The NFLPA board voted on a conference call this week in favor of not playing any preseason games ahead of the 2020 season, NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reported Friday.
The vote came as a result of discussion within union leadership on whether it would be smart to play any preseason games, and after two days of time to mull the current situation regarding a return to work amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the board decided in favor of a longer runway for preparation for the NFL's regular season. The NFL, meanwhile, maintains a desire to trim the preseason schedule from four games to two in an effort to create a longer ramp-up period for players.
The league believes it is its right within the current collective bargaining agreement to set the preseason schedule, per Garafolo.
"It's clear that the union and the league are not on the same page with regard to the length of the preseason right now," Garafolo said during his report on NFL NOW.
Training camps are set to begin in late July, and this week the NFLPA laid out a potential four-stage plan of protocols for a unique preparation period that would replace the preseason.
The first stage would be medical physicals for all players upon reporting to camp, which would last three days, per NFL Network's Tom Pelissero. The following 21 days would make up the second stage, a strength and conditioning program to prepare the players' bodies for a return to football activity. From there, teams would move to a third stage that would resemble OTAs in which players would participate in 10 days of non-contact, non-padded practices before eventually shifting to a 14-day fourth stage that would be focused on what camp traditionally looks like, with potentially 10 total practices with a maximum of eight padded practices.
That total of 48 days would immediately precede Week 1, replacing preseason games with the longer preparation period desired by the NFLPA.
Understandably, there are concerns from players on the safety of operating while the COVID-19 pandemic continues spreading in many areas of the country.
"The players I'm told are expressing a number of concerns on this call," Garafolo said during an earlier report on NFL NOW. "Not the least of which, is if there's so much concern about this virus right now, why are we returning to work, period? And I was told that one of the medical experts said that is something you're going to have to decide on an individual basis. Basically, are some players going to opt out based on risk factors and just how they're feeling about themselves and their family? So that is something to watch going forward."
As with everything, this remains a developing situation. For now, though, we'll continue to wait for a definitive decision on the preseason.