Panthers, other NFL players want coronavirus answers before they start training camp

Panthers, other NFL players want coronavirus answers before they start training camp
Panthers, other NFL players want coronavirus answers before they start training camp (Source: Charlotte Observer)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Charlotte Observer) - A number of NFL players, including some Carolina Panthers, are speaking out on social media, asking that the NFL address the NFL Players Association’s health and safety concerns before they take the field.

Among those Panthers players speaking out were defensive back Donte Jackson and running back Mike Davis.

With training camp set to start on July 28, the NFL and the NFLPA have not yet come to an agreement on health and safety protocols in wake of the novel coronavirus.

While training camp for the Panthers veterans begins on July 28, rookies report on July 21 and injured players and quarterbacks return on July 23.

The NFLPA is requesting daily COVID-19 testing, the elimination of this year’s preseason, and an acclimation period to get players’ bodies ready.

“Love to see the players come to together and we all on the same page. We want safety for everyone and there family #WeWanttoPlay,” Davis tweeted Sunday.

“Keep Us Safe! #WeWantToPlay,” Jackson tweeted, while retweeting a number of other prominent players speaking out.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, Houston Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt, New Orleans Saints players Drew Brees and Michael Thomas, and Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes all voiced concerns.

“We need Football! We need sports! We need hope!” Brees wrote. “The NFL’s unwillingness to follow the recommendations of their own medical experts will prevent that. If the NFL doesn’t do their part to keep players healthy there is no football in 2020. It’s that simple. Get it done @NFL.”

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson said he is concerned because his wife, Ciara, is pregnant.

He wrote: “My wife is pregnant. @NFL Training camp is about to start.. And there’s still No Clear Plan on Player Health & Family Safety. ???? We want to play football but we also want to protect our loved ones. (hashtag)WeWantToPlay.”

NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith and President JC Tretter addressed the union’s concerns in a 90-minute videoconference call with reporters on Friday.

They want players tested daily for the virus. A joint committee of doctors, trainers and strength coaches formed by the NFL and NFLPA recommended testing every other day.

All 32 teams have sent the union their Infectious Disease Emergency Response that have been approved by joint infectious disease experts and NFL chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills, according to a person familiar with the details. The person, speaking to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because protocols haven’t been finalized, said the union has approved several and continues to review them.

On Friday, the league sent players and teams an Education Protocol for camp which requires clubs to distribute joint educational materials and to conduct educational sessions for players, staff and family members.

Tretter, a center for the Browns, wrote: “What you are seeing today is our guys standing up for each other and for the work their union leadership has done to keep everyone as safe as possible. The NFL needs to listen to our union and adopt the experts’ recommendations (hashtag)wewanttoplay.”

Under the collective bargaining agreement, the NFL has the right to impose report dates and teams can fine players who don’t report.

The NFLPA could file a grievance to argue the league isn’t providing a safe work environment under the labor deal.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report