Press Conference

JC Tretter: 'I'm always there' to help rookie O-linemen Jedrick Wills Jr., Nick Harris

On reaching out to the rookie offensive linemen after they were drafted:

"That is my role. My role is to help the guys in the room, make sure they are comfortable and make sure they know they have guys looking out for them, will can be an asset for them and will help them with whatever they need. I wanted to first off congratulate them. It is a big day to be drafted and make sure they understood how big of an accomplishment that was, and then just make myself available to them if they ever need anything. Obviously, it is a weird time with everything being virtual so it is not that normal move from college to the pros. There is a lot of grey area, and they do not know what they should or should not be doing at this point. Just make myself available to them."

On if will do everything possible to assist C Nick Harris and take Harris under his wing:

"Yeah, I am always going to answer questions. I have been doing that for years when anybody has questions about the way I see the game or the way I play. I am always available to answer questions."

On what needs to happen for NFL players to feel comfortable related to coronavirus when returning to work:

"Our priority is always going to be the health and safety of the players. Usually when you say that, it is things that will happen on the field. Obviously, that takes a new meaning with everything going on now where you talk about the health and safety of the players is you are talking about their own personal health. That is always going to be the top priority for us. There is probably not one, two or five things. There is a long list of hurdles we have to get over and things we have to watch and check. We just continually seek out information to be informed. This virus is constantly changing and the information you are getting is constantly changing. We have stayed really up to date with everything and made sure that we are always looking through the lens of how do we keep our players safe and healthy, as well as their families."

The Browns' 2020 regular-season schedule has been released. Check out how the season unfolds with this photo gallery

On the progress of the NFL and NFLPA conversations to determine when players can return, whether that is for minicamp in June or training camps in July:

"I think it is still a ways out. Every place has not opened up quite yet. Obviously, the buildings are just starting to open up for non-football staff. I do not think we are there at this point. I think we continually just keep looking at what new information comes out. In the end, we just have to make good decisions and safe decisions. Again, this is constantly changing. That is what we continually see. Now, as new areas open up and more people leave quarantine, we will be able to see what is going on and we will get more data points for that. We have the, I guess what you could call an advantage of we still have time before our season is projected to start. A lot of the other leagues are trying to figure this our right now and trying to piece it together, and we still have time. I would not say we are at the point where we need to make an agreement. We are going to keep sitting back and making sure we make the right decisions for our players."

On if he is following NFL updates about the virus on a daily basis, including a recent report about testing prototypes of modified facemasks that might contain surgical or N95 material:

"Yeah. I think there are no bad ideas at this point. You kind of have to think outside the box. Just because it is an idea does not mean things are definitely going to happen, but you need to explore it and you need to understand it. That is one thing with everything that is going on is you have to focus on fitting football inside of this world of coronavirus and not get caught up in trying to fit coronavirus inside of this world. There are two different ways of looking at it. The way coronavirus has changed how every industry is working, you can't expect just to throw football back in and think that the virus is going to kneel down to football. You have to look through different ways of making sure people stay healthy. There are going to be new ideas and it is probably going to look a little different this year, making sure people stay healthy."

On how he is interacting with new Browns offensive linemen:

"This is [the rookies] first week in the meetings with us. We have our Zoom meetings as an offensive line, but a lot of it is different now. This will be my first year going through a virtual program. Usually, you have those times one on one in the facility where you have some downtime to get to know guys, and you just do not have that now. A lot of it is getting used to it obviously there. They went through rookie minicamp last weekend, and now into this week, a lot of it is just being there for when they need something or when they have a question and letting them get their feet under themselves as they just jump and get thrown right in to this virtual offseason."

On the report about testing prototypes of modified facemasks that might contain surgical or N95 material and if he has seen a prototype:

"I have not seen any of the prototypes. I have obviously heard about it. Again, I think you explore every idea possible. You try to come up with new, unique ideas with the emphasis of player safety and making sure we are just really thoughtful in how we are going to be able to do this, if we can."

On if the NFLPA has discussed how to address players returning who have preexisting medical conditions:

"Absolutely. Obviously, the emphasis is always on the elderly population and the effects of the virus, but there are a lot of people with underlying conditions inside our league. People see professional athletes as these kind of invincible robots where they are always in the best shape and there is no kind of chink in their armor, but that is not really the case. There are a lot of guys with underlying conditions and problems that we have to look out for. That is something we are always trying to keep top of mind."

On his path to becoming NFLPA president and if he served as a student council executive in middle school or high school:

"I was not middle school student council president (laughter). We will dispel that right away. I was not an elected official in high school either, but I always wanted to get more involved. Obviously, I studied [labor relations] in college so I had a background in it. As I have become more comfortable with my day job of being a professional football player and what it takes to prepare and be ready and the time it takes, as I have gotten older, I have wanted to get more and more involved, especially coming from that background and being interested in that in college. I probably officially made the decision I was going to run for president right after the season and then put a lot of time in researching and making sure I knew all about the topics and issues. We had the election at our rep meetings. You have to give a five to 10-minute speech. Then you go around to five or six rooms, you have 20 minutes of questions and answers with different teams in each room and then they vote. It was honestly a really cool experience. It is an honor to be elected by your peers for anything, but this is a role that I am passionate about. Just being able to help the current players and look after them, as well as the guys who are going to come after us and the guys who came before us is something I am really interested in." 

On if the NFL and NFLPA will need to discuss financial matters if the season is shortened, given current MLB and MLBPA conversations on finances:

"There will have to be conversations and negotiations over it. It is laid out in our CBA. That will be something we will have to come to when we get there. I still think it is a long time out. We see what the world looked like two and a half months ago and how much it has changed in two and a half months. We still have kind of two, two and a half months until we have to have these things laid out. There is still a lot of time. A lot of things can change. We just have to follow it, make sure we are always having the conversations and be ready for whenever that conversation has to happen."

