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NFL forbids post-game jersey swap as part of COVID-19 measures

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Atlanta Falcons
One of the best receivers in the game swaps jerseys with Julio Jones.
Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

In gridiron football, physical distancing is not possible. There’s bump-and-run coverage, intense battles in the trenches between the offensive and defensive lines, gang tackling, big piles of humanity on top of one another trying to recover a fumble, and so much more that involves person-to-person contact.

Doesn’t sound like the type of sport that’s all that safe to play when you can’t assure that everyone and everything on the field is completely free of COVID-19, is it?

And yet, the NFL does still plan to keep its regular season schedule intact and start on September as usual. Don’t worry, though! There will be some tweaks to help minimize the risk of COVID-19 without disrupting actual normal in-game play. For example, those jersey swaps that are common across all sports when players meet up with each other post-game? That’s been zapped for 2020.

After three hours of constant contact with other athletes — much of it intentional — the interactions cease the moment the clock hits triple zeroes. I suppose the post-game stuff is unnecessary or non-essential contact, as if this virus is capable of discerning the difference.

Deshaun Watson and Richard Sherman provided instant reactions that probably speak for many other players who received this news.

For some other notable COVID protocols the NFL is implementing, media won’t be in the locker room, the teams can only go to the stadium on a bus, and there are mask requirements but only for non-players and non-coaches on the bench.