Political Views Aside, Most Saints Fans Support Players in Public Opinion Battle vs. NFL

(Photo Credit: Gerald Herbert)

With the coronavirus / COVID-19 health-crisis continuing to spread rapidly throughout the continental Unites States of America at an alarming rate, several key players for the New Orleans Saints yesterday voiced their concerns over what they feel has been a lack of serious effort on the part of the NFL to keep them safe once they report to Training Camp and began preparing for the upcoming 2020 Regular Season.

While some Saints fans / Who Dats believe the effects of the virus are being exaggerated, one thing seems to be clear after yesterday’s events — which is that a majority of them totally agree with the players — and political views aside, feel that the NFL should do their best to guarantee their safety so that there can be football this year in spite of what might still be yet to come.

Essentially, an overwhelming majority of NFL players aren’t convinced at all that the new COVID-19 standards set forth by the League up to this point, have been sufficient enough to assure their safety and well-being. Rookies are due to report tomorrow morning (July 21st), and veterans are scheduled to report the following week (Tuesday, July 28th) at the League’s 32 team Training Camps.

But then yesterday a wide variety of NFL stars — including several Saints players led most notably by QB Drew Brees — took to the popular Social Media website Twitter in a well-coordinated effort, to urge League officials to listen to its own medical experts’ guidelines; on the best way to safely opening Training Camps throughout all 32 NFL cities amid the coronavirus pandemic.

As a way to draw further attention to their efforts. many of those very same players used the hashtag #WeWantToPlay to accompany their tweets.

The idea for the tweets originally was thought of by Miami Dolphins cornerback Byron Jones, who suggested the idea on one of the players’ internal planning calls Sunday, according to a report by ESPN NFL “insider” Dan Graziano.

Graziano noted that Jones’ idea was to get the message out to the general public (and NFL fans in particular) that the players want to play, but that they want the teams to make sure it’s as safe as possible; and that it wasn’t about players just looking out for their money or not wanting to show up for camp.

The NFLPA told ESPN that players weren’t specifically instructed to tweet, but that the union was “involved, to make sure [the tweets] were [on] factual grounds” regarding negotiations.

And leading the way for the NFLPA’s effort were several NFL superstars, most notably Drew Brees.

Photo Credit: Michael C. Hebert / New Orleans Saints on YouTube.com

Brees was one of the first players and biggest-name stars to do so (along with Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes and Seahawks QB Russell Wilson) and stressed that if the League failed to implement more effective protocols, that the 2020 Season would be in jeopardy of being cancelled.

We need Football! We need sports! We need hope! The NFL’s unwillingness to follow the recommendations of their own medical experts will prevent that. If the NFL doesn’t do their part to keep players healthy there is no football in 2020. It’s that simple. Get it done.

As it turned out however, Brees wasn’t the only big-name Saints star to put his thoughts on the matter into the mix of various player tweets.

Saints All-Pro WR Michael Thomas urged NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to follow the example of NBA pro basketball commissioner Adam Silver to bring football back safely.

Photo courtesy of the New Orleans Saints, YouTube

“If Adam Silver can respect the voices and protect his NBA players why can’t @nflcommish do the same? Listen to your players,” Thomas tweeted.

Along with Brees and Thomas. a handful of other Saints players joined in on the fun, and additional tweets by players representing the Black and Gold were made by offensive left tackle Terron Armstead, linebacker Demario Davis, safety Malcolm Jenkins, and defensive end Marcus Davenport.

Shortly thereafter, Players Association president (and Cleveland Browns center) JC Tretter tweeted: “What you are seeing today is our guys standing up for each other and for the work their union leadership has done to keep everyone as safe as possible. The NFL needs to listen to our union and adopt the experts’ recommendations #wewanttoplay”

The NFLPA then through one of its representatives, said that Tretter’s tweet would serve as its official public statement and their official ‘stance’ on the entire matter.

Actually, the whole effort to draw attention to the players’ concerns initially was inspired by Houston Texans All-Pro defensive end and former League MVP J.J. Watt, who was the first player to tweet his concerns a few days earlier this past Thursday.

Yesterday, he tweeted an updated list of what players do and don’t know, with all of the League’s players set to report to their respective team’s training facilities at the end of this month.

The coronavirus is not only just a health issue, but as most Saints fans certainly are well-aware, it’s become a political issue as well; and there are those who feel that despite the scientific evidence to the contrary, that the impact of the pandemic upon American society and culture, has been greatly exaggerated.

Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images North America/TNS

That much was clearly evident once again yesterday, based on some of the rather jaw-dropping responses by so-called fans of the team, on Brees’ tweet (such as these right below).

However, not all Saints fans believe that the effects of the virus are being exaggerated; and based upon an informal poll for Big Easy Magazine that I conducted on my own Twitter page yesterday, it would seem that a majority of Who Dats are supportive of the players in their efforts in what basically is a public opinion battle vs. the NFL.

Nearly 75% — or 3 out of every 4 of the Saints fans that have responded as of this morning (you can click HERE to vote) — voted that the Saints and the rest of the NFL players League-wide, should NOT play this coming season if the League fails to implement more stringent or effective protocols.

Those numbers would seem to suggest that a majority of Saints fans DO in fact support player safety over playing the games in an unsafe environment, even if it means that they wouldn’t get to see the Black and Gold play this season.

That said, the expectation as of now is that the League and the NFLPA will in fact reach a deal, and the season should go on to be played as planned, albeit most likely in EMPTY stadiums across the nation.

Photo Credit: Michael Thomas on Twitter (Original Credit via San Gardener)

But if you’re a Saints fan that simply just wants nothing else but to have some sense of “normalcy” which usually always includes watching the Black and Gold play in the fall every year, then there really isn’t any debate to be had about it, regardless of how you might actually feel about it emotionally.

Based on the responses of those fans that are among the most loyal members throughout the entire “Who Dat Nation’, most Saints fans support the players in their public opinion battle vs. the NFL — political views aside….

Barry Hirstius is a semi-retired journalist, who has worked previously as a sports editor and columnist. Barry is a New Orleans native who grew up as a fan of the Saints while attending their games as a young boy during the early 1970’s, uptown at the old Tulane Stadium. He is also the proud Grandfather of two beautiful young girls, Jasmine and Serenity. Follow him on Twitter: @BarryHirstius

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