On his 'level of optimism' about playing the full season and if he has considered how games may be different if fans are not able to attend:

"I wouldn't say I can put a percentage on it or on a level of [optimism]. I have really tried to live in two-week increments, and getting the virtual offseason negotiations done and a good plan in place has been really important for us. That way, we have a plan set for all of our players through June 26. A lot of guys [had questions], and all of those questions have been answered and guys know what they have to do and what their job looks like on a day-to-day basis through then. That has been good to get that done and out of the way and give everybody a little peace of mind. Obviously, there will be another step in trying to figure out the season, training camp and all of that. Those still have to come about. Like I said, I have been trying to live in kind of two-week increments because the information is ever-changing and ever-evolving. That is the thing about this disease is it is a novel, emerging disease. That means it is constantly changing, it is brand new and we are continuing to learn about it. You can't really look that far ahead because a lot of new information can come out, and there is really no reason to live in a lot of different hypotheticals or else I feel like you kind of get paralyzed in those hypotheticals, where you keep going down different rabbit holes and you kind of lose track of the now. I have been trying to live in two-week increments."

On what the NFLPA is looking for related to safety measures and coronavirus prior to players returning to facilities and practice fields:

"There are a lot of things. Like we talked about, we have guys with pre-existing [medical] conditions. Obviously, testing is going to have to be really important to this. There just needs to be a plan, and there are a lot of questions that have to be answered. Anytime you kind of come up with an answer, five or six questions pop up from that answer. It is an ever-evolving conversation, and there is really not just a short list of 'We need these five things.' This is a contact disease and we play a contact sport. The way this thing passes along is through contact, and that is what we do for a living. The way we interact with each other at the facility, at practice, weight lifting and at the meal room, it is us shoulder-to-shoulder standing by each other and passing things around. There is a long list of ideas we need to come up with to make this environment safe for us. That is why there is going to be a lot of thinking involved in it. That is why we have conversations and calls, and we are looking at it every day. That is kind of the issue we are facing is this is a contact disease and we play a contact sport."

On the status and depth of conversations as it relates to clarifying safety elements related to COVID-19:

"I think we just continually brainstorm. You hear about the [face]mask, and these are all just ideas people come up with trying to think of how we mitigate exposure a little bit. How do we create better practices to keep people safe and keep people healthy? What have we become so used to in our facilities and as football players and what do we have to retrain ourselves to have a better idea and a better understanding to live in this world of coronavirus for the time being? Every day, the conversation continually grows, you continue to talk and you continue to think, but there is really not an endpoint in sight. People are always coming up with new thoughts. 'Have you thought about this issue that we will face?' Then you try to brainstorm ideas around how we mitigate that."

On if players have expressed concern about the return to team facilities and resuming team activities related to a contact sport as the league looks to resume football operations:

"That is why we are here. That is why we have a union. We have been trying to keep people up to date. We have been having almost biweekly calls opened up to all players and their wives to allow everybody to ask questions and to make sure they feel good about where we are, not just in the world of football but also in just regular life. 'What would you advise me to wear to the grocery store? What should I be thinking of this? I saw this on the news – is that true?' We have our doctors on there, and that way we are giving everybody the information from a source that they can trust and that way there is not that kind of nervousness or worry about what is coming down the pipeline. We have been trying to keep everybody up to date, to answer any questions that may come up and make sure we are over communicating at this point because this is kind of a new world and a new issue that guys have a lot of questions about."

On QB Baker Mayfield and teammates holding individual workouts in Austin and if there are restrictions for what those players can do, as well as how does the Browns offensive line work to build chemistry within the offense as teams cannot practice together:

"On our weekly calls, Thursday been opened up to be kind of 'player only' [calls]. Special teams meet and the rest of the guys who aren't on special teams can sit in a Zoom call and just do what you would have done if you were sitting in the locker room – talk, chat and go over plays. Baker will run us through different things, and we will talk through our calls and do all that, but a lot of it is just a chance to get to know each other and see each other's personalities. We have a lot of new additions. That will be something that will be different, just like the rookies. The interaction with rookies is a little bit different than previous years, but trying to find ways just to get to know people as human beings, what their families are like, how are they doing and where are they living. All of that stuff is important so we kind of have that built that into our program, allowing the players to take the lead and go through plays, as well as just be guys and be guys in the locker room, just virtually."

On if the NFLPA has come to a point where it knows there will be some risk assumed when resuming team activities and that 'it will not be 100 percent safe' when teams return:

"There is a level of risk of everything. You are facing a level of risk right now going to the grocery store. There is always going to be a level of exposure that people are going to face in this. I don't think we will ever get to a point where there is no risk of exposure. Again, coming in contact with other people is a risk of exposure. That is never going to be down to zero. Our job is to get that to as close to zero as possible. That is why you kind of have to look at everything, and every little thing that you can find a little dip and fix one issue decreases the level of exposure you will face. That is why the conversations are so long and there are so many ideas, thoughts and reevaluations of 'Do we have to do this? Who has to be present?' Everything is being talked about. Again, anytime you leave your house at this point, you have accepted a level of exposure, and then it is just trying to mitigate that as much as possible."

On the Browns acquiring Ts Jack Conklin and Jedrick Wills Jr.:

"Jedrick has been great. He seems like a really bright kid. He seems to just be excited to work. I have spoken a bunch to Jack. It is nice to have another veteran in the room who has been extremely experienced and one who has had a lot of individual success. He has been a great addition, too, of just being able to step in and pick up the system. I think he is kind of built for it. He has been a great guy, too, just to put in the room and another great personality. He kind of fits right in."

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