In my first column, I wrote about the importance of unity among our members. We can only accomplish that by establishing and reinforcing trust. Trust is something that is earned, day in and day out, through proactive communication and transparency. At this year’s Rep Meeting, a major point of discussion focused on the CBA negotiation process and the NFLPA’s strategy for communicating with and informing players. We’ve taken that feedback and would like to share more about our process in negotiating the recently passed virtual offseason program.

Our top priority for a virtual offseason program was maintaining the protections that you as players have under the CBA in a normal offseason. These include giving the option to earn your normal offseason pay as well as the individually negotiated clauses within your contracts. For two weeks, our Executive Committee and staff worked together on designing a virtual program that provided the proper structure and protections for all of our members. We held two Executive Committee calls and one call with the Board of Representatives during the negotiating process to make sure our player leaders were heard and their concerns were addressed.

After two full weeks of negotiating, we held a final Executive Committee call to review the entire proposal, which resulted in a unanimous vote in favor of accepting the proposal. We held a call with our Board of Player Representatives immediately after, where we went through the same process of reviewing the proposal and, once again, held a vote that ended unanimously in favor of our plan.

The deal provides a pathway for you to earn weekly checks, bonuses and other individually negotiated payments from your contracts. For teams requiring a workout, it grants injury protection away from the facility; and for those who are still pending team physicals due to COVID-19, you will receive additional safeguards. We negotiated these items while maintaining the normal amount of required time that goes into a typical offseason program.

Our work was not done after ratification. A continual focus of mine will be on making sure we do everything we can as a union to inform and educate all of our members, especially when there have been changes to our work rules. After the vote, we worked to get the information out to all players and agents, which included sending a fact sheet, FAQ sheet and holding an open call to field additional questions.

When I ran for President, I spoke about the importance of two principles: unity and trust. I do not expect those ideals from anyone blindly; instead, it is our job to earn your trust and unite our union through our actions each and every day. It is my goal for all of our members, including our new rookie class, to know that your union is committed to protecting your rights, fighting hard for your interests and welcoming new ideas and perspectives. You are all part of a larger family with a responsibility to look after each other. The NFLPA plays a very important role in your career, and we encourage you to be in touch with us and hold us accountable to those standards every step of the way.

The Former Players Corner

Former player issues remain top of mind at the NFLPA. It’s been said that we are all former players – just not yet, for some of us. Each month, I’ll include important updates on issues impacting our former player population in this section called “The Former Players Corner.”

In the 2020 CBA, we hit an important milestone for former player benefits. More than 4,400 former NFL players received their collectively bargained Health Reimbursement Account of $50,000 in April. This is an achievement we can be proud of. But in order to fulfill our obligation to all of our members, we also know that we have a responsibility to review issues where we have fallen short. That’s why members of our Executive Committee and former player leadership will come together in the near future to reexamine the changes to Total and Permanent Disability negotiated in the new CBA.

- JC Tretter
NFLPA President