The NFL still hasn’t released their re-opening plan for players to return to facilities amidst the coronavirus pandemic. The league has already allowed front office personnel and coaches to return, but no players who aren’t receiving rehabilitation services have been permitted in team facilities.
This has many wondering what the protocol will look like when camps are slated to begin on July 28th. The plan to re-open is supposed to be unveiled in early July, but the NFLPA is trying to get ahead and advise players on how to remain diligent and remain healthy.
Just last week the player’s association advised players to stop workouts with teammates and fellow players to limit potential exposure to the virus. What happened were high profile players, like Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady, posting workouts on his social media talking about not living in a state of fear.
Brady wasn’t the only player who didn’t heed the advice of the NFLPA, and the union wanted to make it clear how serious they were about moving forward in a safe way. If the players weren’t willing to listen to the union, maybe they would listen to their agents?
In a memo sent to all agents, per Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network, the NFLPA wanted those who negotiate player contracts to convey a very important message this offseason. Here is a bit of what the memo directed agents to do:
“to provide each of your clients with important risk factor information provided by the Centers for Disease Control . . . and by mid-July, you must engage each of your clients in a conversation about the vital importance of carefully reviewing this information with their personal physician,”
In other words, the union wants players to understand they can’t lean solely on their individual organizations to have their best interests at heart. Read the material given, and speak to your personal physician.
“We want each player to be fully informed about his personal medical information as he makes decisions about returning to play in the league and throughout the course of the season; proactive engagement in this matter will help players achieve that goal,” the memo stated.
There is a strong chance the NFL will have an opt-out policy in place, like other professional sports leagues have done, and if a player deems they are at high risk, or don’t want to take the risk, they can simply not play. Major League Baseball saw their first instance of a player opting out Monday, and this could also ring true for the NFL. The biggest difference between MLB and the NFL are the guaranteed contracts. In the NFL you have to play to get paid, and that will likely sway players to suit up rather than sit out.
No matter how you slice it, the NFLPA is adamant about getting their players educated and prepared before they return to work, whether they follow their guidance is anything but certain.