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NFL players plead with league to address health concerns ahead of training camp

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (pictured) and Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt were the first players to question whether the NFL is ready to return. Last week, the duo said many players are unaware of the health and safety protocols. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/2aaed665db8e304a95fdb635c4aabfee/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (pictured) and Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt were the first players to question whether the NFL is ready to return. Last week, the duo said many players are unaware of the health and safety protocols. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

July 19 (UPI) -- A large group of NFL players took to social media Sunday in a coordinated effort to urge the league to listen to its experts' guidelines on safely opening training camps during the coronavirus pandemic.

Many of the players -- including Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett and Atlanta Falcons running back Todd Gurley -- used the hashtag "#WeWantToPlay" in their tweets.

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"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," NFL Players Association president J.C. Tretter wrote on Twitter. "The NFL needs to listen to our union and adopt the experts' recommendations #WeWantToPlay."

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The players' collective response came after the NFL informed teams Saturday that training camps will open on time even though discussions with the union about coronavirus testing and other health and safety protocols are ongoing.

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The idea for the social media blitz came from Miami Dolphins cornerback Byron Jones, according to ESPN. Jones' plan was done to let the public know that players want to safely play and it isn't about their money or not wanting to show up for camp.

"I am concerned. My wife is pregnant. @NFL training camp is about to start," Wilson wrote on Twitter. "And there's still no clear plan on player health and family safety. We want to play football but we also want to protect our loved ones #WeWantToPlay."

Garrett was among those who said there won't be a 2020 season if the NFL doesn't "do their part to keep players healthy."

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"If the NFL doesn't do their part to keep players healthy there is no football in 2020," Garrett wrote. "It's that simple #WeWantToPlay."

Houston Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt and Kansas City Chiefs star quarterback Patrick Mahomes were the first players to publicly question whether the NFL is ready to return. Last week, the duo said many players don't know the details about safety protocols for training camps amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

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"Stuff is crazy, man," Mahomes tweeted Thursday. "All this time we had and now we are down to this."

On Sunday, Watt posted an updated list of what players do and don't know with players set to report this month.

Rookies for the Texans and Chiefs -- the teams scheduled to play the Thursday night regular-season opener on Sept. 10 -- are set to report Monday. Players for all teams are scheduled to report by July 28.

According to the collective bargaining agreement, players who don't report to training camp could be subject to fines, forfeiture of salary and bonuses and the loss of an accrued season.

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