The NFL and NFLPA have been at it for weeks regarding the implementation of emergency-scenario training camps amid the COVID-19 pandemic. But the NFL may believe finalizing negotiations will not be necessary. The league does not believe it is obligated to negotiate with players about safety protocols in camps, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk notes, adding that the basis for the NFL’s argument is the 11-year CBA deal ratified in March. That is one argument to make, though the league backing out of talks and sending players into the fray without sufficient coronavirus-era protocols would create significant backlash that would further damage the parties’ relationship.
Here is the latest from the pandemic front:
- The NFL recently released testing protocols, which feature different return-to-work barriers for symptomatic and asymptomatic players. For an asymptomatic player to return to action after a positive coronavirus test, he must wait five days and test negative twice within a 24-hour span to return to his team, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com notes (on Twitter). For players showing symptoms, at least 10 days must pass since those symptoms first emerged. Players must consult with a team physician, the NFL chief medical officer and the CDC’s Incident Command System before being permitted to return.
- Players’ family members, and anyone else who lives with players during the season, will also be tested, Pelissero adds (video link). The NFLPA has floated the prospect of fines for players not adhering to social-distancing policies when away from team facilities. Restrictions on players’ actions when away from their teams are not fully known, but it is clear they will not have normal non-football routines this year.
- No opt-out policy has surfaced yet, but that will be one of this process’ key dominoes. The NFLPA wants the league to give all players the option to opt out of this season and have their contracts toll to 2021, Albert Breer of SI.com notes. The NFL will need to first address players who are at higher risk of encountering severe complications from the virus. Major League Baseball gave those players both pay and service time. No NFLer has made it known he will opt out yet, but based on some decisions coming out of the NBA and MLB, teams can expect some players to opt out.
- The Ivy League will announce Wednesday its plans for the fall semester. Multiple football coaches within the league informed The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman and Nicole Auerbach the expectation is the country’s premier academic conference will play football in spring 2021 (subscription required). Various non-Ivy League athletic directors anticipate the conference’s announcement to have a significant effect on fall sports. These ADs expect the Power 5 conferences to have a decision by early August. College football moving to the spring would obviously have a tremendous effect on the sport, though the NFL is not currently entertaining the notion of changing its 2021 draft date.