A number of the NFL’s leading players have raised their concerns over the league’s Covid-19 safety protocols as teams prepare to start training camps ahead of the season.
Super Bowl 2020 MVP Patrick Mahomes and fellow Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks Drew Brees and Russell Wilson all called for the league to strengthen protocols to ensure players’ health and safety.
“I am concerned. My wife is pregnant,” Wilson tweeted. “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.”
The 2020-21 season is scheduled to start on September 10, with training camps confirmed to be going ahead as planned on July 28.
New Orleans Saints star Brees said he was concerned the NFL is not following the advice set out by its medical experts.
“We need Football! We need sports! We need hope!” he tweeted. “The NFL’s unwillingness to follow the recommendations of their own medical experts will prevent that. If the NFL doesn’t do their part to keep players healthy there is no football in 2020. It’s that simple. Get it done NFL.”
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Meanwhile Houston Texans star J.J. Watt tweeted a list of what players do and don’t know – notably whether they would be tested every day or every other day.
‘Guys standing up for each other’
In a statement, the NFL said all 32 teams had taken part in a conference call on Friday and were updated on the league’s current start plan for training camps and the season.
“We will continue to implement the health and safety protocols developed jointly with the NFLPA, and based on the advice of leading medical experts, including review by the CDC,” NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy said.
“We will address additional issues in a cooperative way. All decisions will be made in an effort to put us in position to play a full regular season and postseason culminating with the Super Bowl which is the shared goal of the clubs and the players.”
Mahomes, who recently signed a record-breaking contract with the Kansas City Chiefs worth up to $503 million, said he wants the NFL to keep its players safe.
“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,” he tweeted.
As of Friday, 72 players had tested positive for Covid-19.
“What you are seeing today is our guys standing up for each other and for the work their union leadership has done to keep everyone as safe as possible,” tweeted NFL Players Association President JC Tretter. “The NFL needs to listen to our union and adopt the experts’ recommendations #wewanttoplay.”