MINNEAPOLIS - The National Football League’s offseason workout program was slated to start Monday, but practices facilities across the league were largely quiet and empty.
The Minnesota Vikings were the latest team to announce they’re not attending in-person, voluntary workouts at TCO Performance Center as the league and player’s association remain at odds over COVID-19 health and safety protocols. Several NFL teams are doing the same, including the Chicago Bears and the Detroit Lions in the NFC North Division.
Vikings players on Monday released a statement through the NFLPA.
"We have some together as a team and many of us have decided to exercise our right to not attend in-person, voluntary workouts. Given the ongoing threat of COVID-19 and the inadequate safety procedures recommended by the NFL, this is the safest path forward for us and our families. This decision was also informed by the dramatic drop in injuries we saw during the 2020 season.
We are committed as a team to holding each other accountable to ensure everyone is working out and participating in the virtual off-season. We understand that some players will go into the facility for different reasons, but feel strongly, as a unit, about putting our overall health and safety first," the statement reads.
NFL teams and players had to adjust their entire off-season plan in 2020 after there was no rookie minicamp, no organized team activities, a modified training camp and no preseason due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Vikings were among several NFL teams to not have fans at U.S. Bank Stadium for any regular season home games last year.
With the NFL Draft starting on April 29, it remains to be seen what the NFL off-season will look like. The Vikings have the No. 14 overall pick, and it’s a critical year after the team is coming off a 7-9 and missing the NFC Playoffs.