NFLPA Requires Agents to Educate Clients on COVID-19 Risks Before Camp
Jason B. Hirschhorn
With NFL training camps set to begin in late July, players across the country have conducted private group workouts with teammates during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic despite warnings from local health officials and the NFLPA. That includes several members of the Los Angeles Chargers, who have publicized their workouts on social media over the past month.
To combat this trend, the NFLPA sent a memo to all certified player representatives directing them to inform their clients of the health risk involved with hosting group workouts during the pandemic.
"To that end, the NFLPA is directing you to provide each of your clients with important risk factor information provided by the Centers for Disease Control that appears below, and by mid-July, you must engage each of your clients in a conversation about the vital importance of carefully reviewing this information with their personal physician," the memo read. "They should ask their personal doctors any and all questions they have regarding these risk factors in light of their personal medical history and their job as an NFL player. They should also discuss any risk factors with their team doctor."
In addition to the memo, NFLPA president JC Tretter wrote a detailed open letter describing the challenges and misconceptions facing football players during the coming months. In particular, Tretter takes aim at the notion that the union's constituents should throw caution to the wind or take less in order to facilitate a season.
"We are not invincible, and as recent reports have shown, we certainly aren't immune to this virus," Tretter wrote. "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 keeping our players safe and alive. The NFLPA will fight for our most at-risk players and their families."
Between the memo and letter, the NFLPA's position becomes clear: The league's plans for training camp will have to involve input and agreement from the union. The NFL certainly holds plenty of leverage in regard to the situation, but it cannot unilaterally decide when and how the season will unfold.
-- Jason B. Hirschhorn is an award-winning sports journalist and Pro Football Writers of America member. Follow him on Twitter: @by_JBH