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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

When the pandemic arrived and upended the world, the NFL was the only major American sports league with the luxury of time.

The big picture: The clock has now run out and on the eve of training camp, it's still remarkably unclear what the preseason and regular season will look like, particularly in regards to health and safety.

Driving the news: In a coordinated Twitter blitz on Sunday, NFL stars used the hashtag #WeWantToPlay to express their concern — publicly — about the lack of detailed health and safety protocols as rookies begin arriving at camp.

  • Russell Wilson: "I am concerned. My wife is pregnant. NFL training camp is about to start. And there's still no clear plan on player health & family safety. We want to play football but we also want to protect our loved ones."
  • J.J. Watt tweeted a list of what players do and don't know. "We still do not know if there will be daily testing," he wrote. "We still do not know if there will be preseason games ... We still do not know how a positive COVID test will be handled in regards to others in close contact."

The state of play: The NFL sent a league-wide memo on Saturday confirming that rookies will report to camp on Monday and Tuesday. QBs and injured players report Thursday, while all other players are scheduled to arrive next Tuesday, July 28.

  • The NFLPA wants daily testing, no preseason games and a 45-day "ramp-up" period (21 days of strength and conditioning, 10 days of non-padded practices and 14 days of "contact acclimation").
  • The NFL still wants two preseason games and hasn't agreed to the "ramp-up" period. Under the collective bargaining agreement, the league has the right to impose report dates and teams can fine players if they don't show up.

What's next: The #WeWantToPlay blitz sets the stage for the NFLPA to file a grievance over unsafe working conditions if the union hasn't signed off on protocols by the time players show up at camp.

  • What happens with rookies this week will determine next steps, but the union is prepared to file, a source told ESPN's Jeremy Fowler, and that will buy players time to try to finalize terms before veterans arrive next week.

The bottom line: One could blame the NFL and NFLPA for remaining so far apart despite a four-month head start. One could also blame America's botched coronavirus response, which rendered that head start virtually worthless.

Go deeper

Oct 27, 2020 - World

Putin mandates face masks as Russia combats second COVID-19 wave

Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photo: Alexei Druzhinin/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday instituted a nationwide mask mandate, as the nation tries to combat a second spike of COVID-19 cases, according to an order published by Rospotrebnadzor, the federal health watchdog agency.

By the numbers: Russia currently has the fourth-most coronavirus cases in the world, with 1,537,142, according to Johns Hopkins data, behind the U.S., India and Brazil. Russia has reported 26,092 deaths to date.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Most COVID-19 survivors can weather risk of reinfection, study says — "Twindemic" averted as flu reports plummet amid coronavirus crisis
  2. Vaccine: Employers mull COVID vaccine requirements — New data reignites the debate over coronavirus vaccine strategyPfizer begins study on 3rd vaccine dose as booster shot against new strains.
  3. Economy: What's really going on with the labor market.
  4. Local: All adult Minnesotans will likely be eligible for COVID-19 vaccine by summer — Another wealthy Florida community receives special access to COVID-19 vaccine.
  5. Sports: Poll weighs impact of athlete vaccination.
18 mins ago - Health

FDA advisory panel endorses Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine for emergency use

Photo: Illustration by Cezary Kowalski/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Friday recommended the authorization of Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot coronavirus vaccine for emergency use.

Why it matters: The FDA is expected to make a final decision within days on the J&J vaccine, which was found to be 66% effective against moderate to severe COVID. An emergency use authorization would allow distribution to immediately begin, helping streamline and speed up the vaccine rollout across the U.S.