As NFL teams buckle up for a season that will hinge on the league remaining safe from COVID-19, the NFL Players Association is reportedly setting up its own hotline for players to report team safety violations.
Players will be able to text the number while remaining anonymous, allowing the union to file grievances on the behalf of the players, according to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo.
The NFLPA today sent players a phone number for them to report NFL teams’ violations of the agreed upon COVID-19 protocols, sources say. Players can text the number but they will remain anonymous. The union can file a grievance on players’ behalves for perceived violations.
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) August 5, 2020
Such a system is already in use in the NBA, which created the “snitch line” for players to use to report violations they see in the Disney World bubble. Where this system differs, however, is that it is set up by the union rather than the league. Instead of players reporting violations by other players (e.g. Dwight Howard not wearing a mask), the system is instead meant to prevent teams from surreptitiously ducking COVID-19 precautions.
The use of that kind of hotline might have been best demonstrated at the college level, where Colorado State coaches have been accused of pressuring players to not report coronavirus systems. You can imagine the NFLPA doesn’t want to see something similar happen to its players.
Some NFL teams have their own snitch line
The NFLPA line isn’t the lone number players can report COVID-19 violations, as Yahoo Sports’ Charles Robinson reported Monday that a few teams have set up their own “COVID help line” for employees to report breaches of protocol.
Such hotlines apparently haven’t been warmly received, with concerns about anonymity playing a major part:
Asked if they would consider calling it, the employee laughed and said, “Hell, no. I’m not calling that thing. I doubt anyone will ever call it. It’s supposed to be anonymous, but I wouldn’t take that chance.”
Another employee said they have been instructed to report protocol issues but given no structure for how to do it.
“We were told that if we see something that we should say something,” the employee said. “But I don’t even know how that’s supposed to work. I don’t even know who I’m supposed to tell.”
We’ll see if players feel any better about calling their own union.
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