Updated: Apr 11
(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network reported last night that NFLPA President JC Tretter told players on a call Friday that the union is pushing for an all-virtual offseason -- and would urge players to boycott if teams conduct in-person OTAs this spring. Per Pelissero, Tretter said, “We’ve been telling them, it’s voluntary and we’re not gonna go.”
In response to discussions between the NFL and NFLPA on in-person OTAs this spring, Steelers defensive tackle Cam Heyward, who is the team’s union representative, posted a series of tweets last night against in-person workouts this offseason.
Heyward started his thread by saying, "Can we all agree we love football?"
Heyward would elaborate with the following on why OTAs should be held like last year, which was all virtual. Heyward tagged both the NFL and NFLPA accounts in his thread.
“More meetings go by but still no definite answers behind the @NFL stance to make players come in for off-season workouts. I get training which we all did last year virtually but why the rush to jump to in-person meetings and workouts when 1. Less injuries occurred across the league 2. No plan to mitigate or control while WE are still in a pandemic. Work should continue to work virtually & craft as we still do not have all answers. If ALL teams can’t have the same safe guidelines why would you argue against it.
“Trust me everyone we will still get your games but why risk it??? Don’t you want your star players ready for week 1? If he can throw in the backyard he will throw on sundays too. For the ROOKIES and FREE AGENTS find your vets tell them to get you up to speed. Trust me y’all ain’t missing anything you will still get your chance to show your talent in camp when it really matters. It’s all VOLUNTARY but fellas don’t let them FEAR you in to showing up.
“All I’m saying is OUR SAFETY and HEALTH should be at the top of the line.”
Vaccines are being distributed daily and millions of people have already been vaccinated, but the pandemic is still ongoing, as Heyward mentions. The NFL will have to think this out thoroughly on what's best for the players, as rushing back is just not worth it for a couple of weeks of football in shorts.
Pelissero says only about 300 of 2,500 players have workout bonuses they’d lose if they skip OTAs. Under the CBA, the lone mandatory work prior to training camp is a June minicamp, which the union also wants to be virtual this year amidst the ongoing pandemic. Talks with owners continue.