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A majority of players on the Cleveland Browns, Chicago Bears, New England Patriots and Detroit Lions now say they plan to skip voluntary in-person workouts this spring due to concerns regarding COVID-19.
The Denver Broncos, Seattle Seahawks and Tampa Bay Buccaneers have previously agreed not to participate in in-person workouts this offseason, continuing the tensions between the NFL players and the league.
“Players remain unclear about the protocols and protections, and rules remain inconsistent, despite the last minute communication by the NFL yesterday,” the NFL Players Association said in a statement Thursday on behalf of Bears players.
“We felt healthier both physically and mentally, which we attribute to sufficient recovery time and the lack of additional wear and tear on our bodies during the spring months,” the NFLPA said on behalf of Browns players. “The league-wide injury data supports us as well, as NFL players experienced a 23% reduction in missed-time injuries last season.”
The Detroit Lions and the New England Patriots claim that “many of us” would not be participating in the workouts due to rising COVID-19 numbers and their own personal health and safety.
The Lions also referenced their home state of Michigan, which they say, “continues to get hit hard by the pandemic.”
The league has said it will not mandate vaccines for players, but will strongly encourage players to get their shots as soon as they are eligible.
The Athletic reports the NFL’s offseason program ― sent to teams on Wednesday in a memo — will include more than a month of virtual meetings, followed by five weeks of on-field work that will include 10 voluntary practices and a three-day mandatory minicamp.