Andy Reid's message to NFL, NFLPA: This is all of us vs. COVID

The upended NFL offseason led to comparisons to 2011 when a labor dispute kept players out of team buildings well into July.

Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid, who was in Philadelphia at the time, said that while offseason workouts have been scrapped, same as in 2011, the battle is much different.

"This time, this isn't us versus them," Reid said in a conference call for football personnel, via Peter King in his Football Morning In America column. "This isn't players versus owners and coaches. This is all of us -- players, coaches, owners, teams -- versus COVID."

In 2011, when the lockout was over, the league pressed ahead with little worry. This year, the NFL will continue to deal with the virus for the rest of the campaign.

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Friday that Reid played a key role in the NFL and NFLPA agreeing on terms to open up training camps on time this week. Reid helped advise Commissioner Roger Goodell, spoke on a call with owners last week and was crucial in helping walk the union through what training camp could look like.

"I got on the phone with the union guys, and I had a lot of respect for them," Reid said. "They had concerns that we'd take care of the players physically. They insisted on that. The union did a nice job. Their concern was that as coaches we don't just throw 'em in the mix right away, don't ramp 'em up too fast. Which is smart. We can do that."

Reid being the voice of reason to both sides makes perfect sense. His longevity provides unique perspective, and the respect garnered from players, owners and other coaches is pervasive.

Battling COVID isn't a coaches-only problem. Players know they must be accountable to one another as well for the season to take place.

"We gotta find a way to get all 90 guys to do the right thing. That's hard," Detroit Lions linebacker Jamie Collins told King. "New guys, rookies, might want to get out and party. It's not just about one person. You bleed together, you sweat together, you do not want to play with vets' money. Men look at it totally different than boys. Kids are gonna be kids, especially in a new environment for the first time. That's gonna be really important."

The idea that an undrafted rookie could derail a team's season if he irresponsibly puts himself in an avoidable situation -- costing high-priced vets millions -- is sure to be a talking point in locker rooms. There is a long-held belief that players should never get involved in another's contract situation. This year that "not messing with another man's money" takes on a different sort of meaning. 

"A lot of it comes down to the responsibility of the players," Chargers running back Austin Ekeler told King. "It sucks, but we are going to have to distance ourselves from our fans and in some cases from our family. Our job depends on our availability. It'll take some sacrifice. But if we want to go back to work, it's really gonna come down to putting ourselves in our own little bubble."

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