ProFootballDoc: NFL Players and Owners Should Call Timeout On Twitter COVID Battle

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Millionaires versus Billionaires is always a bad look. It is becoming proof positive again when dealing with COVID health.

Fans didn’t like it when MLB players and owners took their fight public.
Or NBA Players tweeting about Disney resort rooms, calling them the Red Roof Inn.
Fans aren’t going to like NFL players heading to Twitter on Sunday in what appears to be an orchestrated effort. 

This is not an individual frustrated or afraid. This is unrest by design.

Players claim the NFL has not addressed major health and safety issues, which is simply not true.  There is, however, no question that it is a medical impossibility to keep players 100% safe. What I also know is that all 32 teams have submitted Infectious Disease Emergency Response plans, which are awaiting approval from the NFLPA and the typical plan is over 100 pages long. 

Players are also now accusing the NFL of not listening to their own medical experts.  The reality is that players did not listen to the recommendations of their own medical experts either. It was a joint panel of NFL and NFLPA physicians that recommended increased acclimation time given the absence of an in-person offseason program, but the union refused the owners request to report earlier for training camp to accommodate this. The argument could have been made that the players “owed” the days since they were not beholden to mandatory mini-camp or offseason workout. The union’s own medical expert implored players to cease working out together in the offseason but in one of several examples, the Buccaneer players led by Tom Brady continued to gather to practice.

I understand the desire for players — like Russell Wilson — to keep themselves and their families safe. Although there are no specific dangers identified with pregnancy and COVID, it is way too early to declare there are no medical worries and it is smart to stay safe. There is no question if Wilson wants to be as safe as possible, he should not play or he should keep himself quarantined from his family if he does. No NFL protocol can ever insure complete safety. However, all players need to realize the risk in society is greater than the risk inside the practice facilities or on game day.  I don’t believe NFL players want to be in a bubble like the NBA but they need to do their part along with the league in order to have a successful season.

Have these players spoken to their team medical staff members?
That should be the first thing these players should do.

I know for a fact that team physicians and athletic trainers have spent hundreds of hours on CoronaVirus protocols. Perhaps the players would welcome the knowledge and be better equipped to understand the risk if they knew the work put in by those staffers. It would also be a way to get answers to their questions. Posting questions on Twitter certainly is not an effective way to get answers. If there are suggestions from team physicians that the league is not acting on, let’s hear about them and raise the specific issue.

The NFL is not without blame either. Its communication and education of players and coaches on simple issues of how the disease is transmitted has been lacking. Banning post game jersey exchanges is a silly rule that is more about optics and muddies the narrative. 

This argument is not about COVID. It is about the preseason. The NFL wants two games to allow for “dress rehearsals” with the new protocols for all stadiums and the players don’t want to play in them since there is no extra pay to do so. 

In the end, I feel the players and league are aligned and will play. With revenue sharing, loss of income to the owners translates to a lower salary cap and less overall player pay going into the future. Unlike other leagues there is a direct tie between both parties which means this season is happening. It is now a power play for how it happens.

A power play that should not unfold online.

Written by Dr. David Chao

David Chao, MD -- known digitally as Pro Football Doc -- is an expert contributor for Outkick. Chao spent 17 seasons as the team doctor for the San Diego Chargers (1997-2013) and is part of the medical team at OASIS in San Diego where he treats and specializes in orthopedic sports injuries, working with high-profile professional athletes from the NFL, NBA, and MLB.


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  1. ***…Banning post game jersey exchanges is a silly rule that is more about optics and muddies the narrative. ***

    This was a dumb move on the NFL’s part. They’re implying more danger than actually exists. If jersey swapping was truly a concern, then how can the league reasonably promote playing tackle football?

    You’d think someone would bring this up before it gets approved.

    • I am sure the NFL had its reason. Optics might be part of it but I would say make all players/coaches/staff wear a mask before any post-game greeting. Heck players might like that so they could put messages on the mask (before that is banned by the following week).

  2. Dr. Chao, thank you for the article. I love that OutKick is growing and I look forward to hearing medical opinions that don’t come with the sort of “spin” you might hear on wokecenter. And I agree, millionaires fighting with billionaires is a bad look. To your point about the NBA players, I already refuse to watch the “bubble games”. I have no interest in watching clueless millionaire millennials who have less interest in basketball than they do in their “extra-curricular” activities (I am speaking of the “extra-curricular” activities I have read about here on OutKick)

  3. Great points, Dr. Chao. I think teams have to get players in the facilities and do individual or small group discussion sessions with the medical staffs and coaches and lay out all of the information available so players can really make a good decision. I think players, by only following Twitter, have become mushrooms (kept in the dark and fed b.s). They should bring their facts and concerns and be given the “alternative facts” and this should alleviate their worries. If the players turn down these intimate meetings, then their bluffs will have been called, and they are raising concerns for political reasons.

  4. The NFL suffers from a lack of leadership (Goddell and owners) and the by players who think what they do is somehow essential. To an extent, they are correct in that the games give fans a pleasant diversion from life’s daily grind. Add COVID to all the social justice virtue signaling and the awful gameplay experience, exacerbated by rule changes, incessant TV breaks, and stoppage for instant replay reviews, and many, including me, don’t really care if they play or not. I’ll trail at a distance and spend as little $ to do so. I canceled my Sunday Ticket subscription last week. The Golden Goose is on life support.

  5. NFL players have seen that you get TwitterPoints for defying management and demanding change.
    Even high school football players are doing it — and succeeding. So the NFL guys fabricate a charge akin to “violent video games cause actual violence.” It’s hard to verify or disprove if the owners are doing enough or not to control Covid. But hey, this feigned outrage is a good TwitterLook for the players — and that’s what matters most to them.

  6. This is exactly what I said in the VIP Message Board. Fans see what players are trying to do. How ignorant can they be with COVID safety?

    Plus I have to think most of the younger players and rookies WANT to play a preseason game or two in an attempt to make a roster. However, these “voices” on twitter are the highest paid locked in roster starters who DGAF about the younger teammates.

  7. Thank you, Doctor Chao! With all the noise being made by everyone it’s difficult for your points and facts to be heard by the NFLPA and the players.
    We’ve got this herd mentality and practice field environment going on right now and everybody’s running in place waiting for some coach-speak or for someone to shout into the megaphone, “move right”, or “drop and gimme 10”. Ain’t happening? Okay, let’s all just fold our arms and bitch and moan and blame somebody else.
    How ’bout you all pick up the 100-page safety plan, pretend it’s your playbook, and read the damn thing!!! They won’t because they know it all; no time for that stuff.

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