The NFL is in the midst of questionable decisions as teams and players begin training camps this week. The Saints will undoubtedly have a voice.
Despite cases of coronavirus rising continuously, teams, including the New Orleans Saints, are planning to continue with particular safety measures in order to stay on schedule for the upcoming season.
Only one team, the Miami Dolphins made the initial decision to delay the arrival of rookies and other players to their training camp to Thursday considering the hotspot of new cases that have arisen in southern Florida.
While the league itself seems to have a set idea regarding how the league and players will conduct themselves to retain continuity during this pandemic, the players themselves have other plans if they don’t truly feel safe.
Over the past few days, players around the league, including multiple Saints such as Drew Brees, Malcolm Jenkins, and Cam Jordan, have been vocally opposed to the NFL’s decision to begin training camp this week.
The overall opposition has come under one umbrella as the #WeWantToPlay movement.
Granted, the NFL has made some significant decisions in order to accommodate the desires of their players such as removing all preseason games and potentially reducing the training camp roster to 80 rather than 90 but there is room for improvement still.
While these decisions do limit exposure for players among their own roster and in arguably unnecessary games, they are still put in danger during training camps and other situations. The lack of required equipment like face shields in masks and other potentially risk-reducing measures is leaving many players hesitant to participate at all.
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There are a multitude of veteran players nearing the end of their careers and undrafted free agents who are searching for a chance to prove themselves that understand the magnitude of making a stand to not play but they are doing so anyway.
NFL players may appear to be unstoppable gladiators when they take part in games; however, they are still vulnerable people with their own health issues and families at stake as well.
When considering the measures that other leagues like the NBA have taken to ensure the safety of their players in order to finish the season, it is not unreasonable to question why the players are pursuing more in terms of protection.
Currently, the NFL has planned such as testing players every day for the first few weeks and maintaining that program if the problem proves persistent and the usual social distancing measures for lockers and players.
However, question marks remain regarding desired accommodations such as an extended acclimation period for players and what were to happen should players choose to opt-out of the season voluntarily.
Those two unresolved situations alone could result in numerous players being at higher risk and without income for some time should the league not agree to support them with stipends.
In terms of economic necessity to support the league, making the decision to not suspend the league and to move forward with lesser precautions is the only viable move for owners.
However, ignoring recommendations from the employed health advisors and the pleas from their stars could result in a regression of the trust that the NFLPA and league have been working on building over time.
The players’ only major leverage at the moment is their star power but if the players feel unsafe then the worst-case scenario that might arise is a potential lockout. Of course, the Saints and players around the league want to play, but they want to play in a safe way to protect themselves, their families, and those they care for.
Is that too much to ask?