NFLPA head calls out Tom Brady's workouts: 'Not in best interest of player safety'

John Healy
June 28, 2020 - 12:58 pm
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Tom Brady’s defiance against coronavirus recommendations from the NFLPA does not seem to be going over well with the head of the union.

NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith sounded off on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback, who continued to hold offseason workouts despite last Saturday’s advice from the union’s medical director, Dr. Thom Mayer, that all players stop holding such workouts as positive cases of the deadly disease continue to spike across the country.

“Those practices are not in the best interest of player safety,” Smith told Mackenzie Salmon of USA Today. “They’re not in the best interest of protecting our players heading into training camp. And I don’t think they are in the best interest of us getting through an entire season.”

Along with Brady, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson also held workouts against the NFL's recommendations.

The 42-year-old Brady responded to some of his critics on Thursday with a quote on his Instagram story from President Franklin Roosevelt, “Only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.”

The Bucs were one of several NFL teams who had players test positive over the last week, raising concerns about the NFL’s attempt to play a season amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Training camp is scheduled to go on in late July – around the same time other professional team sports will restart its seasons, which plan to play through the season while quarantining players who test positive for COVID-19.

Smith said that the NFL and union are in ongoing talks over how they will handle positive coronavirus tests among players.

“I certainly understand how competitive our players are, and I get that,” he told USA Today. “But at the same time, we are in the process of trying to negotiate, we have to negotiate with the league about what happens to a player if they test positive during the season. Does that player go on injured reserve? Do they go on short-term IR? If you test positive for the virus after training camp, is that a work-related injury? Are you covered under workers’ comp? What benefits are available to you if you have downstream injuries from contracting COVID-19?

“All of the things that players may want to do during the offseason, have a direct impact on how well we can negotiate protections for them once the season starts. We sent out the guidance because that was in their best health and safety interests. Let’s just say for some of the players who have practiced, we’ve made sure they heard the message.”

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