Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

With Preseason Axed, Will the NFL Play at All?

The way things are going now? Who knows.
The way things are going now? Who knows.
Photo: Getty

The way things are playing out between the NFL and its players association mirrors negotiations between the MLB and its own union.

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First, it’s the health and safety protocol, now it’s the elimination of the preseason and questions about the length of the regular season. Later it will become a debate over pay, since stadium revenue is likely out of the picture.

In a report by NFL Network, the NFL Players Association and the league agreed Tuesday to a cancellation of all preseason games, another development piled onto an already interesting week between the league’s stars and leadership. On Sunday, there was a social media outcry from J.J. Watt, Richard Sherman, Pat Mahomes, and other stars regarding how health protocol will work — since we’re still in a pandemic.

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For training camp, daily health testing was agreed upon on Monday, according to a USA Today report. Testing will take place every day over the first two weeks of training camp. If the positive rate is less than 5% they will move to testing every other day, if it is higher than that testing will resume daily.

However, a new development has emerged.

According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, there is a “general agreement” for players to opt out of the season due to COVID-19 and the two parties are working on player compensation if regular season games are canceled. The two sides have agreed on who would qualify for opting out.

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Which tells me both sides are seeing a real possibility that the regular season might not be a full 16 games.

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Sigh.

Does this look like a similar situation between the MLB owners and its players association not even a month ago?

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Health protocol. And then length of season coupled with financial compensation.

Seems to be déjà vu.

The difference here is the NFL virtually had all of its offseason to plan most of these things out, so that preseason or regular season games wouldn’t be in jeopardy — or to scrap the entire season because ... you know, there’s still a pandemic going on.

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With the loss of the preseason, JC Tretter explained on the players association website what this means according to their CBA. A joint committee will now step in to implement a schedule — 10 days of non-padded practice and 10 days of padded practice.

“The NFL initially accepted and implemented the Joint Committee’s suggestions, including items like no joint practices and no fans at training camp. However, the NFL was unwilling to follow the Joint Committee’s recommendation of a 48-day training camp schedule.

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“Despite these experts’ assessment that teams face a serious risk of player-injury spikes this year (based on past NFL data and recent findings from sports leagues that have already returned to play this year), the NFL is unwilling to prioritize player safety and believes that the virus will bend to football.”

Looks to me like there maybe won’t be a full season. Especially with how slowly things seem to be coming together and also considering rookies reported to campus this week and none of these things seemed to be sorted out.

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Their season is starting and not one game seems to be set in stone. Veterans will report to camp next week, but with a baseline for opting out the season agreed upon by both sides, who will really be there? Especially when beyond the next month or so no permanent health protocol, salary resolution, or agreed-upon season length has come to light.

Buckle up, everyone we might be in for an ugly standoff and long waiting period before we see the first snap of the 2020 season. If there’s one at all.

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