The NFL will open training camps in less than three weeks. This comes amid a raging pandemic in the United States and a potential financial split between the league and its players.
And one star player is now speaking out against the league and NFLPA over their inaction when it comes to COVID-19 protocols. Eagles defensive tackle Malik Jackson let loose on Instagram on Wednesday:
“It is unacceptable and utterly disrespectful for the owners to have set a camp start date of July 28, 2020 with no safety/financial guarantee agreed upon for us as players, the backbone of this industry. Today is July 8 and we have no answers to simple questions we’ve been asking since this pandemic started. We (players) are sons, fathers & brothers wanting to protect our families during this unprecedented time. As Pro-Athletes we are willing and able (to) juggle. Juggle the risk that our careers bring, the stress of the game on our minds and bodies and most important making sure we don’t neglect our families.”
The Pro Bowl lineman did not stop there:
“Now, you want us to weigh putting food on the table the best way we know how which we could potentially catching the killer virus and bring it home or starve. I can not pass Rush from 6 feet away, I cannot defeat a double team from 6 feet away nor can I tackle somebody from 6 feet away (to not do those things in practice, just in games is asinine). This sport is not in any way able to be played 6 feet away, let alone stop the transfer of sweat and blood.”
It’s absolutely understandable where Jackson is coming from here. Experts have a hard time believing the NFL season will go on safely with the pandemic growing in the United States. As a contact sport, that’s magnified further.
We’ve also heard other players in leadership positions call the league out over its lack of protocols to keep players and their families safe.
With all the issues surrounding the season starting in September, it is surprising the league plans to start training camps on time. The league had previously said it would cut the preseason in half. Players don’t want a single preseason game.
As we saw with MLB and its players before the two sides ultimately agreed on a 60-game season, these issues around pro football could impact the 2020 NFL season starting without major hiccups. Such is the nature of the beast amid a pandemic and the economic downswing that it has caused.