WASHINGTON – NFL Players Association president J.C. Tretter issued a COVID-19 warning to his fellow players Tuesday as talks continued with the league on a safety plan for the 2020 campaign.
"We are not invincible," Tretter, a Cleveland Browns center, said in an open letter on the union website. "And as recent reports have shown, we certainly aren't immune to this virus."
Multiple players for the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans have tested positive for coronavirus as well as Denver defensive end Von Miller and Los Angeles Rams center Brian Allen.
"Underlying conditions like high BMI (body mass index), asthma and sleep apnea are all associated with a higher risk of developing severe symptoms and complications when infected with COVID-19," Tretter said. "Those conditions are widespread across the league.
"Trust me: we want to play football. But as a union, our most important job is keep our players safe and alive. The NFLPA will fight for our most at-risk players and their families."
The NFL plans to stage a full season starting Sept. 10 when the Texans visit the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs.
But Tretter warned players to be patient with the process as talks continue with plans for NFL training camps to open around July 28.
"We have to be patient with the process so that we can make sure you and your families receive every necessary protection," Tretter said.
He also cautioned players against rushing to accept a deal on any terms.
"The shaming of players (workers) to take less compensation will only further line the billionaire owners' pockets," Tretter said.
"It is the responsibility of the employer to provide a safe work environment… More so than any other sport, the game of football is the perfect storm for virus transmission.
"There are protections, both short and long term, that must be agreed upon before we can safely return to work. The NFLPA will be diligent as we demand that the NFL provide us the safest workplace possible."