While the NFL yesterday issued a memo to teams about the protocols for players to return to team facilities, it evidently did so without the knowledge or consent of the NFLPA, which is certainly not the first time that such a thing like this has happened between these two agencies.
“Some of you have been contacted by your clubs about coming back into the facility to workout, or rehab, citing a memo from the NFL”, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk quotes a memo from the NFLPA. “We write to inform you that we do NOT have an agreement to allow additional players to come back into the facilities at this point, and the League’s memo was sent to Clubs without the approval of your union”.
J.C. Tretter, the newly-elected union president, issued a similar statement yesterday in a Tweet. “A reminder to be wary of any updates or information about returning to work from the league or your team”, he writes. “Contact me, your rep, or your player director to receive accurate updates as we push for the safest possible return to work”.
This should serve as a reminder that the process of players returning to the field surrounding this matter is a two-way street. The league has to be comfortable with how this process unfolds—but so too do the actual people who have to take the field and throw their bodies into other bodies, thereby greatly increasing the potential risk of transmission through the exchange of bodily fluids, i.e. sweat.
We are seeing this same process playing out in the other major leagues, in fact, dramatically more so, because their return-to-play date is far sooner than the NFL’s, given that they have been in their offseason since the pandemic occurred.
The MLB in particular has been a testy affair. I believe the league’s proposal in that instance is to conduct a 76-game season at 75 percent pay, but at that rate only if they are able to get in a complete postseason in the event of a second wave this Fall of the coronavirus.
While the MLB’s negotiations have been the most tense, the back and forth within the NBA and NHL and their respective player representation haven’t been a walk in the park, either. Even though it should be somewhat simpler for the NFL, we shouldn’t expect a breezy process.
Currently, the only players who are allowed access to team facilities are those who are undergoing injury treatments. For the Pittsburgh Steelers, newcomer Eric Ebron has been one of them. But all that means is that he can see the medical staff and they can work on his ankle.