#childsafety | Players plead with NFL to address health, safety concerns over coronavirus

TAMPA — So far, nobody has quoted President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

© Ivy Ceballo/Times/Tampa Bay Times/TNS
Raymond James Stadium is scheduled to host this season’s Super Bowl in February.

In a coordinated social media campaign Sunday, NFL players ripped the league for its lack of a coherent plan to open training camps and begin the season amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Rookies for the Texans and Chiefs are set to report Monday, and rookies for the Bucs and the other teams are scheduled to report Tuesday. All veterans are due to follow for training camp, scheduled to open July 28.

The NFL informed teams Saturday that training camps will open on time.

High-profile stars including Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt, Saints quarterback Drew Brees and Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson took to social media Sunday to say that the proper precautions have not been put into place to make playing safe. Many of the posts had the hashtag #WeWantToPlay.

“We need Football! We need sports! We need hope!‘’ Brees wrote on Twitter. “The NFL’s unwillingness to follow the recommendations of their own medical experts will prevent that. If the NFL doesn’t do their part to keep players healthy there is no football in 2020. It’s that simple. Get it done @NFL.”

Wilson said there is no clear plan for how to keep players and their families safe.

“I am concerned,‘’ Wilson tweeted. “My wife is pregnant. NFL training camp is about to start. And there’s still No Clear Plan on Player Health & Family Safety. We want to play football but we also want to protect our loved ones.”

Watt provided a list of what he said players know and don’t know with training-camp reporting almost here.

Joining those players was Bucs left tackle Donovan Smith, who previously aired his concerns in a July 10 said Instagram post, saying that trying to do his job amid the coronavirus pandemic doesn’t seem like “a risk worth taking,” especially with his first child due in a couple of weeks.

On Sunday, Smith on Twitter retweeted several players’ posts with their concerns and weighed in himself with, “Glad to see everyone speaking up now!”

Bucs quarterback Tom Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski have not weighed in.

Brady and more than a dozen teammates ignored a plea by the NFL Players Association to stop offseason practices together at Berkeley Prep. The union worried the practices may contribute to the spread of COVID-19 and hamper their negotiations with the league over protections for the season.

Brady not only ignored the plea, he went a step further by quoting FDR in an Instagram post, saying “Only thing we have to fear is fear itself.‘’

In a statement indicating it will begin the season on time, the NFL said it will “continue to implement the health and safety protocols developed jointly with the (union), and based on the advice of leading medical experts, including review by the (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). We will address additional issues in a cooperative way. All decisions will be made in an effort to put us in position to play a full regular season and postseason culminating with the Super Bowl, which is the shared goal of the clubs and the players.”

The Super Bowl is scheduled to be played at Raymond James Stadium in February.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.


©2020 the Tampa Bay Times (St. Petersburg, Fla.)

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