NFL teams are beginning voluntary offseason workouts ahead of the upcoming season, but there is one team that will not take part. Players from the Denver Broncos announced that they are skipping the workouts. They cited the COVID-19 guidelines as the reason.
The NFLPA released a statement on behalf of the Broncos players on Tuesday, explaining the decision to skip the volunteer workouts. "Playing in the NFL is a dream of our players who work tirelessly year-round to perform in America's greatest game," the statement said. "With offseason programs starting in less than a week and without adequate protocols in place for us players to return safely, we will be exercising our right to not participate in voluntary offseason workouts.
"COVID-19 remains a serious threat to our families and to our communities, and it makes no sense for us as players to put ourselves at risk during this dead period," the statement continued. "Positivity rates in our city are higher than they were at this time last year and we know players have been infected at club facilities in recent weeks."
The statement ended with the players saying that the quality of play in 2020 was better by "almost every measure" after an almost entirely virtual offseason. The Broncos players expressed hope that their peers did the work to get all of the facts and make informed decisions.
Following the statement on behalf of the Broncos, NFLPA executive director De Smith and union president J.C Tretter addressed the players. They continued to push for a virtual offseason, following the trend set in 2020. The men expressed the opinion that this strategy would provide the "best chance" to complete a full NFL season in 2021.
According to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, the league's last proposal was to hold virtual offseason workouts for the first two weeks before switching to in-person. The union countered with a desire to have everything prior to the start of training camp be virtual. The list of workouts includes mandatory minicamps.
There are several questions about how the league will proceed toward the 2021 season after one in which several players opted out and games took place in front of mostly empty stadiums. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has expressed the opinion that the league is planning for full capacity. It is unclear if the league will accomplish this goal, but Erie County (New York) Executive Mark Poloncarz announced on Tuesday that the Buffalo Bills will have a packed stadium for the season. However, he noted that these fans will have to show a vaccine passport to gain entry.