BEREA, Ohio — NFLPA president JC Tretter said the NFL was close to canceling three games this past weekend in the wake of multiple COVID-19 outbreaks among teams.
The league instead moved Saturday’s game between the Las Vegas Raiders and Browns in Cleveland to Monday, and rescheduled two Sunday games — Washington at the Philadelphia Eagles and Seattle Seahawks at Los Angeles Rams — to Tuesday.
Tretter, also Cleveland’s starting center, was asked Wednesday about criticism he received from Raiders players, notably by linebacker K.J. Wright and cornerback Casey Hayward Jr., for pushing to get the game rescheduled. On Friday, Hayward tweeted, “I’m sure the NFLPA president playing for the Browns didn’t have any effect on these negotiations.”
“I think the thing that people didn’t understand was I was fighting for the same thing for the Browns players as I was for the Raiders players, which was to get paid. … I don’t think everybody was fully aware of just how close those games were to being canceled,” Tretter said. “And I don’t think everybody was fully aware that, if canceled, they weren’t going to get paid. Both teams weren’t going to get paid.”
The Browns played Monday’s game against Las Vegas with 22 players on the COVID-19/reserve list, including 10 starters. The Raiders, who were largely unaffected by COVID-19 going into the game, prevailed 16-14.
Tretter said it was up to the league whether to count a canceled game as a forfeit. But he said he and the NFLPA were focused on making sure the players were paid for the week.
“I don’t worry about standings, I don’t worry about record, I don’t worry about those things as president,” Tretter said. “I worry about making sure our guys are paid, and that was my concern.”
The NFL declined comment on Tretter’s remarks when contacted by ESPN.