Last night, the NFLPA held a conference call with player reps and NFLPA medical director Thom Mayer to discuss safety protocols and other issues relating to how training camp and the season will proceed. Dan Graziano of ESPN.com has a comprehensive report on the call, and some of the most relevant highlights are as follows:
- Mayer opened the call by updating everyone on the virus in general, with a reminder that African American males are especially susceptible and that false negatives are a legitimate concern. As such, any player that tests positive would need to test negative twice before being allowed to return to action.
- Players could face fines for engaging in “reckless” behavior away from team facilities, such as eating out in restaurants and using ride-sharing services.
- Players will not stay in hotels during training camp, but instead will commute from their homes each day.
- Mayer provided updates on the development of face shields, though some on the call were opposed to the shields, believing that they would be detrimental to their vision and their breathing.
- Some confusion was expressed as to why the league is trying to move forward at all given how dangerous COVID-19 is. Some unanswered questions that players want resolved include what will happen to their contracts if they elect not to play, what will happen to the 2021 salary cap, and what will happen if they initially agree to play but then grow uncomfortable as the season wears on.
- Media access will be limited.
- Most meetings will be conducted virtually.
- The current plan is to test players and team personnel every other day during camp, but players are pushing for daily testing.
There is another call scheduled for today that will be open to all players, not just player reps. As Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk points out, the league and the union need to quickly come to terms on what will essentially be a one-season labor agreement in order to preserve the 2020 campaign. If that does not happen, a “non-traditional” work stoppage could certainly be in the offing.
Florio’s sources say that players are expected to have the right to opt out of the 2020 season, and if they do so, they would be forfeiting their base salary but not their bonuses. They would also not face any fines. However, it is still unclear how many players would take avail themselves of their opt out rights and how many would press on.
Indeed, while some states have experienced a decline in positive tests, numbers across the country are still going up, which was not supposed to happen. In an appearance on SiriusXM NFL Radio yesterday (h/t Florio), Dr. Anthony Fauci opined that the disturbing resurgence of the pandemic has put the NFL season completely in flux.