Will players go along with a Bio-Dome approach to playing games?

Getty Images

In a roundabout way, Dr. Anthony Fauci has legitimized the idea floated here a couple of weeks ago that the NFL could play its season by taking all teams to a remote location, conducting the games in empty stadiums or practice facilities, quarantining the players, and basically keeping everyone there for the duration of the season.

“Nobody comes to the stadium,” Dr. Fauci said. “Put them in big hotels, wherever you want to play . . . have them tested every week and make sure they don’t wind up infecting each other or their family and just let them play the season out.”

That’s a very encouraging explanation from Fauci, but like so many other things related to this pandemic, every answer leads to more questions. And here’s the biggest question associated with the prospect of quarantining players by putting them in “big hotels”: What if they don’t want to do that?

Any dramatic change to working conditions will trigger for the NFL a duty to bargain with the NFL Players Association, which may not be willing or able to enter into a blanket commitment to making its constituents a captive workforce, with the season becoming, essentially, a four-month road trip. The end result could be that players will have the right to decide, one by one, whether they want to play — with the understanding that, if they choose not to play, they won’t receive their base salaries.

And maybe that should be the extent of the financial loss; fines or bonus forfeitures arguably shouldn’t apply in this situation. Every player should have the ability to make a decision as to whether he’s comfortable leaving his family and staying in a hotel for the duration of the season — unless his family is able and willing to join him.

It’s way too early to know how that would unfold, if players have the ability to tap out of a season played under team quarantine. Would Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson give up his $18 million base salary and the ability to play football this season? Would Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, whose base salary is only $1.55 million this year, pass on playing? (The fact that Rodgers would be potentially losing on $1.55 million suggests that the downside of not playing perhaps should be something other than base salary only, since Rodgers is making $32 million per year on average.)

Regardless, the Bio-Dome approach may sound good in theory, but it won’t be the easiest concept to sell to the individual players who either will be away from their families — or who will be sequestered in a hotel with their families — for the full football season.

10 responses to “Will players go along with a Bio-Dome approach to playing games?

  1. Last October Goodell called China a, quote, “priority market”. They could play games there.

  2. Players were already effectively locked in hotels leading up to games–it’s not like they were on vacation and touring the city all day long. Other than the COVID testing and the stands being empty things wouldn’t be all that different.

  3. What about all the logistical and support people necessary to stage a game? Is it just the players and those people quarantined? Are their families quarantined with them? Sounds pretty simple until you actually start thinking of the logistics of pulling it off.

  4. You would be asking thousands of people to essentially stay in a hotel and a stadium for 4-6 months. What about their families?

    Many of the players have huge mansions where they can isolate in luxury. Do you really think that they will agree to spend that much time in a hotel room? And the results of the games, especially the playoffs, will always be tainted.

    I want to see NFL action as much as everyone else, but that just won’t work.

  5. So the’re just kicking around ideas, but if there isn’t a season, why would players expect to get paid. This particular plan doesn’t sound appetizing, so these guys need to come up with some much better ones.

  6. The more this goes on the more trival and pointless football/baseball/hockey/basketball seems in the bigger scale of things. Once they figure out a vaccine however, attending football/baseball/hockey/basketball games will more popular than ever.

  7. How is the NFL going to get revenue doing this, again? Sorry folks, in the end it’s about $$ and the NFL won’t get enough from just the TV contracts. They will cancel the season if people can’t go to at least 50% of the games.

  8. We have a shortage of Covid-19 test supplies. Using them to test NFL players weekly, while continuing to ignore testing “essential workers” is a bad idea. I’d rather see grocery cashiers and mass-transit staff get tested than give weekly tests to NFL players.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.