NFLPA President J.C. Tretter of the Cleveland Browns, has clarified the players’ position on Covid vaccination via a public letter.
Cleveland Browns center J.C. Tretter, protects Baker Mayfield as a football player, but in his role as National Football League Players Association President, he blocks for all of the players in the NFL.
He has is now blocking the NFL owners’ heavy-handed approach to vaccination policy.
Tretter recently opened up to discuss the COVID protocols, which has been a hot-button topic as of late.
"“Let’s start with a quick history lesson. Last year, the COVID Amendments, which were overwhelmingly passed by our Board, included protections for players across the board, and they are the same framework we are going to play under this year. To simplify this for everyone, the protocols that were implemented last year are nearly identical. The fines are the same. The mask wearing, physical distancing, testing and contact tracing are the same. Yes, there are changes to how vaccinated players can move about the building and do their jobs, but that is based on data and science.” — Tretter said via his release, Clearing Up the Facts on Our COVID Protocols"
It’s a fact that Tretter and the NFLPA were the proponents of a COVID policy. The owners’ plan last year was to simply place players on the Non-Football-Injury list without pay and to make no special provisions for Covid-19. What a great idea that was (NOT).
It would surely have led to games being canceled. The season would have definitely been ruined. Tretter and the NFLPA saved the season last year and that fact should not be forgotten. Temper tantrums by ownership is no way to deal with a pandemic, sorry.
The players and the league have a negotiated agreement, the Collective Bargaining Agreement. They can’t just violate that just because it seems like a good idea. This writer has sharply criticized players for refusing to get vaccinated, while at the same time recognizing that at the end of the day, it is the player’s personal decision to not be vaccinated if they should make that decision.
They may also decide to pop wheelies on a motorcycle while not wearing a helmet and while chain-smoking Camel cigarettes. I don’t condone any of these behaviors. But it’s their right, and it’s upheld under the CBA.
Tretter’s memo states flatly that games can be postponed, without specifying the conditions. This contradicts a blustery NFL memo issue on July 22, obtained by Tom Pelissero which says that postponements will be the same as forfeits.
However, since the language of the CBA has apparently not changed, it is hard to understand how that can be enforced. If it could be immediately and reliably determined that unvaccinated players were at fault, that might provide some moral high ground to assign liability.
Good luck getting that to stick in court, however. How will that work? The NFL will say, “We investigated, it was this player’s fault; he was unvaccinated and he wasn’t wearing his mask.” And the NFLPA lawyer will say, “No, he had a mask, and actually did get vaccinated but just didn’t tell anyone about it, and somebody else spread the virus, not him.”
How will that get settled in time for the playoffs? What a quagmire. Only an NFL owner would think this would be a viable policy.
Tretter’s memo does state that if a game is actually canceled due to Covid, under the terms of the existing CBA, players may miss game checks. That’s going to hurt the owners and the players. Tretter points out that they have a vested interest in cooperating.
This is a no-brainer. However, not everyone is using their brain in this situation.
Tretter also clarifies some press rumors, some of which were started by the owners. First, there is no lifting of Covid protocols if an 85% vaccination rate is reached. That’s not in the CBA.
Second, there is no agreement for unvaccinated players to wear wristbands.
Third, there are no new rules and restrictions for Covid protocols despite media reports. The rules are the same as they were last season. Unvaccinated players still have to wear masks and follow social distancing, etc., the same as last season. This isn’t new at all.
The NFL owners have vented their spleens via various press releases, pounded the table, and threatened to fire their players, but what matters is the CBA, and they are still operating under the same agreement as last season, with only minor changes.
It’s very simple. If it’s not legally agreed to in the Covid protocols of the CBA, there is no legally binding agreement. The owners cannot legally violate the terms of the CBA just because it seems like a good idea. That even includes Jerry Jones. Though much of what he says is very sensible, it has to be put in a legal document — the CBA — to be binding on the employees. Until then, he’s just adding to the confusion.
Tretter has exhibited great leadership through this entire process. If the owners need to create new rules and regulations — and it could very well be beneficial to do so — then they should work something out legally. Tretter is a reasonable negotiator and will always respond positively to a win-win proposition.
Very likely that is happening behind the scenes. However, the idea that the owners are going to haul off and implement new threats without negotiating was appropriate fifty years ago, but they cannot just run over Tretter and the NFLPA.
Come on, folks. Think. We need you to think and work together.