The National Football League, which earns about $15 billion in revenue per season, still does not have a complete plan to deal with coronavirus even though the regular season is expected to start September 10.
Worse than that, there is an argument between the NFL and the NFLPA (NFL Players Association) on whether or not a coronavirus-related illness should be categorized as a non-football injury, per ESPN.
If coronavirus is considered a non-football injury, NFL teams would not have to pay its players if placed on the non-football injury list. A ludicrous idea considering the act of playing football puts you at risk of getting coronavirus.
“On a recent NFLPA call, players were told they could face discipline, including fines, if they were found to have contracted and spread the virus as a result of reckless behavior outside of the team facility, such as eating in restaurants or using rideshare services,” said ESPN.
Nonetheless, NFL stars JJ Watt, Patrick Mahomes, Richard Sherman, and many other NFL athletes on Twitter said the players still want to return to the field but they need answers on what the NFL’s plan is.
In the interest of having everyone on the same page in terms of what we know and don’t know at this time, here are a few things I’ve learned being on four NFLPA calls in the last two weeks with hundreds of other players.
Keep in mind our rookies are scheduled to report in 48 hrs pic.twitter.com/wAH1XyQenf
— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) July 16, 2020
The NFL has ignored the safety recommendations from the experts that THEY hired. We all love this game and want to go out and compete with our brothers. The NFL needs to provide a safe work environment for us to do that. #WeWantToPlay
— Richard Sherman (@RSherman_25) July 19, 2020
— Patrick Mahomes II (@PatrickMahomes) July 19, 2020
As the discussions currently stand, the NFL would not be enforcing a strict bubble like the NBA in Orlando. As such, family members could present a risk to NFL players and vice versa.
Las Vegas Raiders center Rodney Hudson voiced his concern on Instagram because his wife is immunocompromised.
— Levi Damien (@LeviDamien) July 19, 2020
ESPN’s Dan Graziano and Kevin Seifert took a deep dive into the issue as well providing a list of what they know about the start of the 2020 NFL regular season and what the league still has to figure out.
While a lot has been figured out, shown by Graziano and Seifert’s 14 point list, plenty remains to be solved before the NFL plays a game.
What we don’t know
- How does the league deal with the possibility of reduced revenue during the season? How does that impact team revenue and player salaries?
- Are there financial accommodations for players or employees who want to opt-out of the season for whatever reason?
- What will teams do if a large portion of the team tests positive?
- How will the league treat a positively tested player and when would such player be able to return? Would a team be able to sign a short-term replacement?
- How often will players be tested?
- How big will NFL rosters be?
- Will players be wearing masks, shields, or other items to limit the spread on the field?
- What happens when there are different state rules on gatherings of a large size and how does that impact fan attendance?
- If there isn’t testing before each practice, meeting, and game, what stops this scenario from happening:
- One player gets coronavirus and is asymptomatic and infects a large number of players on the team. Say 20 players tested positive on Wednesday but the team has to play a game on Sunday. How does the team field enough players for Sunday? And will the NFL product then suffer if teams are playing with a sizeable portion of players they just signed off the street? And then how do you get these players up to speed with limited face-to-face time?
If you are an athlete, it is not worth the risk of playing amid the coronavirus pandemic unless all safety precautions are taken. An athlete may not be at risk of dying, considering they are young and in very good shape, but no one fully understands the health impacts of coronavirus.
“Research now indicates that coronavirus is a multi-system disease that can damage not only the lungs, but the kidneys, liver, heart, brain and nervous system, skin and gastrointestinal tract,” said CNN.
All across Europe, there is a growing number of patients who are experiencing side effects that have lasted months.
Dr. Piero Clavario, director of the post-Covid rehab institute in Genoa, Italy, said of the 55 people visited by his team only eight didn’t need follow-up support while 50 percent had psychological problems and 15 percent had post-traumatic stress disorder, via CNN.
What happens if an athlete gets coronavirus and its lungs only work at 95 percent capacity, which isn’t completely out of the equation since the impact of the disease is unknown. If an athlete’s lungs only work at 95 percent capacity, it could completely alter the player’s career while not impacting the athlete’s day-to-day life.
NFL athletes should not be playing on the field this fall unless every one of their demands around player safety is met and they are fairly compensated for the risk they are taking by playing football in a pandemic.
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About Ryan Lipton
Ryan is a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill majoring in Business Journalism. He has written in the past for SB Nation’s Silver and Black Pride, USA Today Sports Media Group, North Carolina Business News Wire, the Daily Tar Heel, and has worked with Ice Cube’s BIG3 basketball league. Ryan is also a regular contributor to MeidasTouch.com
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