Giving Thanks in Troubling Times
On behalf of all of us at the NFL Players Association, I’d like to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. We have made it to Week 12 of the most unique and challenging NFL season in history, and it is only right that we take the time to recognize and thank everyone who has helped us get to this point. We have much work to do before we can get to the Super Bowl, but there are many people in our game who have been tirelessly supporting our players to not only play the games, but to be as safe as possible.
TO OUR MEDICAL EXPERTS
The 2020 season was possible because of our experts’ willingness to get creative and apply their medical expertise to a completely new and rapidly evolving situation. I would especially like to call out NFLPA Medical Director Dr. Thom Mayer, NFL Chief Medical Officer Dr. Allen Sills and their respective staffs. We continue to receive input and consultation from experts all across the country and they continue to guide us as more is learned about how to keep our players safe.
TO THE TEAM INFECTION CONTROL OFFICERS AND FOOTBALL OPS DEPARTMENTS.
It’s one thing to design a detailed, research-backed plan for how to play football in a pandemic. It’s an entirely different beast to execute it on the ground. Over the summer, each team moved quickly to transform their facilities and assemble a staff to oversee COVID protocol enforcement. As we learned more about how to prevent COVID transmission, they adapted and implemented new safety measures. The training staffs and football ops departments of each team turned an audacious plan into reality, and I’m grateful knowing that they are looking out for us at every step of the way. A special thanks to the staff of the Cleveland Browns who have made my teammates, my family and me feel as safe as possible.
TO THE NFLPA LEADERSHIP
I’m thankful for the leadership displayed by our Executive Committee and our reps. This year has demanded a different level of engagement and dedication from our player leaders and staff. We have all come together to discuss tough issues and have worked together to deliver time and time again. I’m incredibly proud of the way our EC and reps have educated themselves and their teams, communicated their concerns and proposals, and advocated for new safety measures as we learned more about how to create the safest possible work environment.
TO THE PLAYERS, COACHES AND STAFFS
I’m a creature of habit, and I like the routine I’ve established for each phase of the football season. I know a lot of other players, coaches, and staff operate the same way. That’s why I’m so impressed by the ways you all have embraced the changes that were required to play this season. We’d never ordinarily choose to make these adjustments, but your effort to put the best interest of the people in your building above your own desire to spend time with family and friends, go on vacation during your bye week, or do normal things in your day-to-day life is a “season-changer.”
TO OUR HEALTHCARE WORKERS NATIONWIDE
We are surrounded by this virus. Back in the spring, our country was seeing 30,000 daily cases. We are now seeing 180,000 daily cases. The strain on our healthcare workers is unthinkable, yet they continue to head into hospitals, clinics and centers to help people suffering with this awful virus. We know, though, that what they need more than our thanks in this moment is for all of us to take this virus seriously, wear masks, keep our physical distance and change our behavior to bring virus transmission under control. This Thanksgiving, many of us have made tough decisions about doing things differently - I know I have - and it is because we have to put the proverbial team first.
More transmission in our communities inevitably means a greater risk of transmission into our facilities and the numbers don’t lie: more than 50 percent of player positives since August 1 have come in the past month. Every member of the NFL family has played a part in getting us to this point. And every member of the NFL family will need to play an even bigger part in helping us to finish this season. We do have a long road ahead before the finish line, but it is important to pause this Thanksgiving to convey a heartfelt thank you for the sacrifices made to this point as well as in advance of what will need to be done to make it to the Super Bowl.
- JC Tretter