Cleveland Browns center J.C. Tretter said Tuesday that the coronavirus is not going to "kneel down to almighty football," and that as the new president of the NFL Players Association, his foremost priority "is always going to be the health and safety of the players" as the NFL prepares for the upcoming season amid a global pandemic.
"There's a long list of hurdles we have to get over and things we have to watch and check," Tretter said on a Zoom call with reporters, when asked about what needs to happen for players to feel comfortable returning to the practice field. "We just continually seek out information to be informed. This virus is constantly changing and the information you're getting is constantly changing. So we've stayed really up-to-date with everything and made sure we're always looking through the lens of how we keep players safe, as well as their families."
Tretter was elected president of the NFLPA in March, ahead of the players ratifying the new collective bargaining agreement. He said Tuesday that the union is holding biweekly calls with players and their wives to address any concerns and keep them informed.
"This is a contact disease and we play a contact sport," Tretter said. "People see professional athletes as these invincible robots, but that's not really the case. There are a lot of guys with underlying conditions and problems we have to look out for."
Tretter said he is aware that NFL engineers and sports equipment company Oakley are testing prototypes for modified facemasks that might contain surgical or N95 material, as ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Tuesday, but he had yet to see any prototypes. Either way, Tretter said "there's no bad idea at this point" when it comes to protecting players.
"There are going to be new ideas," he said. "And [the season] is probably going to look a little different this year making sure people stay healthy."
Tretter noted that while "testing is going to be really important" for a return, he isn't focused on any hypotheticals or contingency plans for the season yet, with more than four months to go before the NFL opener on Sept. 10.
"In the end, we just have to make good decisions and safe decisions," he said. "As more people leave quarantine, we'll be able to see what's going on and get more data points with that. We still have time before our season is projected to start. A lot of the other leagues are trying to figure this out right now and piece it together. We still have time. We're going to keep sitting back and make sure we make the right decision for our players."