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NFLPA president JC Tretter calls on NFL to 'prioritize player safety'

With three weeks to go until the planned start of training camp amid a global pandemic, there remain disagreements between the NFL and its players union as to how to execute training camp and the preseason in 2020.

NFL Players Association president JC Tretter said as much in an article Tuesday, in which he reiterated the NFLPA's priority is, and that of the NFL should be, "player safety" and that a return to "normal" as the league knows it should not be the goal in 2020.

"Since March, we have had hours of return to work meetings, reviewed research and developed detailed protocols -- all of which will be wasted if the NFL refuses to think and act differently when it comes to getting through a full season," Tretter wrote. "Players don't just want to return to work; we want to stay at work."

Tretter pointed out in the letter that the NFL rejected a 48-day training camp schedule, as recommended by an NFL-NFLPA Joint Committee of doctors, trainers and strength coaches, and also failed to provide a "medical reason" for its desire to play two preseason games, citing instead a desire to evaluate rosters and test out game protocols. The NFLPA Board of Player Representatives unanimously voted to recommend playing no preseason games this season last Thursday.

The NFL is not commenting on Tretter's post, but a league source told NFL Network's Tom Pelissero that Tretter's comments are "very disappointing and contrary to the sense of collaboration going back to early days of mid-March."

The source added, "We've been talking virtually every day on these issues to the point we've heard directly from [the] union where they've expressed how closely and collegial we've worked together for good of players, NFL staff, their families and the good of the game."

The NFL and the NFLPA sent jointly approved COVID-19 protocols for 2020 training camp and preseason to clubs on Friday.

These decisions by the league, Tretter wrote, threaten the viability of a successful regular season in 2020.

"Every decision this year that prioritizes normalcy over innovation, custom over science or even football over health, significantly reduces our chances of completing the full season," Tretter said.

"We don't want to merely return to work and have the season shut down before we even get started. The NFLPA will do its part to advocate for player safety. We will continue to hold the NFL accountable and demand that the league use data, science and the recommendations of its own medical experts to make decisions. It has been clear for months that we need to find a way to fit football inside the world of coronavirus. Making decisions outside that lens is both dangerous and irresponsible."

Veteran players around the league are scheduled to report to training camp on July 28.

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