Report: NFLPA Leadership Could Urge Player Boycotts Without All-Virtual Offseason

Blake SchusterContributor IApril 9, 2021

FOXBOROUGH, MA - DECEMBER 28: A logo for the NFL is seen during a game between the New England Patriots and the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium on December 28, 2020 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

NFL Players Association president JC Tretter has told union members to boycott offseason training activities if the league does not agree to an all-virtual summer practice schedule, according to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero:

Tom Pelissero @TomPelissero

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 COVID pandemic. Talks with owners continue.

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport tweeted on Wednesday that teams expect some on-field group practices to take place this offseason with health and safety protocols at the forefront of those discussions. 

In a column posted to the NFLPA website, Tretter explained why he believes continuing with virtual offseasons is better for the game overall. Data reviewed by a third party after last year found a 23 percent decrease in missed-time injuries, a 30 percent reduction in concussions and a 45 percent decrease in heat-related illness. 

Tretter wrote: 

"The good news for our sport is that while the NFL season looked and felt noticeably different from previous years, we learned that the game of football did not suffer at the expense of protecting its players more than ever before. Our process is to follow the science on what is safest for our guys, and many of the changes this past year—like no in-person offseason workouts/practices, the extended acclimation period before training camp and no preseason games—gave us a year of data that demonstrates maintaining some of these changes long-term is in the best interest of the game."

Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio reported in late March the NFLPA's concern over the ongoing pandemic, as well, when it comes to OTAs. While vaccinations are rising, the union is worried over the rise of new COVID-19 variants that continue to spread. 

Only one minicamp is considered mandatory by the league, but even that was scrapped last offseason as the pandemic changed the landscape of sports. 

Tretter and the Players' Union leadership aren't ready for things to go back to the way they were and are willing to direct their members to boycott if the NFL disagrees.