Officially, NFL teams are just three weeks away from reporting to training camp.
But even if they do make it there on time, Cleveland Browns center JC Tretter is skeptical that the league currently possesses the proper protocols to keep the 2020 season on track.
In a letter published to the NFL Players Association website on Tuesday, Tretter -- who is the NFLPA president -- called for the NFL to prioritize health over football while making necessary adjustments amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. In a tweet sharing the letter, Tretter said that the NFL's aversion to adopting such measures could put the 2020 season in jeopardy.
"The NFLs unwillingness to follow the recommendations of its own experts will put this season and the safety of all players at risk," Tretter wrote. "This year must look differently if we hope to play a full season and crown a Super Bowl Champion."
In his letter, Tretter went on to reveal that while the NFL initially accepted and implemented safety suggestions from a Joint Committee, including the elimination of joint practices and fans at training camp, the league has been less willing to adopt other recommended measures. In particular, Tretter said the league has been reluctant to adopt a recommended 48-day Training Camp, which could help reduce a potential injury spike.
"Despite these experts’ assessment that teams face a serious risk of player-injury spikes this year (based on past NFL data and recent findings from sports leagues that have already returned to play this year), the NFL is unwilling to prioritize player safety and believes that the virus will bend to football," Tretter wrote.
Additionally, while negotiating the length of the preseason, Tretter said that the league was only able to provide a football reason -- evaluating players -- as to why it still wanted to play two exhibition games, as opposed to the standard four. Citing a lack of medical reasoning and following the Joint Committee's recommendation, the NFLPA Board of Player Representatives unanimously voted against playing any preseason games last week.
With larger issues looming, such as how the league would handle players who test positive for the coronavirus, Tretter expressed concern over players reporting to camp only to have the season eventually shutdown. At this point in the process, plenty remains unknown. What is certain according to Tretter, however, is that the NFLPA will continue to prioritize the health of its members.
"Every decision this year that prioritizes normalcy over innovation, custom over science or even football over health, significantly reduces our chances of completing the full season," he wrote.
"The NFLPA will do its part to advocate for player safety. We will continue to hold the NFL accountable and demand that the league use data, science and the recommendations of its own medical experts to make decisions. It has been clear for months that we need to find a way to fit football inside the world of coronavirus. Making decisions outside that lens is both dangerous and irresponsible."