The NFL and the players’ association came to an agreement Friday for a plan to play its season amid the coronavirus pandemic. Included in the league’s new protocol is a clause that reportedly could prevent players from being paid if they contract the coronavirus through activities that are deemed “high-risk.”
Details are being finalized regarding how players might be disciplined for testing positive for COVID-19 after participating in reckless behavior, according to ESPN. Spending time at an indoor house party, nightclub or entertainment event with more than 15 people could be considered high-risk, according to a memo sent to NFL players.
Going to an indoor restaurant with more than 15 people, other than to pick up food, and attending an indoor religious service at a venue with more than 25% capacity also makes the list.
Teams could challenge a player’s COVID-19 diagnosis as a football injury, per ESPN’s report. Teams have the option of not paying players that are on the non-football injury list.
NFL COVID rules: “High risk conduct” not only can result in discipline, but also could allow team to challenge the status of the player’s COVID diagnosis as a football injury. If challenge succeeds, presumably team could put player on NFI list and not have to pay him. pic.twitter.com/3gtKQ3F3PO
— Dan Graziano (@DanGrazianoESPN) July 26, 2020
The NFL’s agreement also detailed plans for players that choose to skip the season because of coronavirus concerns. Players that opt-out of the season will get a stipend of $150,000 that is considered a salary advance on future pay. If a player is thought to be at increased risk of the coronavirus, they will get a $350,000 stipend, which isn’t part of future salary.
The memo notes 15 conditions, including moderate-to-severe asthma, sickle cell disease, and Type 2 diabetes, that could qualify a player as being at increased risk, according to ESPN.
The annual Hall of Fame Game and all four weeks of the preseason have already been canceled.
The NFL doesn’t plan to keep its players in one central location, which the NBA, WNBA and MLS have all implemented.
Major League Baseball has started without a bubble environment. Multiple games have been canceled less than a week into the season after 40% of the Miami Marlins’ roster reportedly tested positive for COVID-19.