By: Sean McGeown, @seanpmcgeown
The NFL season is near, with teams expected to report to camp within the next week (majority of teams reporting by July 28th), and some players reporting to their respective camps as early as 7/20. With this, there seems to still be a lot of haziness surrounding the procedure the NFL is taking to open up camps and start the season while the country is dealing with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. On Sunday 7/19, players from around the league took to Twitter and spoke out about their displeasure with the vagueness with which the NFL is handling the reopening of camp. Among them were players from the Pittsburgh Steelers including James Conner, Eric Ebron, Mike Hilton, and Vince Williams.
Most of the tweets from players were followed with #WeWantToPlay:
— James Conner (@JamesConner_) July 19, 2020
With more than 20 million Americans tapping into unemployment benefits, I’m thankful to have my job. However, everyone deserves a safe workplace. #WeWantToPlay
— Vince Williams (@VinnyVidiVici98) July 19, 2020
— Eric Ebron (@Ebron85) July 19, 2020
Health and Safety is most important! We need answers…..#WeWantToPlay
— Mike Hilton (@MikeHilton_28) July 19, 2020
Once again in the interest of keeping everyone (players & fans) as informed as possible, here is an updated list of what we as players know and don’t know as the first group gets set to report to training camp tomorrow.#WeWantToPlay pic.twitter.com/xQcjs33zgM
— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) July 19, 2020
It’s a shame that the @nfl doesn’t care about doing their part to keep players healthy and safe. They need to make sure football can come back the right way. We have to look out for ourselves as well as our families. #WeWantToPlay
— AD_99 (@AaronDonald97) July 19, 2020
— Darius Slay (@bigplay24slay) July 19, 2020
I am concerned.
My wife is pregnant.@NFL Training camp is about to start..
And there’s still No Clear Plan on Player Health & Family Safety. ????????
We want to play football but we also want to protect our loved ones. #WeWantToPlay
— Russell Wilson (@DangeRussWilson) July 19, 2020
These are just a few examples of the league’s players coming together and expressing their worry for not only their safety, but their families as well. A completely understandable sentiment, as we are in the midst of a pandemic that can infiltrate and spread throughout our homes and communities in the blink of an eye.
JJ Watt’s tweet hit home on a lot of the issues that players are worried about; player safety, what testing policy will look like, what to do regarding positive tests, and giving the players enough acclimation time. Another concern echoed is what would happen if a game had to be delayed or cancelled. The players want these answers to ensure there is a season for them to play and compete in.
The clock is now ticking for the NFL. It has had months to prepare for this, unlike other major sport leagues like the NBA, MLB, and NHL, which are now all currently re-opening without fans after closing down mid-season (preseason in MLB’s case). The league needs to provide clarity for its employees so that they can get back to it and collectively work towards performing at the highest level. After all, they did say they do want to play. Now it’s the NFL’s turn to show they want them to play too.