NFL and NFLPA Haven’t Struck a Deal With Training Camp Looming

The scheduled start date of training camp on July 28 is fast approaching

Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia talks to players during training camp.
Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia talks to players during training camp.
Allan Dranberg/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
By Evan Bleier / July 14, 2020 12:01 pm

MLS is already back on the pitch and the NBA, NHL and MLB all gearing up for a return to play within the coming weeks. As for the NFL, the September 10 start date of the regular season is getting closer each day.

But, though the NFL has given every outward indication it is planning for the season to start on time, the league has yet to settle on a firm plan as to how playing professional football in the midst of a pandemic will work.

For months, the NFL and NFL Players Association have been locked in negotiations and discussions about how to safely play a game that makes social distancing impossible and requires gigantic rosters, large coaching staffs and loads of support personnel.

With training camps set to open on July 28, the NFL and NFLPA have yet to agree on a testing strategy, whether or not there should be a preseason and how to deal with the financial fallout of a season without any, or at least decreased, revenue from ticket sales. Face shields are another sticking point.

“All of it makes this moment the ultimate convergence of the three major issues — safety, money and football — that the NFL and its players thought they had resolved when they agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement back in March after contentious negotiations,” The Wall Street Journal reports. “But then the pandemic happened. After four months, those issues are threatening to boil over into when the NFL should be returning.”

They aren’t all on the same page, but there is clearly a feeling amongst players that the NFL does not have a solid plan to get the 2020 season started on time, though the league has yet to publicly admit that.

“As the days roll past in July, every NFL player is scrolling through Twitter, finding out news about the upcoming season, wondering if there will even be a season,” New England Patriots teammates and twin brothers Devin and Jason McCourty wrote in a guest column for Sports Illustrated. “So many questions with virtually no answers, all three weeks removed from a potential start to training camp. As fear continues to grow for our nation, it is also being spoken about among us players. Will we have an option to opt out of the season? Will we be making our full salary? What if there is a COVID outbreak within the league? It’s so hard to make a decision of whether we will play or not without knowing what the exact plan is.”

There is no reason to believe a plan won’t be put in place at this point, but it is certainly time to acknowledge that the clock is ticking.

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