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NFLPA president urges player safety amid COVID-19 pandemic

As the NFL continues to make plans to play the 2020 season, the safety of players remains paramount.

The league issued a guideline of protocols for players to return to work, including a tiered system of access to buildings, and continues to work on a system of testing that will keep players as healthy as possible.

New NFLPA president, JC Tretter of the Cleveland Browns, released a letter Tuesday to players surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and recycled misconceptions that "will be used to undermine the strength of our union and the legitimacy of your career."

Notes from Tretter include rebutting well-worn clichés such as "Playing in the NFL is a privilege, not a right" and "You should just play for the love of the game."

Tretter also responds to the belief that NFL players are young and healthy athletes and will be fine even if they catch the coronavirus.

"We are not invincible, and as recent reports have shown, we certainly aren't immune to this virus," Tretter wrote. "Underlying conditions like high BMI, asthma and sleep apnea are all associated with a higher risk of developing severe symptoms and complications when infected with COVID-19. Those conditions are widespread across the league. NFL players are humans -- some with immunocompromised family members or live-in elderly parents. Trust me: we want to play football. But as a union, our most important job is keep our players safe and alive. The NFLPA will fight for our most at-risk players and their families."

Several players and NFL personnel have recently been diagnosed with COVID-19.

Tretter noted that, unlike some professions where precautions can be taken to social distance and wear protective equipment at all times, football is a unique job.

"It is the responsibility of the employer to provide a safe work environment," he wrote. "I encourage all workers to hold their employers accountable to high standards. More so than any other sport, the game of football is the perfect storm for virus transmission. There are protections, both short and long term, that must be agreed upon before we can safely return to work. The NFLPA will be diligent as we demand that the NFL provide us the safest workplace possible.

"I do not believe conversations about returning to work should be a race to the lowest common denominator among employees across different professions in different industries. We are all workers fighting for the same things: better pay, better benefits and better work rules. Our individual workplaces may be different, but we should support our fellow workers in pursuing gains instead of shaming them to come back to the pack. No worker should be complacent with their rights because they have what others outside their business deem 'good enough.' Instead of racing to the bottom, let's push each other to the top."

On Monday, the NFLPA directed agents to ensure players were aware of the COVID-19 risks before training camps being -- currently scheduled for veterans to report on July 28.

Later Tuesday, Texans receiver Randall Cobb said in a tweet that the NFLPA will have a player-wide call on Thursday and advised players to join the call to "to hear the plans" and "know what to expect going into camp."

Tretter's letter underscores the uncertain nature of this offseason and the strides the NFL will continue to make to ensure players are as safe as possible as they return to work amid a pandemic.

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