Browns center and NFLPA president JC Tretter issued a warning Tuesday on the NFLPA website after the NFLPA board of player representatives voted unanimously against playing any preseason games this year.
“Like many other industries, football’s resistance to change is based on the belief that the best way to run things is the way we’ve always run things,” Tretter wrote. “That pervasive thought process will stop this season in its tracks.”
The NFL contends that the two preseason games are necessary to evaluate rosters and to test game protocols.
The players disagree.
During the pandemic, the NFL and NFLPA formed a joint committee of doctors, trainers and strength coaches “to develop protocols designed to bring players up to full speed in a healthy way when they return.”
The league agreed with the recommendations not to allow fans at training camp and eliminate joint practices – the Browns were scheduled to visit Green bay prior to a preseason game against the Packers – but Tretter is frustrated that other recommendations are not being implemented, including a 48-day training camp schedule.
“Despite these experts’ assessment that teams face a serious risk of player-injury spikes this year (based on past NFL data and recent findings from sports leagues that have already returned to play this year), the NFL is unwilling to prioritize player safety and believes that the virus will bend to football,” Tretter said.
The NFLPA is concerned not only with safety protocols related to the virus but also additional injuries that could occur as a result of the virtual offseason.
Tretter cited data from the 2011 work stoppage that saw an increase in injuries by 25%. Achilles injuries doubled and hamstring injuries jumped up by 44%.
“Players don’t just want to return to work; we want to stay at work,” Tretter said.