Panthers’ Tre Boston questions timing of NFL training camps amid COVID-19 pandemic: ‘How can we start?’

Watch Now: Expectations for NFL Camps to Start on Time (2:44)

Tre Boston is just one of many NFL players who demand answers from the league ahead of training camp, but it’s unknown when the Carolina Panthers safety will get the ones he’s hoping for. Time is rapidly ticking away as the league and NFLPA attempt to get everything figured out in order for training camps to begin on time in late July, but it feels like things are moving in the opposite direction as COVID-19 spikes shatter records around the country. As recently as early June, both sides appeared on equal footing when releasing a memo detailing mandatory coronavirus prevention protocols for teams, but the relationship has taken a sour turn for the second time this year — the first being during the exceedingly contentious negotiation of the new collective bargaining agreement. 

The latest rift sees the two sides squaring off on multiple points yet again, from player safety to revenue qualms. In attempting to give players more time to acclimate ahead of the scheduled September start to the season, the NFL shortened the preseason by two games, but that’s not something the NFLPA signed off on. Instead, the latter unanimously voted to scrap the 2020 preseason altogether, but that proposal was met with a rebuttal that was less of a counteroffer and more of an echo of the first proposition.

And, in a move the union views as a proverbial twisting of the knife, the NFL wants to hold 35 percent of players’ salaries in escrow this coming season as a means of helping to soften the blow from likely lost revenue caused by the absence of fans in stadiums.

“Basically, we told them to kick rocks,” said NFLPA executive Don Davis on a recent conference call with players regarding the escrow proposal, via NFL Network. 

If you’re keeping score at home, that makes two poignant issues the NFL and NFLPA vehemently disagree on, and only a couple weeks or so from the scheduled start of camp.

“Well, yet another NFLPA call and still 1,000 unanswered questions!” Boston wrote on Twitter, lamenting the lack of resolutions and the reemergence of a rift between the union and the league. “Rookies report in 11 days — vets [in] 21! Please tell me how we’re getting info on time to get acclimated??? States are closing but we have to move our families to these states and play. 

“Make it make sense! How can we start?”

Again, Boston’s confusion is one shared by many around the league, including teams themselves. 

As it stands, the NFLPA is dug-in on a longer acclimation period that leaves no room for a preseason, and they’re outright refusing to accept an escrow plan when the CBA allows for any revenue loss to be spread across the salary cap over the next decade. It remains to be seen if the NFL will eventually bend on one point or the other, or neither, but every day that passes without the two sides coming to terms is another that threatens a timely start of not only training camp, but of the regular season as well.

They agree on the safety protocols, but not much more, and that’s a problem.

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