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NFLPA Board Votes Unanimously to Play No Preseason Games This Year amid COVID-19

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistJuly 3, 2020

ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 28:  NFL Footballs sit on the field before a game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Buffalo Bills on Thanksgiving Day at AT&T Stadium on November 28, 2019 in Arlington, Texas.  The Bills defeated the Cowboys 26-15.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

The board of representatives of the NFL Players Association voted unanimously Thursday to recommend the league cancels the entire preseason amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to Dan Graziano of ESPN. 

The union has discussed potential adjustments to training camp that will allow the players to prepare for Week 1 without exhibition games, as noted by Tom Pelissero of NFL Network:

Tom Pelissero @TomPelissero

With the NFLPA still opposed to preseason games, one possible camp schedule the union has discussed: 3 days: medical/equipment 21 days: strength & conditioning 10 days: unpadded practice 14 days: practice (10 max/8 padded) Then it’d be straight into Week 1.

The NFL would need to approve any changes, although the league reportedly has already decided to shorten the preseason from the usual four games to just two. Per Kevin Seifert of ESPN, the NFL effectively canceled Week 1 and Week 4 of the preseason schedule.

Graziano previously reported Thursday's two-hour call included a discussion of various restrictions amid COVID-19, and reported the sentiment among some players is: "Why are we playing at all if it's this unsafe?"

The coronavirus has led to over 128,000 deaths in the United States so far while there were over 50,000 new cases Wednesday, the highest since the start of the pandemic, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The NFL still plans to begin on time in September while players are expected to report to training camp on July 28 as initially scheduled.

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The shortened preseason could lead to fewer players being involved, with ESPN's Adam Schefter reporting it could be as few as 75 participants per team instead of the usual 90.

Removing preseason games completely would make it even more difficult to determine a final roster, while transitioning directly to regular-season games could be a challenge for all players. However, it would also limit the risk of exposure to the coronavirus for another month with reduced contact between players and zero travel for team personnel.

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