Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields Call for Players’ Union in #WeWantToPlay Message
Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press
Two of the biggest names in all of college football called for a players’ union Sunday night in the face of significant uncertainty regarding whether there will be a 2020 season amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence and Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields, who would both be on the short list of Heisman Trophy contenders and national title contenders if there is a season, took to Twitter with a list of demands.
Among those demands was the right to “use our voices to establish open communication and trust between players and officials; ultimately create a college football players association.”
The list also included the desire for universal health and safety procedures for all conferences as teams fight against COVID-19 and guaranteed eligibility for players even if they opt out of taking the field during the pandemic.
Clemson running back Darien Rencher explained he and Lawrence met with representatives of every Power Five conference via Zoom to take “a step toward one collective voice.”
This comes after Pac-12 athletes came together with a #WeAreUnited message that was posted on the Players’ Tribune. The players threatened to sit out if officials did not meet their demands, including addressing systemic racism in collegiate sports and society and providing clear COVID-19 safety measures.
The message also called for the ability for athletes to make money through name, image and likeness rights.
Elsewhere, Big Ten football players released a “Big Ten Unity Proposal” through the Players’ Tribune asking for more oversight and transparency about the handling of COVID-19, more COVID-19 tests and stricter enforcement of potential violations of protocol.
Lawrence’s latest tweet comes after he pleaded for there to be a college football season by pointing out the sport provides safety for many players who otherwise would not have it amid the pandemic:
The 2020 season is very much in the air after the MAC announced Saturday that it postponed all fall sports until the spring. The Big Ten also announced that “all institutions will remain in the first two days of the acclimatization period in football (i.e., helmets shall be the only piece of protective equipment student-athletes may wear).”
There have also been a number of ominous reports, including one from Pat Forde and Ross Dellenger of Sports Illustrated that said “high-level conference meetings are being planned for this week across the college football landscape with the expected resolution of postponing fall sports until 2021.”
One source told Brett McMurphy of Stadium: “College football season is done. I don’t think everyone immediately follows MAC, but it gives other league presidents one more reason to make an easier decision. Biggest thing is unknown long-term impact of COVID and liability issues involved.”
Heather Dinich, Adam Rittenberg, Mark Schlabach, Chris Low and Andrea Adelson of ESPN reported Big Ten presidents were “ready to pull the plug on its fall sports season” and were looking for other Power Five conference leaders to “fall in line with them.”
It is clear that some of the sport’s biggest players want to take the field, though, and Lawrence and Fields are among those using their voices to fight for a season and much more.