Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Malik Jackson posted an Instagram message on Wednesday evening expressing concern about the NFL’s upcoming training camp start date amidst the coronations pandemic.
@nfl @nflpa It is unacceptable and utterly disrespectful for the owners to have set a camp start date of July 28, 2020 with no safety/ financial guarantee agreed upon for us as players, the backbone of this industry. Today is July 8 and we have no answers to simple questions we’ve been asking since this pandemic started. We (players) are sons,fathers & brothers wanting to protect our families during this unprecedented time. As Pro-Athletes we are willing and able juggle. Juggle the risk that our careers bring, the stress of the game on our minds and bodies and most important making sure we don’t neglect our families. Now, you want us to weigh putting food on the table the best way we know how which we could potentially catching the killer virus and bring it home or starve.I can not pass Rush from 6 feet away, I cannot defeat a double team from 6 feet away nor can I tackle somebody from 6 feet away (to not do those things in practice, just in games is asinine). This sport is not in any way able to be played 6 feet away, let alone stop the transfer of sweat and blood.
Respectfully, every owner is over 40 and understandable will probably not be out there with us on the field nor in the building. I ask in this moment you see us as people not financial burdens or roster spots. Health is wealth for both parties.
Jackson’s Eagles teammate Miles Sanders was among the thousands who liked on his post. UPDATE: Rodney McLeod, Sidney Jones, and Nathan Gerry have also shared Jackson’s post.
The NFL and the NFLPA have already agreed on training camp facility protocols but the two sides are not on the same page on all fronts.
Recent reports indicate the league is asking for 35 percent of player salaries to be placed in escrow. One might not be shocked to hear that proposal isn’t so well-received:
The players’ side believes the league has no legal position to hold this year’s money in escrow. The NFLPA is adamant about borrowing for future years to offset a potential salary cap drop in 2021. To them, flat caps for a few years > giving back money in 2020.— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) July 8, 2020
Clarity on players being allowed to opt out of the 2020 season — which has been made available to professional athletes in other leagues like the NBA and MLB — also remains to be seen.
The NFL has remained steadfast about starting training camp and, subsequently, the upcoming season on time. But it’s clear that some of their talent have reservations as the start date approaches. Jackson is hardly the only player to express concern; former Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins said the following a few weeks ago:
“We kinda end up being on this trust system. The honor system, where we just have to kind of hope that people are social distancing and things like that. And that puts all of us at risk. Not only us as players and who’s in the building, but when you go home to your families. I have parents who I don’t want to get sick. Until we get to the point where we have protocols in place and until we get to a place as a country where we feel safe doing it, we have to understand that football is a nonessential business and so we don’t need to do it. So the risk, you know, has to be really eliminated before we, before I would feel comfortable with going back.” [...] “To be clear, I want to play football. I think all my peers want to play football. But there’s so much we don’t know right now. The bar for the NFL is going to be high when it comes to creating a safe work environment. ...It’s not just about the athletes, and their health, or the coaches or staff, but our family’s too.”