Source: NFL Owners Offer Players No Preseason Games In '20
The NFL yesterday made an offer to the NFLPA to "play no preseason games this summer," according to a source cited by Adam Schefter of ESPN.com. The players had been "pushing to not play preseason games this year, and the league had been seeking to play two games instead of the usual four." A source told ESPN.com's Dan Graziano that the league's proposal to the players includes an "offer for a longer training camp acclimation period," and that is "closer to what the union proposed." The NFLPA has "not yet informed the league whether it will accept the proposal" (ESPN.com, 7/20). In L.A., Sam Farmer reports as of last night, the league and its players' union have "found common ground on a lot of important issues." Those included daily virus testing, no preseason games, players being able to out of the season amid COVID-19 concerns and an expanded "acclimation period" -- meaning, no pads -- from seven to 18 days. But as of yesterday evening, there still was "no overall deal in place," and "not surprisingly, it all comes down to the financial challenges of putting on a season that might not be played to completion, and how the revenue hit of 2020 will be absorbed in future seasons" (L.A. TIMES, 7/21). In DC, Mark Maske also notes economics are the "major issue left" (WASHINGTON POST, 7/21).
FUTURE OF PRESEASON: ESPN's Graziano said of whether this opens the door for no preseason games in the future: “Preseason games are a terrible thing and they should be eliminated, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. When you read the new CBA that was just signed in March, there are stipulations about when the regular season goes to 17 games … the preseason goes down to three. The owners still want to keep that slate of 20 games, of 10 home games for each team” (“Get Up,” ESPN, 7/21).
MORE DETAILS: USA TODAY's Mike Jones reports NFL owners held a video conference call yesterday "in an attempt to resolve outstanding issues" (USA TODAY, 7/21). NFL Network's Ian Rapoport said from his understanding, the league and players' union are "getting closer on the economic piece of this.” At one point the two sides were "very far apart," but they are "slowly getting closer together, potentially toward an agreement as we move forward here” (“Good Morning Football,” NFL Network, 7/21). In N.Y., Ken Belson notes the financial formula does "not need to be agreed on by the start of training camp" (N.Y. TIMES, 7/21). In Boston, Ben Volin takes a deep dive on all the issues agreed to and outstanding (BOSTON GLOBE, 7/21).
UNION PERSPECTIVES: NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith, serving as a guest columnist for SI.com, wrote of his players, "I am proud of them for using their voices and platforms for the collective good. ... What our union has done though, is put in clear and strong health and safety checklists to keep our men and their families as safe as possible. This is how we hold management accountable to the operating protocols and other agreements we pushed for to start our season" (SI.com, 7/20). NFLPA Assistant Exec Dir of External Affairs George Atallah said that the league "didn't 'offer' to give up preseason games, but that the NFL had the right to set preseason games, or not, under the existing labor deal." He also said that the NFL "didn't 'concede' regarding healthy and safety issues, but that the two sides implemented the best COVID-19 protocols together" (NBCSPORTS.com, 7/20).
GMS REACT: CBSSPORTS.com's Jason La Canfora reported he "recently spoke with four NFL general managers -- all of whom still had significant questions themselves as to how camp and the preseason will actually play out." La Canfora: "While there were varying opinions about what a COVID-19 training camp should look like, there was agreement among all that it seemed close to impossible to start camp as normal on the current veteran date (July 28) and be able to conduct the sort of practice schedule teams would have in years past" (CBSSPORTS.com, 7/20).
WIN FOR THE PLAYERS: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Andrew Beaton writes the sides' agreement on these matters come after a "period of blistering public criticism about safety standards from stars across the league" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 7/21). THE ATHLETIC's Lindsay Jones: "Consider this item a win for players, who had pushed for daily testing, while the league initially looked for tests to be performed several times per week" (THEATHLETIC.com, 7/20). In Chicago, Barry Rozner writes the NFLPA has "never been very good at anything." But over the weekend, it "finally got the players together, following the lead of baseball players, and took to Twitter to pound on the NFL for what it perceives to be a lack of planning and safety precautions as camps are set to open" (Chicago DAILY HERALD, 7/21). In S.F., Ann Killion writes under the header, "NFL Players Use Power Of Their Voices To Get Some Progress On Virus Testing" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 7/21).
MORE REAX: In Philadelphia, Marcus Hayes writes it "would be astounding if the NFL didn’t botch its return-to-play." It is "not as though they haven’t had the time." In fact, they have "had the most time." The league "doesn’t need preseason games." It "doesn’t even need to start in September." Hayes: "What the NFL needs in its 101st season is to finally earn the trust of its players" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 7/21). In Houston, Jerome Solomon writes the NFL has "rarely made a decision solely out of concern for player safety without being forced to do so." If this were only about player safety, the league "would suspend its season until there are more assurances against the virus leading to a tragedy in the NFL family" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 7/21). In Pittsburgh, Paul Zeise wonders while MLB botched its return-to-play negotiations, "What is the NFL’s excuse?" The NFL "had a whole summer to watch MLB make every gaffe possible en route to finally getting a deal." They had a "whole summer to watch the issues the NBA and NHL encountered, and they had a whole summer to sit down at the table and hammer out a deal that made sense for both the owners and players" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 7/21).
TAKE A TIMEOUT? In L.A., Bill Plaschke writes football, "all of it," from Pop Warner to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, "needs to avoid the inevitable sack from a surging coronavirus and call a six-month timeout." Plaschke: "Shut down NFL training camps before they open. Forget the idea of unpaid college athletes playing abbreviated schedules on campuses deemed unsafe for regular students. Follow the lead of California high schools and temporarily dim all Friday night lights" (L.A. TIMES, 7/21).