Under the constrained and complicated circumstances due to the coronavirus pandemic, the NFL is currently planning to open training camp on July 28th, and some players have already expressed concerns over the handling of their safety and money.
Former Jacksonville Jaguars defensive tackle Malik Jackson, now with the Philadelphia Eagles, took to Instagram yesterday to express his concerns over the handling safety and financial guarantee for players.
Former #Jaguars, current #Eagles DT Malik Jackson speaks on the NFL Owners handle of and presumed start of TC in the NFL on July 28th w/o any “safety/financial guarantee”:— Demetrius Harvey (@Demetrius82) July 9, 2020
“Today is July 8 and we have no answers to simple questions we’ve been asking since this pandemic started.” pic.twitter.com/xjxmC8lrrc
“It is unacceptable and utterly disrespectful for the owners to have set a camp start date of July 28, 2020 with no safety/financial guarantee agreed upon for us as players, the backbone of this industry,” said Jackson, tagging both the NFL and NFLPA in his post. “Today is July 8 and we have no answers to simple questions we’ve been asking since this pandemic started. We (players) are sons, fathers & brothers wanting to protect our families during this unprecedented time.
“As Pro-athletes we are willing and able [to] juggle. Juggle the risk that our careers bring, the stress of the game on our minds and bodies and most important making sure we don’t neglect our families. Now, you want us to weigh putting food on the table the best way we know how which we could potentially [catch] the killer virus and bring it home or stave.”
One of the many issues that have arisen from the pandemic and the league’s response, besides safety, has been the apparent lack of communication by the league to the players.
Former Jaguars wide receiver, Allen Robinson II, currently on the Chicago Bears, did not appear to know about the league’s proposed two-game preseason prior to it being reported on July 1st, for example. Robinson also expressed frustration for the league’s idea regarding player-limit participation, reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter as potentially limiting training camp rosters to 80-75 players.
This is thought to be potential move towards better safety protocols, limiting the possibility for players to be infected. Jackson also commented on the practicality of holding training camp given the close proximity he and his teammates will inevitably have with each other.
“I can not pass rush from 6 feed away, I cannot defeat a double team from 6 feet away nor can I tackle someone from 6 feet away (to not do those things in practice, just in games is asinine),” Jackson stated. “This sport is not in any way able to be played 6 feet away, let alone stop the transfer of sweat and blood.
“Respectfully, every owner is over 40 and understandable [sic] will probably not be out there with us on the field nor in the building. I ask in this moment you see us as people not financial burdens or roster spots. Health is wealth for both parties.”
Due to the potential for a fan-free season, all 32 teams will likely lose money. The Baltimore Ravens have already deferred season tickets to the 2021 season, and have discussed limiting the capacity of their 71,000-seat stadium, M&T Bank Stadium, to potentially under 14,000 due to fan safety prototypical.
Reported by NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the NFLPA informed its board of representatives that the NFL “proposed 35% of player salaries be held in escrow to help manage costs during the 2020 season.” Pelissero stated that it is one option if revenue is impacted league-wide due to COVID-19.
This, of course, was met with much push back by players all around the league.
Thus far, the league has not made it completely clear how it will tackle this upcoming season, and it is clear that the players have not felt they’ve been adequately informed either. While these are absolutely uncertain and unprecedented times throughout the globe, not having the trust of its players could end negatively for the league and its owners in the long run.