PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) – NFL players are publicly pleading with the league to address several health and safety concerns on the eve of training camp.
The league informed teams on Saturday that training camps will open on time even though discussions with the players’ union regarding testing for the coronavirus and other health and safety protocols are ongoing.READ MORE: Majority Of Penguins Players, Coaches Receive COVID-19 Vaccines At PPG Paints Arena Clinic
Rookies for Houston and Kansas City are set to report Monday and rookies for other teams are due on Tuesday. Players for all teams are scheduled to report by July 28.
Many prominent players, including several Steelers, expressed their thoughts in a social media blitz Sunday.
— Eric Ebron (@Ebron85) July 19, 2020
With more than 20 million Americans tapping into unemployment benefits, I’m thankful to have my job. However, everyone deserves a safe workplace. #WeWantToPlay
— Vince Williams (@VinnyVidiVici98) July 19, 2020
— James Conner (@JamesConner_) July 19, 2020
Despite the hashtag, #WeWantToPlay, the players are saying they want to make sure they are protected from the COVID-19 pandemic.READ MORE: Rep. Conor Lamb, Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick Tour Southern U.S. Border As Part Of Congressional Delegation
NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith and President JC Tretter addressed the union’s concerns in a 90-minute videoconference call with reporters on Friday.
They want players tested daily for the virus. A joint committee of doctors, trainers and strength coaches formed by the NFL and NFLPA recommended testing every other day.
Other outstanding issues include number of preseason games. The league has planned to cut the exhibition schedule from four games to two while the union wants none.
Players also wanted a 45-day acclimation period to help avoid injuries. The league asked them to report early but the union declined. Questions remain on protections for players who want to opt out of playing.
All 32 teams have sent the union their Infectious Disease Emergency Response that have been approved by joint infectious disease experts and NFL chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills, according to a person familiar with the details. The person, speaking to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because protocols haven’t been finalized, said the union has approved several and continues to review them.
On Friday, the league sent players and teams an Education Protocol for camp which requires clubs to distribute joint educational materials and to conduct educational sessions for players, staff and family members.
Under the collective bargaining agreement, the NFL has the right to impose report dates and teams can fine players who don’t report.
The NFLPA could file a grievance to argue the league isn’t providing a safe work environment under the labor deal.
The Steelers will report to the team’s facilities on July 21, quarterbacks and injured players on July 23, and the rest of the roster will report on July 28.MORE NEWS: Pittsburgh Weather: Foggy Start, Warmer Afternoon Temperatures
(TM and © Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)