The NFL announced all camps can open this coming week, but the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) seeks assurance of safe conditions and daily COVID-19 testing for players.
Giants Coaches Arrive on Friday, July 17, 2020
What does this mean for Giants Training Camp under new Head Coach Joe Judge? For the most part, good news! The NFL announced that rookies can report Tuesday, July 21st. Quarterbacks can return on Thursday, July 23rd.
The full team can begin camp on July 28th. The Giants coaching staff returned to Quest Diagnostics Center yesterday, July 17th, and began the return to work check-in process with COVID-19 tests. They plan to be tested regularly throughout camp.
New Jersey Travel Exemption in Place for Giants and Opponents
On July 10th, New Jersey Governor Murphy gave the Giants and Jets an exemption which allows the coaching staffs, players and team personnel to return to team facilities without a 14-day quarantine, terming it “business travel”. This exemption would also apply to visiting teams coming into New Jersey for games.
This is all good news for Giants fans, right? Well, let’s pump the breaks a little bit…
NFL Players Excited but Cautious
On June 21st, the NFL directed all teams to develop Infectious Disease Emergency Response (IDER) plans as a stipulation of opening camps. While there is no statement by teams or the league that all organizations are in compliance, the NFLPA and some star players (J.J. Watt being the most vocal) have said that the players need to see and approve the IDERs.
Only, July 17th did some teams begin sending their IDER plans to the NFLPA for review.
On July 17th, The NFLPA held a conference call with the media to discuss various concerns with the plan to play football in 2020. Per the new CBA, the NFL is well within its rights to set dates and open camps. The NFLPA has spent significant time speaking with most team doctors to get assurances that camps are safe to open for players. With the recent significant increase in COVID-19 outbreaks, it’s natural to be increasingly concerned the virus can be contained with players arriving from all corners of the USA.
NFL Proposes “Opt-Out” for Players
The NFLPA wants assurances that players can opt-out of the season if, in an individual player’s case, the risks are too great. Of course, they are hoping for player compensation to remain intact. In response, the NFL has proposed an “all or nothing” opt-out for players with a deadline to make that decision by August 1, 2020. This is why the players need to see the IDER for their team before they make such a decision.
The proposal states those players who have pre-existing conditions can decide to sit out along with players who have family members with pre-existing conditions. The plan also allows players who have general concerns about COVID-19 to opt-out. Basically, any player can choose to opt-out.
For the Giants, the only player to express concern so far is Nate Solder. For those that remember, Nate’s son is in the high-risk category due to his pre-existing conditions.
On July 10th, Nate tweeted his concern for player safety.
If the NFL doesn’t do their part to keep players healthy there is no football in 2020. It’s that simple.— Nate Solder (@soldernate) July 10, 2020
Unanswered, Practical Football Questions
NFLPA President, J.C. Tretter, a Center for the Cleveland Browns, also has taken to Twitter and the media with his concerns.
On July 7th, Tretter tweeted this concern.
The NFLs unwillingness to follow the recommendations of its own experts will put this season and the safety of all players at risk. This year must look differently if we hope to play a full season and crown a Super Bowl Champion. Read: https://t.co/lp7vFYFFjN— JC Tretter (@JCTretter) July 7, 2020
On the NFLPA conference call on July 17th, Tretter brought up a key point that hasn’t been debated by the NFL and the players yet. He said, as a center, he is in close contact with every player in the offensive huddle and every defensive lineman during practice. If he tests positive, how would the league determine how many people to quarantine, and for how long?
Even before camps open, the NFLPA reported on July 16th that 72 NFL players have tested positive for COVID-19. There are over 3000 players vying for roster spots. Attrition by the disease may well be a deciding factor in who makes the Giants’ roster. While Major League Baseball (MLB) has given the NFL a sport to track the impact of COVID-19, baseball is not a contact sport.
Can the NFL and the Giants put in place COVID-19 protocols and safety measures to protect the players in such a highly physical, constant contact sport?
Next week, everyone will find out.
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