Now’s not really the best time for mad gains.
The NFL season, such as it was given the events of the past year, concluded a few months ago, leaving teams and players with time to prepare before the start of the 2021 season in September. As more football fans receive vaccines, many team owners are confident that the 2021 season will be a return to normalcy for the sport, with packed stadiums and cheering spectators. However, that time hasn’t come yet, and until it does, it seems many of the teams would rather play things safe than jump the gun.
With support from the NFL Players Association, several teams have formally opted out of the annual offseason workout sessions, expressing hope instead for another virtual offseason like last year.
“It is the recommendation of the NFLPA based on our medical experts’ advice that if the voluntary offseason program is in person, players should not attend,” NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith and president JC Tretter said in their letter to players. “Therefore, as teams host calls to discuss these issues we urge that all players consider their own health and safety, make a personal decision about attending voluntary workouts and take into consideration the unanimous recommendation of the NFLPA COVID committee that we have an entirely virtual offseason.”
After the NFLPA’s letter, several teams, including the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Denver Broncos, Seattle Seahawks, Detroit Lions, and New England Patriots have given statements explaining why some or all of their players would be skipping the workout sessions.
A statement from the New England Patriots players: pic.twitter.com/1gl84knZrS
— NFLPA (@NFLPA) April 14, 2021
“While many states in this country are still seeing rising COVID-19 numbers, we believe that a virtual offseason is best for everyone’s protection,” the Seahawks’ statement read. “Our hope is that we will see a positive shift in the COVID-19 data that will allow for a safe return for players when mandatory workouts are set to begin.”
“Players on our team are proud to support other players across the league in making an informed decision about their health and safety, guided by the facts and support from our union,” the Lions’ statement read, referencing Michigan’s high COVID numbers.
The NFL, for its part, is encouraging all staff members and players to get vaccinated as soon as they are able. Exceptions will be made, but only for “bona fide medical or religious” reasons, and any outliers would have their access to facilities limited.