NFL teams pay athletes millions of dollars a year to risk crushing hits from 285-pound defensive tackles, but under a new policy, any player who risks exposing himself to the microscopic virus that causes COVID-19 faces potential fines and discipline.
Specifically, ESPN’s Dan Graziano reports: “Players were told weeks ago on a conference call with NFLPA leadership that they could face discipline, including fines, for conduct detrimental to the team if they are found to have contracted COVID-19 through reckless activity away from the facility. This weekend’s memo reinforces that and says that such activity could allow a team to challenge the status of a COVID-19 diagnosis as a football injury.”
Players continue to be paid while recovering from football-related injuries but are not always paid if they’re unable to practice or play because of an injury deemed to be non-football-related.
The memo sent to players reportedly listed a number of activities considered high risk, including going to an indoor nightclub or an indoor bar with more than 15 people (except to pick up food) house parties with more than 15 people and an indoor church service with more than 25 percent of the venue’s capacity.
The memo comes shortly after Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Disease, said a limited resumption of professional sports could make sense under the right circumstances.
In the world of baseball, while fans wait for shouts of “play ball,” some are finding unorthodox ways to engage in America’s pastime, streaming games and in one case, begging to be let into a stadium. Teams are playing without fans, but most people seem to feel a weird baseball season is better than no baseball season at all.