Players Across Nation Say They Want to Play, Plan Players Association

Jake Curtis

While reports circulate that meetings among Power 5 conference commissioners will soon bring an end to college football this fall, a number of college players across the country, including Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, created and posted a joint statement Sunday saying they want to play the 2020 season while being ensured a safe and fair environment. Perhaps more important is that the players say they plan to form an association that sounds a lot like a union.

“Moving forward, what we really want to be able to create is a legitimate voice for the athletes in these major conferences,” Cal offensive lineman Valentino Daltoso told Sports Illustrated on Sunday.

CBS Sports, Sports Illustrated and ESPN as well as a number of other media outlets have reported this news of a push for national unity among college football players.

And it comes when the fall football season is in jeopardy. CBS Sports reported the Power 5 commissioners held a meeting Sunday and plan to hold another today (Monday). There has been speculation that the Big Ten might be the first to announce a cancellation or a postponement of the football season, perhaps to the spring, in the next few days. 

ESPN reported the majority of Big Ten presidents intend to vote to postpone the season. 

The Pac-12, whose recent decisions have paralleled those of the Big Ten, would likely follow suit quickly in declaring a similar postponement.

Jon Wilner of the Mercury News reports that the Pac-12 could vote to cancel the season as early as Tuesday, after a scheduled morning meeting involving the league's presidents and chancellors.

Cal Sports Report opined Sunday that there is virtually no chance college football will be played this fall.

It is under that evenvironment that a number of prominent players conducted a Zoom meeting and decided to make their voices heard, that they want to play this season and that they plan to unite further in the future.  A number of the players in this group are also members of the #WeAre United Pac-12 players group that is making demands of the Pac-12.

The national group, under the heading of #WeWantToPlay, issued its statement late Sunday evening through a three-post Twitter thread posted by about a dozen players. The statement asks for uniform health and safety protocols for dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and said they intend to form a college football players association at some point in the future.

They also noted that players should have the option to opt out of the 2020 season if they wish without losing a year of eligibility.  In fact, the players want to be granted another year of eligibility whether they play this season or not.

 "The beautiful thing is now we're all on the same page," said Stanford defensive lineman Dylan Boles told ESPN. "We made history tonight."

Acording to ESPN, players on the Zoom call that led to the statement included Lawrence, Boles, Clemson's Darien Rencher, Alabama running back  Najee Harris, Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields, Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard, Oregon's Penei Sewell, Johnny Johnson III, Jevon Holland and Kayvon Thibodeaux, Utah's Nick Ford, Washington State's Dallas Hobbs and Michigan's Hunter Reynolds. Harris is a Bay Area product who attended Antioch High School.

Daltosa is involved from Cal.

“I think everyone can agree the players need a legitimate voice in the way of creating some sort of college players‘ association,” Daltoso told SI. 

Bears offensive tackle Jake Curhan, one of the leaders of the Pac-12 players group, indicated his support for the national group's effort by posting it on Twtter:

President Trump also tweeted support for playing college football in 2020:

How the power conferences respond to the statement made by #WeWantToPlay remains to be seen, but CBS Sports reported that Arkansas athletic director Hunter Yuracheck showed support for the movement vis Twitter.

The reports that the Big Ten is planning to shut down fall football has led to some pushback, according to CBS Sports. Dr. Corey Teague, the father of Ohio State running back Master Teague, posted a note on Twitter representing parents of players who want to play the 2020 season.

Follow Jake Curtis of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jakecurtis53

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