The Miami Dolphins can open their doors to players starting Monday. Few, if any, will walk through them.
Dolphins players announced late Friday that they are boycotting the team’s voluntary offseason program, joining a growing number of athletes choosing to skip spring football over health and safety concerns.
Dolphins players announced that decision in a statement distributed by the players union:
“Our team came together to discuss the current situation regarding COVID-19 and the lack of clear and timely protocols put into place by the NFL. The most significant fact from the discussion was the health and safety benefits of a fully virtual offseason. Last year, league-wide injury data showed players experienced a 23 percent reduction in missed time.
“For these reasons, the Miami Dolphins stand in solidarity with players across the league who are making informed decisions to exercise their right not to attend voluntary in-person workouts this offseason. We will hold each other accountable in making sure every player is getting their work in. Fins Up!”
The Dolphins became the 14th locker room to announce that it will largely or completely boycott the voluntary portion of the program.
The coordinated push is intended to convince the league to end the offseason program, which was unpopular long before COVID-19.
Teams like it because they get eight more weeks of in-house work with their players. But when the entire program went virtual due the pandemic, the NFLPA saw an opening to make the change permanent.
Just a small percentage of the two-month program is spent in actual 11-on-11 practice.
Players who participate will not spend much, if any, time in team headquarters for the first four weeks of the regimen.
The first phase will be limited to virtual meetings with no on-field drills or work with coaches. During this time, clubs are “to make every effort to have the vaccine available for players, staff and families,” the NFL wrote.
From May 17 to May 21, the league will allow some on-field drills with coaches, but the meetings will remain virtual.
That leads up to the four-week third phase, which features 10 days of OTA practices and the mandatory minicamp. Meetings are allowed to be in-person at that time, but teams can choose to continue holding them remotely.
Those who skip the mandatory minicamp, should teams decide to still hold them, will be subject to a fine.