Training camps around the NFL are scheduled to begin in less than two weeks. After weeks of deliberation with the league and players’ union, there has still yet to be a concrete plan accepted by both sides.
Players around the league voiced their disappointment Sunday morning to put pressure on the NFL to take steps to meet their safety and health concerns.
The social media blitz occurred at 11 a.m. when players began tweeting messages that echoed the same sentiments followed by the hashtag #WeWantToPlay, including several Minnesota Vikings stars.
“I just want to play football with my teammates but we need the @NFL to step up and create a safe work environment for us! #wewanttoplay,” Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks tweeted.
Kendricks, who is coming off an All-Pro season in 2019, is one of many players who have been impacted by COVID-19. Kendricks’ grandfather passed away after he was infected by the coronavirus and he was unable to see his grandfather and family due to the dangers of traveling at the time. He has been selling paintings in the offseason to help raise funds for coronavirus relief.
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Current & Former Vikings Chime In
Kendricks’ longtime partner at linebacker, four-time Pro Bowler Anthony Barr, posted the same message in solidarity of his teammate and all NFL players.
I want to play football and I know the fans want to watch football this year! For that to happen, we need the @NFL to step up and create a safe work environment for us players! #wewanttoplay pic.twitter.com/50oeWK5V33
— Anthony Barr (@AnthonyBarr) July 19, 2020
Safety Anthony Harris also joined in.
— Ant Harris (@HOOSDatDude) July 19, 2020
Ex-Vikings star wide receiver Stefon Diggs pointed to the NBA’s handling of the coronavirus and urged NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to do the same:
If # can respect the voices and protect his @ players why can’t @ do the same? Listen to your players. If we want to have a full season it will have to look different with OUR safety as the priority. @ make the necessary changes. #
Growing Divide Between Owners & Players
The response comes after the NFL owners had a conference call on Friday and released a statement that they will move ahead with the 2020 season:
NFL clubs met today via videoconference and received an update on preparations for the 2020 season. We will continue to implement the health and safety protocols developed jointly with the NFLPA, and based on the advice of leading medical experts, including review by the CDC. We will address additional issues in a cooperative way. All decisions will be made in an effort to put us in position to play a full regular season and postseason culminating with the Super Bowl which is the shared goal of the clubs and the players.
Former Vikings offensive lineman and ESPN radio host Geoff Schwartz explained that the NFL owners have not responded accordingly to players demands and face much less risk whether the season goes on or not
He tweeted the following:
Here’s the truth tho. And the NFL knows this. The players suffer much worse without a season than the owners do. The joint committee recommended a 48 day camp. Owners asked players to come in 2 weeks early. They said no. Now owners attempting to cram in camp w/2 preseason games.
I’m disappointed the league had months to figure out what to do. And of course they couldn’t. I had more faith in this process than I should have. Sad. Players should be protected the best that’s possible.
NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero said that on top of the ongoing dispute surrounding the preseason, both parties still have yet to reach a consensus on many protocols including opt-out language and testing frequency.
“Clubs are enforcing management rights by setting reporting dates; players must show up or face discipline. If there’s a grievance, it’d be over unsafe work environment, as players’ posts portend,” he added.
Trevor Squire is a Heavy contributor covering the Minnesota Vikings and journalism graduate from the University of Minnesota — Twin Cities. Connect with him on Twitter @trevordsquire and join our Vikings community at Heavy on Vikings on Facebook.