- NFL training camps are still scheduled to open on time despite disagreement between players and the league on safety protocol and economic issues.
- Full camp begins for 30 teams on July 20 with the Chiefs and Texans opening on July 25.
- Players are expected to take a coronavirus test 48 hours before camp opens.
There are still significant differences to hammer out between the NFL and the players’ union but both sides pledge to approach them in a cooperative manner. Based on that, the plan remains to open NFL training camp on time. Full camp begins for 30 teams on July 20 with the Chiefs and Texans opening on July 25. Late in the week there was a conference call between the NFL offices and all 32 teams, a call between players and team physicians and a Players Association press conference.
The NFL released this statement on Friday:
“NFL clubs met today via videoconference and received an update on preparations for the 2020 season,” the league said in a statement Friday. “We will continue to implement the health and safety protocols developed jointly with the NFLPA, and based on the advice of leading medical experts, including review by the CDC.”
”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.”
Players that don’t report to camp are subject to team fines though the union can file a grievance if there isn’t a formal agreement on protocol before camp begins. In addition, the NFLPA has the option to file a complaint that the league has failed to create a safe work environment for players.
Not surprisingly, the biggest issues at this juncture appear to be financial. There will clearly be a significant revenue hit this season and that translates to a lower salary cap going forward. This is reportedly the biggest area of contention between players and owners. Players want the hit to be spread over several seasons while owners would prefer to take a bigger one time hit.
There looks to be more agreement on health and safety issues. The league and players union worked out an agreement on travel related protocol and generally speaking the two sides are reasonably close on training camp health issues.
Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Maxx Crosby talked about the ongoing negotiations in an interview with the Las Vegas Review Journal:
“There are a lot of blurry lines trying to be crossed and I’s trying to be dotted. It’s not easy. Obviously, everyone wants to play. That’s the main goal. And to do it in a safe way.No one really knows all the details (of the negotiations) right now, but we will find out soon and hopefully we can come to an agreement and figure out and how to get football back.”
NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith spoke to the media about union leadership’s discussion with a group of team physicians:
“The doctors last night said, with a couple of reservations, that it was safe to open training camp. They provided their medical reasons. The league has made the decision that they want to start training camp on time. The role of the union is to hold them accountable on how to make sure it’s safe.”
In addition, Smith emphasized the importance of the public wearing a mask as the most significant way to facilitate the return of sports in the United States:
“Wearing a mask will probably be the most significant component of whether sports return in this country. That’s not a political statement; that’s a common-sense and scientific statement. Nothing will bring fans back to our stadiums faster than the simple decision across the country to wear a mask.”
Another major issue that needs to be worked out involves the number of preseason games. The league has already cut two games from the preseason schedule but players would like to eliminate the exhibition contests completely.