The NFL is prepared to cancel all preseason games in exchange for expanding the no-hitting “acclimation” period at training camp from seven days to 18 days, multiple media outlets reported Monday.
The NFL Players Association did not immediately accept the proposal, according to multiple reports.
The new came hours after the league and the union did reach an agreement on another matter: Players will undergo daily COVID-19 tests for at least the first two weeks of training camp.
The NFLPA demanded the testing protocol as part of a push for player safety as a priority with teams reporting to training camp. Rookies for the Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs began arriving at camp on Monday.
Most teams require rookies, and in some cases quarterbacks, to report days before veterans. The two-week testing window applies to the start of training camp regardless of varied reporting dates by team.
The NFLPA said in a statement, “Our union has been pushing for the strongest testing and tracing protocols to keep our players safe. The testing protocols we agreed to are one critical factor that will help us return to work safely and gives us the best chance to play and finish the season.”
Talks continue between the union and the NFL in an attempt to iron out other issues, some of which have been contentious.
If positives fall below the 5 percent threshold for players and coaches following the two-week period, testing will shift to every other day. However, if at any point the positivity rate exceeds 5 percent, daily testing would resume.
“This is ongoing work,” Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer, said of the testing agreement. “There’s no finish line with health and safety, and I think these protocol are living, breathing documents, which means they will change as we get new information. They will undoubtedly be changing over time, which is what we usually see in medicine.”
Sills said in June that “public health adjustments” would be needed and expected as the season gets underway. The NFL’s plan is for the season to begin as scheduled on Sept. 10, with concessions being made for a shortened preseason that could include just one game per team.
Last week, Sills said he “absolutely expects” widespread positive tests in training camp.
Players collectively posted their push for the NFL to focus on player safety, underscoring their desire to play this season, on Sunday.
Drew Brees, J.J. Watt, Patrick Mahomes and Russell Wilson all posted similar messages with the hashtag #WeWantToPlay.
“What you are seeing today is our guys standing up for each other and for the work their union leadership has done to keep everyone as safe as possible,” NFL Players Association president J.C. Tretter posted on Twitter. “The NFL needs to listen to our union and adopt the experts’ recommendations.”
In a memo sent to teams on Saturday, the league said camps would open as scheduled. Rookies are to report on Tuesday, quarterbacks and injured players are to report two days later, and all other players are to report on July 28.
--Field Level Media
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