NFL stars declare #WeWantToPlay as the league’s pandemic plan remains unclear

NFL stars declare #WeWantToPlay as the league’s pandemic plan remains unclear
Image: JIM LO SCALZO/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

By Adam Rosenberg

Some of the National Football League’s top superstars staged a Twitter blitz on Sunday as league brass continues to dawdle on sharing COVID-19 contingency plans for the 2020/2021 season.

The tweets started to surface on Sunday afternoon, with all of them bearing this simple hashtag: #WeWantToPlay. While the tone of the tweets varies from player to player, the overriding concern shared by all of the ones posting is summed up in the hashtag – they want to play. They’re just not sure it’ll actually be safe.

I am concerned.
My wife is pregnant.@NFL Training camp is about to start..

And there’s still No Clear Plan on Player Health & Family Safety. 🤷🏾

We want to play football but we also want to protect our loved ones. #WeWantToPlay

— Russell Wilson (@DangeRussWilson) July 19, 2020

Getting ready to report this week hoping the @NFL will come to agreement with the safe and right protocols so we can feel protected playing the sport we love #WeWantToPlay

— Patrick Mahomes II (@PatrickMahomes) July 19, 2020

You want to watch football this year? Us players need to remain healthy in order to make that happen. The @NFL needs to do their part in order to bring football back safely in 2020. #WeWantToPlay

— Todd Gurley II (@TG3II) July 19, 2020

The Twitter action appears to be a coordinated effort spearheaded by the NFL Player’s Association. NFLPA president J.C. Tretter made it clear where the players’ union stands in a statement shared on Twitter.

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. The NFL needs to listen to our union and adopt the experts’ recommendations #wewanttoplay

— JC Tretter (@JCTretter) July 19, 2020

On of the more widely shared tweets, from Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, offers some specifics on how exactly the league is failing its players. There’s been very little communication on how some of the big issues will be handled ahead of and going into the 2020/2021 season in the midst of a global pandemic.

The timing of this Twitter campaign is especially noteworthy. As Watt himself notes, some members of the league will be expected to report for training camp as early as July 20, the day after the tweet campaign kicked off.

Once again in the interest of keeping everyone (players & fans) as informed as possible, here is an updated list of what we as players know and don’t know as the first group gets set to report to training camp tomorrow.#WeWantToPlay pic.twitter.com/xQcjs33zgM

— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) July 19, 2020

As the hashtag started to make noise on Twitter, fans joined in with messages of support for the players and suggestions as to how the NFL might keep players safe from COVID-19. But it’s the players’ message that really matters.

This coordinated union effort serves the NFL with a sharp reminder: the most important people to the league’s success – financial and otherwise – are the players themselves. Keeping those players in the dark on safety measures, and worse, exposing the players to unsafe working conditions isn’t going to end well for anyone.

The NFL is in a trickier position for staging a mid-pandemic comeback than many of the other top U.S. sports. Not only are team organizations generally larger than they are in the NBA and MLB, American football is also more of a contact support.

That makes the question of how to keep players safe and what to do if someone is diagnosed with COVID-19 all the more pressing. Mashable reached out to the NFL for comment and we’ll keep you updated on any response.

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