The NFLPA does not want players to train with their teammates as the number of coronaviruses increases across the country, but some prominent players are not listening. In the days after the NFLPA advised players to stop training together, Tom Brady, Matthew Stafford and Russell Wilson have challenged that recommendation.
NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith is not happy about that. Smith, 56, reiterated the NFLPA’s position on USA Today and said, “Those practices are not in the best interest of the safety of the players.”
Smith said he understood why the players wanted to continue working with their teammates, but said those practices are putting the season at risk. Smith also explained how those trainings could negatively affect the union. By exercising now, players make it more difficult for the union to do its job.
“If it’s positive for the virus after training camp, it’s a work-related injury,” Smith asked. “Are you covered by workers’ compensation? What benefits are available to you in the event of subsequent injuries by contacting COVID-19?
“All the things 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.”
Smith added that all players who have practiced following the NFLPA recommendation have “heard the message.”
It is unclear whether the union or the league will do much to stop those trainings. The league has not issued sanctions for players who participate in practice, and the union is not going to punish members.
But if the NFL season is delayed because the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or Seattle Seahawks tested positive in the coming weeks, the players, and fans, will know who is to blame.