Cleveland Browns center and NFL Players Association President JC Tretter foresees "a long list of hurdles" ahead of players and the league surrounding the viability of the 2020 season during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
"This is a contact disease, and we play a contact sport," Tretter told Browns reporters Tuesday. "You can't expect just to throw football back in and think that the virus is going to kneel down to almighty football. You have to look through different ways of making sure people stay healthy."
Tretter later added:
"There's a level of risk of everything. You're facing a level of risk right now going to the grocery store. There's always going to be a level of exposure that people are going to face in this. So I don't think we'll ever get to a point where there's no risk of exposure.
"Coming in contact with other people is a risk of exposure. So that's never going to be down to zero. Our job [at the NFLPA] is to try to get that to as close to zero as possible, and that's why you kind of have to look at everything."
Tretter was elected the NFLPA president on March 10.
The 29-year-old was immediately responsible for navigating the aftermath of a new 10-year collective bargaining agreement ratified on March 15, but COVID-19 is uncharted territory for everybody in sports.
NFLPA Medical Director Thom Mayer disclosed on The Adam Schefter Podcast on Monday that league engineers have been working with Oakley on modified face masks for players and testing prototypes replicating N95 protective face masks:
"They've got some prototypes. They're doing really good work. Some of them, when you first look at them, you think, 'Gosh, no' 'cause you're not used to seeing it. You're just not used to seeing it. But they're looking at every issue you can imagine, including when it fogs up. What do we do with that? But these guys are used to dealing with this stuff."
Mayer also echoed Tretter's cautious tone: "For a player like that, getting the helmet off, putting a mask on right afterward, maintaining social distancing when not in the field as much as possible, using single-use hydration—whether water, Gatorade, whatever it might be—I mean, just every little detail."
The NFL extended its virtual offseason through May 29, but teams were permitted to start reopening facilities with strict protocols in place Tuesday.
The 2020 regular season is scheduled to kick off with the reigning champion Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans on Sept. 10 at Arrowhead Stadium.