November 29, 2021

Browns center and NFLPA president JC Tretter still urging daily COVID-19 testing for vaccinated players with –

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Browns center JC Tretter, president of the NFLPA, issued a stern warning Tuesday that all NFL players should be tested for COVID-19 daily — either vaccinated or unvaccinated — or risk not getting through a full NFL season amid the ongoing pandemic and raging Delta variant.

Currently, unvaccinated players are tested every day, and vaccinated players are tested once every seven days — recently changed from once every two weeks at the start of the season.

The NFL is opposed to daily testing for vaccinated players and staff members who work closely with players, and has only agreed so far to the once-a-week cadence. But according to Tretter — and a few vaccinated players such as the Cardinals Justin Pugh who have tested positive — once a week isn’t good enough.

They don’t believe it’s safe or effective, and have the numbers to back up their claims. In fact, Tretter states unequivocally that the league is in ‘a worse spot’ than last year because of the lack of daily for testing for all, and has been calling for it since at least Aug. 5th.

“Clubs have been instructed to test fully vaccinated players and staff over the course of three days each week,’’ Tretter wrote on the NFLPA website. “This then leaves 4-6 days where we don’t know if a vaccinated individual is positive for COVID and shedding virus to those around him. If that happens — as we have seen it happen repeatedly during training camp — it could lead to these two bad scenarios:

“Scenario 1: For up to six days, the virus spreads throughout the facility with no one knowing. When it gets to the following Monday, the team resumes testing and 10+ players and staff test positive. Those 10+ people now are in doubt for the following game. Some may be able to get cleared before, but some won’t; and that team will be missing key players.

Scenario 2: An individual becomes symptomatic on a Friday, which causes additional testing of high-risk close contacts (HRCCs). We find a cluster of positives, which wipes out multiple players a day before the game.’’

Tretter stressed that the league has seen significantly more incidents of transmission inside the building this year than last year, including an outbreak among the highly-vaccinated Titans.

“Transmission within our building is what kills us,’’ he wrote. “When we don’t have our finger on the pulse of what’s going on inside our buildings, we set ourselves up for failure,’’ Tretter wrote. “We’ve seen scenarios like these happen multiple times over the last month. Recently, Tennessee finished up with 14 positives – and the team was 97% vaccinated at that time. It’s not hard to realize how devastating that would be during a week of the regular season. Yet, incidents like this have flown under the radar because players missing training camp practices or preseason games isn’t big news. That will not be the case moving forward and a few teams are already without, or at risk of being without, key starters heading into this opening weekend.

“A weekly testing cadence doesn’t just increase the likelihood that the games suffer because players are missing from the field; it also increases the likelihood of a game being cancelled altogether. If a game gets cancelled, nobody gets paid – including the owners – for the revenues lost from that game. The players lose out, the fans lose out, and the owners lose out. It’s the worst-case scenario that we should all be actively working to avoid – and the fact that we aren’t continues to be a source of frustration for our union.

“We are all tired. No one likes that this is the world we are living in still this season. No one likes mitigation methods. But we cannot do what is easy over what is right. We cannot do what is cheaper over what is right. We have been warned by our experts that, because of our current testing cadence, we are at more risk of missed games this season than last season. If we continue to go down this path, I need everyone in the football community to be aware of what lies ahead.’’

Tretter and the union call for daily testing of vaccinated players, as well as the unvaccinated

Already this week, vaccinated players such as Cowboys starting left tackle Zack Martin could miss the opener against the Bucs after testing positive, and a fully-vaccinated Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu hasn’t been activated for the Browns game after testing positive last week. Pugh, the Cardinals’ fully-vaccinated guard, called for daily testing for all last month after testing positive when they were still on the once-every-14-days cadence.

“Hey @NFL we need daily testing for vaccinated and non-vaccinated players,” he tweeted then. “I was vaccinated and still got covid. As of now vaccinated players test every 14 days. That’s not enough! Who knows how long I walked around the building with it or whoever I got it from! Fix this ASAP”

NFL Teams also had to sweat out covid testing this week after players had a mandatory three-day break. Unvaccinated players had to remain in town and be tested every day, while vaccinated players were permitted to enjoy the long weekend. But teams feared they’ve have some positive tests heading into opening weekend. Unvaccinated players who test positive must quarantine for 10 days, while vaccinated players can return to the field after two negative tests in a 24-hour period.

The Browns have about 90% of their players vaccinated, and only second-round linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah has been placed on COVID-19 reserve since training camp began.

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