Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady has continued to flout the NFLPA’s suggestions about offseason workouts.
And the head of the union made it clear he’s not thrilled with Brady’s decision, for reasons that go beyond the players who are putting themselves at risk by gathering in one of the country’s biggest COVID-19 hotspots.
“Those practices are not in the best interest of player safety,” NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said, in an interview with Mackenzie Salmon of USA Today. “They’re not in the best interest of protecting our players heading into training camp. And I don’t think they are in the best interest of us getting through an entire season.”
Smith pointed to the current discussions between the league and the union about workplace requirements, saying it was far more complicated than the matter of one group of players doing their own thing.
“I certainly understand how competitive our players are and I get that,” Smith said. ” At the same time, we are in the process of trying to negotiate, we have to negotiate with the league what happens when a player tests positive during the season. Does that player go on injured reserve? Do they go on short-term IR? If you test positive for the virus after training camp, is that a work-related injury? Are you covered under workers comp? What benefits are available to you if you have downstream injuries from contacting COVID-19?
“All of the things that players may want to do during the offseason, have a direct impact on how well we can negotiate protections for them once the season starts. We sent out the guidance because that was in their best health and safety interests. Let’s just say for some of the players who have practiced, we’ve made sure they heard the message.”
If Brady heard it, he doesn’t care, sending out another picture last week with the message: “Only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.”
Considering the rapid spread of the virus in Florida and the growing number of cases whenever players gather — along with the complications for the entire union Smith mentioned — perhaps he should expand the scope.