Demaurice Smith, head of the NFL Players Association, isn't a happy camper right now. Even though the NFLPA released a statement recently that warned players not to workout as coronavirus cases spiked throughout the country, NFL players are continuing to train together in preparation for the season.
In an interview with USA Today, Smith voiced his disappointment with Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady and Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson continuing to host workout sessions. "They're not in the best interest of protecting our players heading into training camp, and I don't think they are in the best interest of us getting through an entire season," Smith said.
Part of the reason why this is so upsetting to Smith, beyond the health implications, is because the NFLPA and NFL are still negotiating exactly what happens if a player gets sick during the season. There are too many questions that need to be hammered out before training camp opens in less than four weeks.
"I certainly understand how competitive our players are, and I get that," Smith said in his interview with USA Today. "But at the same time, we are in the process of trying to negotiate ... we have to negotiate with the league about what happens to a player if they test positive during the season. Does that player go on injured reserve? Do they go on short-term IR? If you test positive for the virus after training camp, is that a work-related injury? Are you covered under workers' comp? What benefits are available to you if you have downstream injuries from contracting COVID-19?
"All of the things that players may want to do during the offseason have a direct impact on how well we can negotiate protections for them once the season starts. We sent out the guidance because we think that was in their best health and safety interests. Let's just say for some of the players who have practiced, we've made sure that they've heard the message."
The Hall of Fame Game has already been canceled and there's doubt over exactly how much of the preseason will be played. For the time being, players should probably heed Smith's warning and follow guidelines.
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