CLEVELAND (AP)One union took precedence when Browns center JC Tretter considered whether to play in 2020 – his growing family.
The NFLPA’s new president, who has spent the past few months fighting to make sure players are protected from the COVID-19 virus, carefully weighed the risks of contracting it as his wife, Anna, waits to give birth to the couple’s first child.
For Tretter, the choice came down to feeling safe.
”Everybody has their own unique circumstances and need to kind of sort through the information and gather more information, and then just make the best decision on what they feel most comfortable with.” he said.
On Wednesday, Tretter said he’s been satisfied with the NFL’s protocols and guidelines for the coronavirus to this point, but that he’ll push for daily testing during training camp as the league moves slowly toward the start of the season.
Tretter feels players being tested every day would eliminate some of the lag time in getting results that has led to problems during Major League’s Baseball’s start to the season.
As part of their agreement to open camps, the league and players decided testing would be done on a daily basis for the first two weeks of camp and revert to every other day so long as teams kept their positive rates low.
Tretter said those standards ”are not set in stone” and feels there’s a need for more stringent testing.
”Throughout this there are going to be constant needs to evolve and change and make decisions that are best to keep the game moving forward,” he said on a video call. ”We will continue to learn from our errors, other leagues’ errors and I think that’s something (daily testing) we need to look at and something we need to push.”
Tretter praised the Browns for re-purposing their training facility in order to ensure the safest possible work environment for him and his teammates.
”It is like a new building,” he said of the team’s Berea, Ohio, headquarters. ”They have done everything you could possibly think of. Walking through there, there is nothing I can look at and say, `Well, maybe they could have did this.’ They have done a great job.”
The Browns have had four players – including three offensive linemen – opt out of the season due to concerns about getting the virus. The 29-year-old Tretter made the decision to prepare for his seventh season as a pro after consulting with medical experts to make sure he wasn’t endangering his wife.
”I’m staying at the hotel now, just want to make sure everything’s running properly and there’s no outbreak and I’ll stay here until I feel comfortable going back to my house,” he said. ”That’s definitely part of it. I think everybody has their own unique circumstances and they need to sort through the information and then gather more information and make the best decision they feel more comfortable with.”
It’s still too early to know whether the NFL’s plan to combat the virus will work. Over the next few weeks, Tretter said it’s going to be vital for players, coaches, staff members to remain vigilant, especially once they’ve left their team’s ”bubble.”
”Guys can’t get lax,” he said. ”Everybody in the building can’t relax on the protocols or relax on making the right decisions at the facility and away from the facility. Everybody has realized that it is different. The facility is different. What you have to do at the facility is different. Just making sure guys continue to buy in and understand that this is for the best.”
It’s been quite an early presidency for Tretter, who couldn’t have imagined handling aspects of a pandemic while learning Cleveland’s new offense under first-year coach Kevin Stefanski. Tretter doesn’t regret running for the office and has embraced the chance to make a meaningful impact.
”I have really enjoyed the work,” he said. ”It is something I have been passionate about for a long time. It is something I went to school for. So it is something I have always been interested in. Obviously it has been a busy offseason but it has been a really great time kind of fighting for the players and trying to provide them as best of a workplace as possible.”
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