badly wants to pick ’em? Which lives mean less than your entertainment?

    ——
    While I agree with point of your argument, I’m curious where you got numbers that point to fatality rates that low. According to the well respected Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center, as of this posting there have been 2,628,091 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the US. Per the same source, there are 127,286 COVID-19 deaths in the US (though numbers very slightly among most reputable sources, all the ones I’ve seen give similar numbers).

    127,286/2,628,091 = .0484 x 100 = 4.84% fatality rate for confirmed US cases.

    I’ve been transparent about the source of my information, the formula used to calculate fatality rate and the current fatality this data yields. These are confirmed cases from a reputable source. I’m a quantitative analysis guy. I get that some people would look at that formula, see .0484 and forget that to get a percentage you have to multiply by 100. But there are just wild ranges I’ve seen just on this site, none of which have included a source or methodology that let any intelligent person decide if they are realistic, flawed, or pulled out….let’s go with thin air.

  18. The NBA lead the sports world in shutting down their season. Reading Commissioner Silver’s comments today hedging on the upcoming tourney makes me wonder if they will again be leading the pack. The Nets have players dropping like flies, and there is a rumors (always to be taken with a grain of salt) that there are bigger names that are considering this as cover to come out against playing at this time. If that happens, that gives cover to a sport like the NFL where the players have less – but still quite a bit – of power over whether games are played. To me personally, all this talk of sports going full speed ahead without seeing significant delays and cancellations seems about as likely as an unmasked being invited to be the official greater at an AARP convention.

  19. Sorry, that should have read “…all this talk of sports going full speed ahead without seeing significant delays and cancellations seems about as likely as an unmasked Novak Djokovic being invited to be the official greater at an AARP convention.

  20. I work from home now. At my dinner table that I havent been able to eat at since being sent home.

    I also had a massive stroke in 2017 and missed only 26 days before getting a doc to sign off to return before I could even sign my own name.

    I work.

    If you are immuno-compromised you have to make your election. Even if not, it is your choice. Dont cry about it ….just make a choice and remember there are plenty of athletes that will be glad to assume your role.

    Finally, I will NEVER attend another MLB game after watching their bickering and I can save 5K a year if I eliminate my NFL tickets, lodging, etc. Basically, 10 percent of my salary.

    But then again you get 5k for going in April and doing 20 arm curls.

    So …make your choice!!

  21. I got the numbers from my doc yesterday in a phone conference. Anyways…

    Girth Brooks says 10 to 21 players is too high.

    2020vision says 10 to 21 players is too low. By a lot, using the 4.84% figure (and I would tend to trust his numbers here).

    Thankfully, they were both articulate and respectful and we three seem to be pretty much on the same page.

    So for the guys that “need” football so badly, and/or think you are “owed” entertainment, let’s try it this way. How many dead players is acceptable to you? If you’ve posted even one time about how the season must go on, post up your number. How many young lives, in their prime, is your entertainment worth?

  22. Jack Bauer says:
    July 1, 2020 at 8:35 am
    People are still buying into this fear smh

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    People are still dying.

    Science is still real.

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