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.
NFL teams will be forbidden from postgame interactions within 6 feet of each other and jersey exchanges between players will be prohibited during the 2020 season, sources say.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) July 9, 2020
Another way the NFL will look different in the COVID-19 world.
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.
Then explain to me why are they allowing us to play at all? The other 4 quarters don’t matter.. I don’t understand so help me sir. https://t.co/LQDcLvKiYs— Deshaun Watson (@deshaunwatson) July 9, 2020
This is a perfect example of NFL thinking in a nutshell. Players can go engage in a full contact game and do it safely. However, it is deemed unsafe for them to exchange jerseys after said game. https://t.co/fWefsUSVDc— Richard Sherman (@RSherman_25) July 9, 2020
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.
The ban on postgame jersey exchanges was included in NFL-NFLPA game-day protocols that clubs received last night. Other notable changes for 2020:— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) July 9, 2020
- On-field fan seating is prohibited.
- Both teams must travel to the stadium via bus.
- Media will be banned from the locker room. https://t.co/WizWrySFvU
Other game day protocols: Coaches and players won’t be required to wear masks on the sidelines. Everyone else in the bench does have to wear a mask. https://t.co/ovKPcCwaD9— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) July 9, 2020
ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL?!!