Players on 5 more NFL teams say no to in-person work

Sports

FILE – In this Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020 file photo, Cleveland Browns center JC Tretter stands on the field during an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles in Cleveland. NFL players were locked out of team headquarters last offseason because of the coronavirus pandemic. This year, their union wants them to boycott any in-person OTAs. Last year, teams were forced to do everything online until training camps opened in August, and NFL Players Association president J.C. Tretter has been advocating for a repeat of last year’s offseason, arguing that the adjustments caused by the coronavirus showed the arduous offseason programs were unnecessary.(AP Photo/David Richard, File)

Players on five more NFL teams will be skipping in-person voluntary workouts because of the pandemic: the Los Angeles Rams and Chargers, the Atlanta Falcons, Miami Dolphins and San Francisco 49ers.

The players posted through their union that they are joining 11 other groups who previously said they would not be on hand for the sessions.

This weekend players from the other 16 clubs are expected to announce plans. The offseason sessions begin Monday, and on Wednesday the league sent a memo to all 32 teams saying the first four weeks of the voluntary program will be virtual. The plan is to then transition to in-person work at team facilities.

Last year, the offseason programs were all done virtually and training camp was pushed back because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Saying no to in-person workouts earlier this week were players from the Super Bowl champion Buccaneers, Broncos, Seahawks, Giants, Bears, Raiders, Lions, Browns, Steelers and Patriots. The Jets said “many” of their players would skip them.

The 49ers issued a similar statement Saturday, saying “many in our locker room have chosen not to attend some or all phases of the voluntary in-person workouts” because of concerns about COVID-19.

Following the lead of Browns center JC Tretter, the NFL Players Association’s president, the Dolphins noted they would “stand in solidarity with players across the league who are making informed decisions to exercise their right to not attend voluntary in-person workouts this offseason.”

Added the Chargers: “We had a virtual offseason last year that protected us and our families from a pandemic, but also showed beneficial to our overall health and safety.”

Late last month, Tretter issued a strong statement on the NFLPA website calling for the elimination of such things as organized team activities and minicamps.

“The good news for our sport is that while the NFL season looked and felt noticeably different from previous years,” he wrote, “we learned that the game of football did not suffer at the expense of protecting its players more than ever before.

“Our process is to follow the science on what is safest for our guys, and many of the changes this past year — like no in-person offseason workouts/practices, the extended acclimation period before training camp and no preseason games — gave us a year of data that demonstrates maintaining some of these changes long term is in the best interest of the game.”

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