Dozens of National Football League (NFL) players on Sunday requested the league address health concerns and follow expert guidelines ahead of training camps later this month.
Several NFL players took to Twitter, using the hashtag “#WeWantToPlay” to call out the league for its lack of preparation to return for the season this year amid the coronavirus pandemic. Among the participants in the Twitter campaign were Russell Wilson, J.C. Tretter, Drew Brees and J.J. Watt.
Rookies are scheduled to report to training camps on Tuesday, but the Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs rookies are scheduled to start on July 20, as they play the season opener.
J.C. Tretter, the president of the NFL Players Association, posted that the players were “standing up for each other … to keep everyone as safe as possible.”
“The NFL needs to listen to our union and adopt the experts’ recommendations,” Tretter, who plays center for the Cleveland Browns, posted accompanied with the hashtag “#wewanttoplay.”
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 #wewanttoplay— JC Tretter (@JCTretter) July 19, 2020
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson also expressed his concern, noting that his wife is pregnant.
“There’s still No Clear Plan on Player Health & Family Safety,” he posted. “We want to play football but we also want to protect our loved ones. #WeWantToPlay.”
I am concerned.— Russell Wilson (@DangeRussWilson) July 19, 2020
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. #WeWantToPlay
Anthony Hitchens, a linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs, joined the campaign, tweeting a photo of his family, along with the text: “If I get the virus at work and I unknowingly pass it to my wife and kids, will the @NFL cover medical cost?”
If I get the virus at work and I unknowingly pass it to my wife and kids, will the @NFL cover the medical cost? I can’t wait to get back out there and play ball but I also want to protect my family !!!! pic.twitter.com/1DH1Yg9f1D— Anthony Hitchens (@AnthonyHitchens) July 19, 2020
J.J. Watt, a defensive end for the Houston Texans, released a list of what players “know and don’t know” ahead of training. The unknowns include whether daily testing will occur, how a positive COVID-19 case will be handled or whether an opt-out clause for players who are at high risk or who have family members at high risk of serious illness from the virus.
Once again in the interest of keeping everyone (players & fans) as informed as possible, here is an updated list of what we as players know and don’t know as the first group gets set to report to training camp tomorrow.#WeWantToPlay pic.twitter.com/xQcjs33zgM— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) July 19, 2020
Several other players, including New Orleans Saints safety Malcom Jenkins, San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman and Houston Texas wide receiver Randall Cobb blasted the league for not following the recommendations of health experts that it hired.
It blows my mind that the NFL is unwilling to follow the recommendations of their own experts regarding player health and safety. If we want to have a FULL season this year we need the NFL to listen to their experts! #WeWantToPlay pic.twitter.com/q55RpqRzPu— Malcolm Jenkins (@MalcolmJenkins) July 19, 2020
The NFL has ignored the safety recommendations from the experts that THEY hired. We all love this game and want to go out and compete with our brothers. The NFL needs to provide a safe work environment for us to do that. #WeWantToPlay— Richard Sherman (@RSherman_25) July 19, 2020
The @NFL has disregarded the recommendations of their OWN health & safety committees. We have continued asking questions and have YET to receive any definitive answers. #WeWantToPlay but we also want to keep our families safe.— Randall Cobb (@rcobb18) July 19, 2020
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees also posted, saying, “If the NFL doesn’t do their part to keep players healthy there is no football in 2020. It’s that simple.”
We need Football! We need sports! We need hope! 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— Drew Brees (@drewbrees) July 19, 2020
As of Friday, 65 NFL players have a known positive test of COVID-19, according to the Players Association’s website.
The NFL schedule has quarterbacks and injured players returning Thursday, and all other players going to training on July 28. The Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs will follow a slightly different schedule.