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NFLPA VP Sam Acho: NFL needs to get COVID-19 plan in place

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

NFLPA vice president and former Arizona Cardinal Sam Acho says the league needs take serious steps in providing its players with the proper safety protocols amid the coronavirus pandemic.

With only a day until rookies report to training camp, Acho and the players union have been left in the dark about any sort of plan, the former linebacker told 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s Doug & Wolf Show on Monday.

“We’ve given our proposal … some of it they’ve listened to, a lot of it they’ve ignored,” Acho said. “And so now hopefully they would come back to the table and say, ‘Hey let’s negotiate, let’s come up with a plan to make sure you guys are healthy when the season starts.'”

Acho’s comments on the league’s safety protocol come following a weekend social media movement in which numerous players, including Cardinals DeAndre Hopkins and Kyler Murray, voiced their displeasure with the NFL’s lack of a plan so close to play resuming with #WeWantToPlay.

Just before Acho joined Doug & Wolf, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported NFL and owners were meeting to finalize health and safety measures, financial arrangements, and reducing or eliminating preseason games.

“The biggest message that was said over the weekend in the #WeWantToPlay initiative is the reality that we really do want to play. I think it’s as simple as that,” Acho said.

“Players want to play football, it’s as simple as that. We want to play in a safe environment, an environment that we’re going to make sure we aren’t spreading Covid, we’re not getting Covid or at least minimizing that risk.”

One way to do that, Acho says, is from listening to the experts and doctors recommended by the joint committee of the NFL and NFLPA, who have given recommendations on a safe back-to-work protocol.

“Teams need to come up with an IDER plan, its stands for Infectious Disease Emergency Response plan, we’ve been asking for that from the NFL for months and they haven’t given them,” Acho said. “There’s one team now, the Kansas City Chiefs, finally came up with their IDER plan.

“That’s the plan that says if X then Y. If an outbreak occurs this is going to be our plan for either canceling games or suspending games or pausing the season. We don’t have that yet, and so the players are simply asking for a plan in case of an outbreak.”

But until the plans are officially implemented across the league, any semblance of a preseason remains in doubt, as the risks far outweigh the positives for Acho and the NFLPA.

“From a player’s perspective, there are some players that want a preseason game, and also from a coach’s perspective and even owners and general managers,” Acho said.

“They want that preseason game as well to evaluate talent, but the sticking point is, if you play a preseason game and now there’s an outbreak in Covid, will the season get delayed? Will part of the season get canceled? Is it worth the risk? And a lot of us don’t think it is.”


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