Had it not been for the NFLPA's executive committee, three of the NFL's Week 15 games would have been canceled instead of postponed. The cancellation of those games would have resulted in more than 18% of the league's players not getting paid that week, according to Browns center and NFLPA president JC Tretter.
The Browns were one of six teams in jeopardy of having their Week 15 game canceled due to the recent spike in COVID-19 cases. The Browns-Raiders game was pushed back to Monday evening, while the Rams-Seahawks and Football Team-Eagles games were moved to Tuesday.
"The issue wasn't about how many guys we got back," Tretter said on Wednesday, via Cleveland.com's May Kay Cabot. "Our position as a union is that we fight for wages, benefits, and working conditions. … The NFL's position last week was that those three games were going to be canceled. They weren't going to be played, and if they weren't played, than nobody on either team was going to be paid. 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. Our position was that we needed to make sure all games are played in order for our guys to get paid. And that was our position."
With so many players at risk of not getting paid, the NFLPA's executive committee voted unanimously to postpone the games as opposed to cancel them.
"We pushed the league for that resolution," Tretter said.
The NFL informed teams prior to the start of the season that games could be forfeited in the event that an outbreak caused by unvaccinated players would lead to a cancellation. But given the rise of the new Omicron variant, many players and coaches who have tested positive in recent weeks have been vaccinated. The recent outbreak within the league led the NFL to revamp its COVID-19 protocols. The new guidelines include less testing for vaccinated players and changes in the return-to-play protocols that make it easier for a player to return to practice and games.
While 18 games have been rescheduled over the past two seasons, no NFL games have been canceled, thanks in large part to Tretter and the rest of the NFLPA's executive committee.