NFL players union wants all-virtual offseason, may boycott

An all-virtual offseason may well become the new normal if NFL players get their way, and boycotts could be part of the means to achieve that end.

The NFL Players Association wants the entire 2021 offseason program to be virtual in an effort to reduce injuries and due to safety concerns related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Cleveland Browns center and players union president JC Tretter spoke to his peers in a Friday call about the situation, per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero:

Tretter recently authored a column in which he highlighted how much the unprecedented 2020 offseason led to a huge reduction in player injuries across the league. Key points from that column were posted by the NFLPA:

Although plenty of notable stars went down with major injuries last season, the data shows that the multitude of virtual meetings as opposed to grueling, physical practices, and the cancellation of the preseason actually helped mitigate injuries overall.

The NFL recently moved forward with plans to reduce preseason games from four to three, but that came at the cost of a 17th regular-season game.

While the extra game on the slate is going to generate additional revenue for the league, the players themselves are put at risk once again. No additional bye week accompanied the expanded regular-season schedule.

Organized team activities are voluntary in the first place, so this issue could really come to a head if NFL players wind up boycotting mandatory June minicamps.

Related: Everything you need to know about the 2021 NFL season