Cleveland Browns, New York Giants and Chicago Bears players became the latest to release statements regarding plans to skip in-person voluntary offseason workouts.
In an announcement sent by the NFL Players Association Thursday, Browns players stated they would be “exercising our [collective bargaining agreement] right to not attend in-person voluntary workouts this offseason,” while Bears players said “a majority of our locker room” will not participate in in-person voluntary workouts. The Giants followed, stating they “stand in solidarity with players across our league” and will not attend in-person workouts as a group.
Cleveland, of which NFLPA president JC Tretter is the starting center, made its announcement Thursday afternoon not long after the Bears’.
“The NFL’s memo outlining how they plan to implement voluntary workouts falls short of what we as players believe is adequate. The Cleveland Browns players agree that a virtual offseason, like we had last year, is the best decision for everyone in our league,” the Browns players’ statement read. “COVID-19 continues to affect our players, our families and our communities, and we must continue to take it seriously. In addition to the ongoing threat of the pandemic, we felt healthier both mentally and physically last year, which we attribute to sufficient recovery time and the lack of additional wear and tear on our bodies during the spring months. The league-wide injury data supports us as well, as NFL players experienced a 23% reduction in missed-time injuries last season.
“For these reasons, we stand in solidarity with players from other clubs by exercising our CBA right to not attend in-person voluntary workouts this offseason. We are professionals who train year-round, wherever we spend our offseason. As we proved last year, we will be ready to compete this upcoming season.”
The Bears players statement was similar to that of the Browns in its outline of concerns regarding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic still affecting players, along with their families and communities, though they specified it was a “majority of our locker room” that would skip voluntary workouts.
“COVID-19 remains a risk both to our team, our families and to our fellow NFL players,” the statement read. “We also saw the health and safety benefits of a fully virtual offseason, as injuries across the NFL were down last year. Players remain unclear about the protocols and protections, and rules remain inconsistent despite the last minute communication by the NFL yesterday. It is for these reasons that the majority of our locker room are choosing to exercise our right and not participate in in-person voluntary workouts in order to stay as safe as possible.”
The Giants players’ statement read that they were “a strong, unified brotherhood of professionals who love the game of football and work year-round to perfect our craft,” but “also have to make the best decisions to protect our health and safety, which is why players on our team are exercising our CBA right to not attend in-person voluntary workouts.”
The three announcements were the first since the NFL sent a memo to teams detailing plans for the offseason workout program Wednesday, which includes in-person workouts in phase two, which runs from May 17-May 21, and phase three, which runs from May 24 through June 18 mandatory minicamps.
There currently have been eight sets of players to issue a statement through the NFLPA regarding plans not to participate or not fully participate in in-person workouts.
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