NFLPA president JC Tretter says NFL wanted to cancel games amid COVID outbreak

Tretter explained that his role in those decisions was about making sure players were paid

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A hectic week for the NFL amid a surge in COVID-19 cases could have been far worse after NFLPA president JC Tretter revealed Wednesday that the league had discussed canceling three games. 

The Cleveland Browns center defended the league’s decision to postpone Saturday’s game against the Las Vegas Raiders until Monday and Sunday’s matchups between Washington and Philadelphia and Seattle and Los Angeles to Tuesday after he was called out by Raiders players for supporting a game he was playing in to be rescheduled. 

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"I think the thing that people didn't understand was I was fighting for the same thing for the Browns players as I was for the Raiders players, which was to get paid," Tretter said, via ESPN. "I don't think everybody was fully aware of just how close those games were to being canceled." 

Las Vegas Raiders kicker Daniel Carlson (2) boots a winning 48-yard field goal during the second half of an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns, Monday, Dec. 20, 2021, in Cleveland. 

Las Vegas Raiders kicker Daniel Carlson (2) boots a winning 48-yard field goal during the second half of an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns, Monday, Dec. 20, 2021, in Cleveland.  (AP Photo/David Richard)

He continued: "They weren’t going to be played, and if they weren’t played then nobody on either team was going to be paid. That’s obviously an issue for us as a union. Over 18% of our player population was at risk of not getting paid last week. Our position was we need to make sure all games are played in order for our guys to get paid."

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The NFL said in a memo over the summer that the players on both teams could risk forfeiting game pay if a game was forced to be canceled "due to a COVID outbreak among non-vaccinated players."

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (1), center, runs for a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Washington Football Team, Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2021, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (1), center, runs for a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Washington Football Team, Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2021, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Two player reps told The Associated Press on Wednesday that canceling the games was never the No. 1 plan. NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy also told the outlet: "Our goal has been to play the season as scheduled in a safe, responsible way."

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Tretter explained that his role in those decisions was never about the Browns record but making sure the players were paid. 

Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp, top, catches a pass over Seattle Seahawks cornerback Sidney Jones during the second half of an NFL football game Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2021, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp, top, catches a pass over Seattle Seahawks cornerback Sidney Jones during the second half of an NFL football game Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2021, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

"I don't worry about standings, I don't worry about record, I don't worry about those things as president," Tretter said. "I worry about making sure our guys are paid, and that was my concern."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.