In a statement released by New Orleans Saints players via the NFLPA, the Saints become the 17th roster across the NFL to opt out of in-person, voluntary offseason workouts. Standing in solidarity with the other NFL players who have already called for the NFL to shift offseason workouts to a virtual program.
A statement from the New Orleans Saints players: pic.twitter.com/nxQPGSDcXa— NFLPA (@NFLPA) April 17, 2021
Many teams around the NFL have challenged the league’s decisions to relax COVID protocols arguing that they are still necessary at this time. The statement from the Saints players cites another very important aspect. “By now, the benefits to our health and safety are well known, with significant reductions to concussions, missed time with injuries and soft tissue recovery.”
With the NFL being thrust into a virtual offseason last year, it became apparent that the standard practice may not be as necessary as previously assumed. This was summed up by an earlier statement from NFL Players’ Association President J.C. Tretter:
“The amount of hours at the facility were down, the amount of reps were down. And we’ve had this false reality that a ton of reps are necessary [even] as we watch our bodies break down by the end of the year every year...”
Head Coach Sean Payton gave players time during last year’s early offseason to be with their families and prepare for camp with their own regimens. The Super Bowl-winning coach told players, “Take care of your families, your health, and be ready this summer.” Considering that approach (and the 12-4 season to follow), it seems sure that the players have the support of the organization in choosing to forgo this year’s in-person workouts.
Even with the training being voluntary, most NFL players would usually show up, some with contract bonuses attached.
With 17 teams seeing players opt out in favor of a virtual approach, it’s only certain there will be more as the weeks continue.
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