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NFL Players Association not happy with league’s proposed wristband policy

The Cleveland Browns opted not to adopt the NFL's wristband policy at training camp.
The Cleveland Browns opted not to adopt the NFL's wristband policy at training camp.Tony Dejak/Associated Press

Cleveland Browns center and NFLPA President JC Tretter feels the NFL is trying to shame players by urging teams to require vaccinated and unvaccinated players to wear different colored wristbands.

He called the idea “nonsensical.”

Tretter, who took office last year as the COVID-19 pandemic was in its early stages, said Thursday he’s thankful the Browns didn’t adopt the wristband policy and he blasted the league for some other measures.

Tretter said it’s easy to identify who isn’t vaccinated because those choosing not to get the shots are required to wear masks and follow other protocols.

“They say they need a differentiator between unvaccinated and vaccinated players, we already have a differentiator,” Tretter said. “The unvaccinated players need to wear masks. No other sports leagues use any sort of scarlet marking or helmet decal or wristband because they know it’s not necessary and the teams know who’s vaccinated and not vaccinated.”

But the NFL explains the wristband policy is designed to help the club or the league more easily identify if a player who is not vaccinated was not wearing a mask.

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In a memo sent earlier this month to the 32 franchises, the league noted that several teams had inquired about best practices for monitoring protocol compliance at the facility, particularly given the protocol modifications for fully vaccinated individuals.

“Please note that beginning at the start of training camp,” the memo said, “clubs will be required to develop a method to visually identify fully vaccinated Tier 1 and Tier 2 individuals. We recommend utilizing color coded wristbands or credentials, however, clubs are free to implement other methods.”

Tier 1 and Tier 2 covers team personnel who have direct contact with players.

Tretter feels the league wanted to guilt players into getting the vaccine.

Cleveland Browns center and NFLPA President JC Tretter isn't crazy about the league's proposal.
Cleveland Browns center and NFLPA President JC Tretter isn't crazy about the league's proposal.David Dermer/Associated Press

“So what it really comes down to is the NFL wanted to put a policy in place to try to shame unvaccinated players publicly about their status and make that known to everybody on the field, and that shouldn’t be the case because it’s unnecessary,” he said. “We all know who’s vaccinated, who’s not and it doesn’t need to be a scarlet marking on peoples’ helmets or wrists.”

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Tretter was previously critical about the league recently issuing a memo telling teams that if there is a virus outbreak among unvaccinated players, games will be forfeited and players will not be paid. The NFLPA said when that policy was announced that “the same basic rules applied last year.”

“The only difference this year is the NFL’s decision to impose additional penalties on clubs which are responsible for the outbreak and the availability of proven vaccines,” the NFLPA told its members in an email. “The protocols we jointly agreed to helped get us through a full season last year without missing game checks and are effective, when followed.”

Tretter said with cases increasing in some areas around the country due to the Delta variant, it’s essential for the league and union to cooperate.

“Last year it wasn’t perfect, but we worked well together because we needed to and because we needed everybody to buy in and do the right things in order to get through a season,” Tretter said. “This year, this is not going to be easy again. We’re going to need to really rely on a lot of things we did last year and that continues with meeting the protocols but also the way we worked together.

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“We don’t want to lose checks, we want to keep people healthy, they don’t want to lose revenue and they want to keep people healthy. So we have the same goals, it’s about executing that.”

Rodgers, Packers rework contract

According to reports, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers have agreed to terms on the MVP quarterback’s reworked deal.

Aaron Rodgers and the Packers have come to terms on a new contract for the quarterback.
Aaron Rodgers and the Packers have come to terms on a new contract for the quarterback.Matt Ludtke/Associated Press

Rodgers joined the Packers for training camp this week after skipping the team’s organized team activities and mandatory minicamp. He noted Wednesday he’d like more input in the team’s decision-making process.

Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst was straightforward Thursday in saying the team acquired veteran receiver Randall Cobb from the Texans for an undisclosed draft pick because Rodgers wanted him. The Packers have added both Cobb and offensive tackle Dennis Kelly since opening camp Wednesday.

“Obviously without Aaron, I don’t think we would probably be pursuing that, but he’s still a really good player,” Gutekunst said of Cobb, who played alongside Rodgers for eight seasons in Green Bay and earned Pro Bowl honors in 2014. “Seeing him last night just kind of reminded me of what kind of impact he’ll have in our locker room for our football team. This is a very important thing for Aaron, and that’s why we did it.”

Gutekunst added that the move probably wouldn’t have been possible “without Aaron adjusting his contract and kicking some money out.”

Even as he said this, Gutekunst noted that he isn’t relinquishing control over any personnel decisions. Gutekunst said Rodgers always has been part of those conversations and the difference this year is in how they incorporate his input.

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Washington narrows list for new name

Washington Football Team President Jason Wright said the organization has significantly trimmed the list of potential team names, with the unveiling expected before the 2022 NFL Draft.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Wright said Washington is trying to be transparent with the rebranding process. He declined to reveal how many names were still under consideration.

“We have them narrowed down substantially,” Wright told The AP. “So, there’s a small set of names that have been crafted into full visuals and logos and all that stuff that we’re going back and forth on.”

The Washington Football Team is the official name for a second consecutive season after the club abandoned its old moniker last July. Wright, who was hired in August, has said the new name will not have any Native American connotations or imagery.

Wright has blogged about choosing a name that honors the franchise’s history, which includes three Super Bowl titles. Asked directly if a name had already been selected, he said, “I don’t want to scoop our team.”

Jets sign rookie QB Wilson

After missing the first two practices of training camp, rookie quarterback Zach Wilson arrived at the Jets’ team facility Thursday afternoon and inked his fully guaranteed four-year, $35.15 million rookie contract. The deal for Wilson, the No. 2 overall pick in the NFL draft in April, includes a signing bonus of $22.9 million, and has a fifth-year team option. Offset language in the contract was among the issues that caused a hang-up. That practice, shared by most NFL teams, provides clubs with financial protection if they release the player before the end of a contract. The payout timing of Wilson’s signing bonus was another sticking point. NFL Network and ESPN reported the sides compromised with Wilson receiving his entire signing bonus within 15 days — instead of after this season — and the team keeping its offset language … The Falcons placed defensive end-outside linebacker Dante Fowler Jr. on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Coach Arthur Smith would not say whether Fowler tested positive for the novel coronavirus. The team previously this week placed tight end Lee Smith, offensive lineman Willie Wright, defensive tackle John Atkins, and defensive end Kobe Jones on the reserve/COVID-19 list … Jake Butt, the once-promising tight end whose career was waylaid by six knee operations, announced his retirement, saying he could no longer hide the fact that he’d lost his passion for the game he loves. Butt had signed a one-year deal with the Bears last month after four star-crossed seasons with the Broncos … The NFL Players Association expanded its agreement with RealResponse to allow for reporting of all issues, including drug policy infractions and social injustice concerns. The players’ union previously joined RealResponse to communicate COVID-19 health and safety questions. It updated that arrangement to include anonymously and securely reporting any and all issues regarding player health and safety, misconduct, hazing, harassment, and more. RealResponse is an anonymous reporting platform for athletic teams, organizations, and over 50,000 athletes. Its partners include USA Gymnastics and more than 100 universities.

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