The NFLPA has a simple question for the NFL: if playing four preseason games this year is unsafe, then what is safe about playing two? This is the message broadcast by Don Davis, an executive of the Players Union, who spoke with WEEI last week concerning the status of the ongoing negotiations about a return to play.
As has been reported for some time now, the league is expected to announced that it will not be hosting four preseason games per team, though no official announcement has been made as of yet (as of the time of this writing). The only thing officially cancelled is the Hall of Fame game.
The league is expected to announce that the second and third preseason games will be played, still, with the first and fourth dropped to allow for a greater acclimation period both into the preseason from the start of training camp and then into the regular season from the end of offseason activities.
“When you go at a 10,000-square-foot level and you just look at what reason would say, then what you’re saying is, ‘four preseason games are not in the best health and safety of players based on COVID, but guess what? Good news, two are totally fine’”, Davis said
“That’s a tough position to take, right? The position of the PA isn’t, ‘have no preseason games’. That’s not the narrative at all. I know that’s out there. The position is, ‘can you tell us how playing four is problematic, but playing two is OK?’”.
There is a point here. if four preseason games is not safe, how much safer is two preseason games, or one preseason game? If the preseason is meaningless enough that it can be cut in half in the name of safety, then what prevents it from being so meaningless as to be canceled altogether?
This is perhaps the biggest reason that there has been no announcement yet, even as protocol documents are being leaked that pertain to procedures that would be in place in the event that preseason games are played.
It has been intimated that the NFLPA may negotiate the preseason in exchange for other objectives. For example, the NFL reportedly wants to get every other day, while the union is in favor of testing every day. Could this be exchanged for two preseason games?
There is some debate as to whether or not the NFL even needs the NFLPA’s consent to play two preseason games. On the strict language of the CBA, perhaps they do not, but these are extraordinary times that require understanding and cooperation.