Like in 2020, professional football players have said they plan to skip voluntary in-person work this spring out of COVID-19 concerns, reported The Athletic. NFL Players Association has said the union would like the entire offseason program to be virtual.
The NFL’s nine-week, three phase, offseason program beginning on April 19, includes approximately a month of virtual meetings, followed by five weeks of limited in-person on-field practices. The on-field practices are broken down into 10 voluntary practices with an additional 3 day mandatory minicamp, according to The Hill.
The Seattle Seahawks, Denver Broncos, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New England Patriots and Detroit Lions have recently stated that they will not participate in organized team activities ‘OTA’ programs because of COVID-19 risks.
“We find ourselves still in the midst of a pandemic with no comprehensive plan to keep players as safe as possible, yet teams are pressuring players to attend voluntary workouts," that begin next week, said DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFL Players Association.
“The union has advised players that given the continued risk of exposure and the goal of a full 2021 NFL season, that they should not attend these voluntary workouts,” Smith added. “It is every player’s decision, but our advice is to continue to use an abundance of caution given the current environment,” reported newsobserver.com.
NFL Players Association president J.C. Tretter agreed and added that the grueling offseason programs were unnecessary.
COVID-19 tests will be given daily and social distancing and mask protocols which are meant to increase player safety will continue.
The NFL has also requested that team staff personnel voluntarily get vaccinated in order to work in team facilities, reported the Hill.
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