J.C. Tretter, NFL Players Association president and Cleveland Browns center, is defending the postponements due to COVID-19 outbreaks for the good of every team and not just his own.
Members of the Las Vegas Raiders questioned Tretter's motives over the weekend when their game at the Browns, who were experiencing an outbreak, was postponed from Saturday to Monday. They voiced displeasure with the change and wondered if Tretter had more weighted influence because of his status with the players union.
The NFL additionally postponed two more games due to COVID-19 outbreaks on the Los Angeles Rams and Washington Football Team. Tretter told reporters on Wednesday the league wanted to cancel those three games and as a result, none of the players would have received a paycheck that week.
Tretter defends postponement as good for all
The NFL told clubs ahead of training camp that it will not extend its season to accommodate an outbreak among unvaccinated players. If a game could not be rescheduled, the team with an outbreak would take the forfeit and a loss. Players on both teams would not be paid.
That's why Tretter pushed for the games to be moved back instead. He said the league was pushing to apply its protocols and cancel all three games.
"I was fighting for the same things for the Raiders players I was for the Browns players: to make sure everybody gets paid," Tretter told reporters, via Zac Jackson at The Athletic. "I don't think people realize how close those games were to being canceled."
Tretter: Union position is wages, not standings
Raiders players were upset that it was the Browns issue and they should take the forfeit as planned. There was also concern from them that Tretter was trying pushing the game to get key players back from protocols.
Tretter explained where the NFLPA executive committee was actually focused.
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"The issue wasn't about how many guys we got back," Tretter said. "Our position as a union is that we fight for wages, benefits and working conditions. And we don't worry about competitive balance, we don't worry about standings, we don't worry about roster composition.
"That's obviously an issue for us as a union when over 18% of our player population was at risk of not getting paid last week. So our position was that we needed to make sure all games are played in order for our guys to get paid."
Tretter said the executive committee voted unanimously to fight for postponements and get everyone paid.
The Raiders defeated the Browns and third-string quarterback Nick Mullens, 16-14, on Monday night in the postponed contest. Cleveland still had 18 players on the COVID-19/reserve list, including eight starters, and were without head coach Kevin Stefanski.