The NFL’s plans to move forward with its season appears to be clouded in doubt as a number of stars — including Drew Brees and Russell Wilson — spoke out together on Sunday, blasting leadership for what they saw as a lack of proper preparations.
A slew of athletes took to Twitter on Sunday to call out the NFL for what they saw as a failure to put in place a proper plan for how the season and practices can proceed, with many of them saying that the NFL ignored their own experts in putting together a blueprint for moving forward. In his message on Twitter, Brees claimed that the league was abandoning the recommendations of its own experts. You can see Brees’ tweet here.
“We need Football! We need sports! We need hope!” he wrote. “The NFL’s unwillingness to follow the recommendations of their own medical experts will prevent that. If the NFL doesn’t do their part to keep players healthy there is no football in 2020. It’s that simple. Get it done.”
Wilson shared a similar messages, as did Derek Carr, Aaron Donald, and J.J. Watt, with the three including the hashtag #WeWantToPlay. In his message, Wilson pointed out that he has a pregnant wife and wants to play, but also needs to protect his loved ones.
The messages have come as the league faces increasing scrutiny over what critics see as a lack of preparation. In a column published by USA Today on Sunday, shortly after the athletes shared their own concerns, Dan Wolken wrote that the NFL had the most time to put together a proper plan to deal with the COVID-19 crisis, but appeared to have done less than its counterparts in the NBA, NHL, and MLB.
The NFL was in its offseason when the outbreak first hit the United States, leading the other major sports to go on indefinite hiatus and with several weeks before teams were scheduled to start offseason activities. Yet Wolken said that the NFL has still not put together a coherent plan for testing and player safety. While some have expressed doubt that the season will be able to be played in full, Wolken did express hope that the NFL could still right the ship, saying there was too much at stake for all to let it slip away.
“Whatever risks players assume by trying to play football right now are attached to significant financial incentives that they will not easily give up,” he wrote. “Both the league and the players’ association should be motivated to get this worked out and to do the very best they can to provide a safe environment.”