The reigning Super Bowl-champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers just became the most recent team to announce their decision to skip this year’s voluntary NFL workouts. The Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks have also opted out.
In an official statement from the NFL Players Association on behalf of the Bucs players, the team explained their decision.
Aside from the obvious fact that there’s an ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Tampa Bay players cited their solid play in 2020, despite an all-virtual offseason, as their reasoning for opting out.
“NFL players across our league are a group of professionals who care about our jobs, our community and our families,” the statement reads. “We made a commitment to the organization, to Bucs fans and to each other that we would come back to try and bring another world championship to Tampa Bay.
“We know that our union worked to negotiate safety protocols , but in light of the ongoing pandemic, we are choosing t0 take a stand with other players across the league and exercise our right to not participate in the voluntary offseason program. We had a fully virtual offseason last year and we held each other accountable to do the work it took to win and we plan to do that again.”
A statement from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers players. pic.twitter.com/SOa24L779P
— NFLPA (@NFLPA) April 13, 2021
This statement, along with the others made by teams so far, were spurred by a letter issued to players by NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith and president JC Tretter — encouraging them not to attend this year’s voluntary offseason program.
“It is the recommendation of the NFLPA based on our medical experts’ advice that if the voluntary offseason program is in person, players should not attend,” Smith and Tretter said in the letter, per NFL Network insider Tom Pelissero. “Therefore, as teams host calls to discuss these issues we urge that all players consider their own health and safety, make a personal decision about attending voluntary workouts and take into consideration the unanimous recommendation of the NFLPA COVID committee that we have an entirely virtual offseason.”
If the NFLPA got their way, all minicamps and preseason meetings would be virtual until in-person training camp this summer. The league owners reportedly countered with a proposal that included just the first two weeks of offseason meetings in a virtual format before heading to in person.
Clearly, with these recent statements from the Bucs and other teams across the league, this counter wasn’t good enough.
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