De Smith: “Tough questions” exist over when it will be safe to play NFL games

Demaurice Smith democracy
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The NFL has said that it’s planning to play a full season in full stadiums, but it’s becoming more and more clear that both will be very hard to achieve. NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith recently addressed the dynamics associated with finding a way to play pro football games in the current climate.

Via Sports Business Daily, Smith said in an appearance on the CBS Debriefing the Briefing podcast that league and union officials will “have to ask tough questions” about whether and to what extent football games and other sporting events “fit into the safe practices of our country during a pandemic.”

Specifically, Smith said the NFL and NFLPA must consider “whether or not the progress of a sporting event either jeopardizes our healthcare system or jeopardizes the first responders, who would nonetheless have to be there to keep us safe.” Smith specifically mentioned the “hundreds of police officers, firefighters, first responders at these games” in asking whether the league and union will be “comfortable with those first responders being at a football game in order to keep us safe, or are we more comfortable with them being where they need to be in order to keep our families safe?”

Smith also said that NFL players should not benefit from repeated testing on a widespread basis if the general public doesn’t have access to such testing.

“I don’t think that anyone in our larger community should suffer simply because we want football to proceed on time,” Smith said. “We know that we are in a situation now where we cannot mass test the people who need it. . . . We have to make sure that they are taken care of first.”

Smith said the the NFLPA’s overall approach to the pandemic flow from the notion that “football [is] non-essential, and that’s where you start.”

“OTA’s or offseason practices, we shouldn’t assume that those are essential things that our players need to be doing right now,” Smith said, adding that the NFLPA “came up with a way of working with the league to make those practices voluntary and virtual.”

Smith also said that he expects the salary cap to increase in 2021, which will be hard to do if games are played without fans.

“If it goes down, we’ll be fine,” Smith added. “I look at all the people who are out of work and basically went out of work overnight. . . . No one should be feeling sorry for NFL players when it comes to their salary.”

The league ultimately will need Smith and the union to agree to any creative approaches to playing in 2020 that represent material changes to overall working conditions. The NFL’s labor deal lacks a force majeure clause or any similar provision allowing teams to refuse to pay players if there’s no season, which potentially gives the union added leverage when it comes to striking a deal on how to proceed with games in 2020. If the players will be owed their money with or without games, it will be more important to come up with a strategy that the NFLPA deems to be acceptable and appropriate for playing the games.

18 responses to “De Smith: “Tough questions” exist over when it will be safe to play NFL games

  1. Maybe they could play football games in liquor stores. There doesn’t seem to be a problem with people going there.

  2. The NFL can probably buy their own test kits, and test all the players before the preseason starts. Only those who are tested negative can participate in preseason. Regular, perhaps weekly, testing after that will be necessary. The likelihood of sell out stadiums, with 60,000 people sitting right next to each other, is low for this season. They may let perhaps 10,000 people in and space them out, about 6 ft. apart and take their temperature when they enter the stadium.

  3. Rick Spielman is a Magician says:
    April 21, 2020 at 3:05 pm
    Maybe they could play football games in liquor stores. There doesn’t seem to be a problem with people going there.
    __________________
    People need to drink to read comments like this one.

  4. There wouldn’t need to be “hundreds” of police officers, firefighters and first responders at the games if they are just played without fans. Just play the games and watch on TV.

  5. It’s still only April. And more and more evidence comes out every day that the extreme views on this virus were ridiculous. More than likely hundreds of thousands of people have already contracted and gotten over the virus, with little to no symptoms. The seriousness and mortality rate have been way over played by government and media for nefarious reasons.

    By September, after all the bills have passed and with elections looming, this nonsense will be mostly an afterthought. Bet on it.

  6. This is going to be really tough. I don’t envy the NFL or NFLPA in this situation. Some of our tests are showing really bad false negative rates. If one player gets infected and tests negative, then a lot of players will get it.

    Not only that, but imagine we have a perfect test and come game day, a random star tests positive. Imagine how that changes a team’s game planning. How long are they out for? etc.

    None of this even talks about the human aspect of the players and how coronavirus could impact them, personally.

  7. Cancel all sports until we have a working vaccine life is much more important then sports ppl .

  8. Even if they try to start the season, 1 positive case will be all it takes to shut it all down. Sure maybe you try to start it back up after a 2-4 week stoppage, but then you’ll get another positive case eventually. I just can’t see this season finishing. Starting? Maybe. But it won’t get far, unless of course you quarantine the entire franchise away from society for 6 months. That’s not an option. I really think teams need to draft thinking that there won’t be a season this year. Not a popular opinion, I know, but do you really think they’ll suddenly start playing sports without stoppages again? Impossible. Players won’t want that exposure, and lord help the future of any sports if an athlete dies from the virus.

  9. Ky Li says:
    April 21, 2020 at 3:46 pm
    The seriousness and mortality rate have been way over played by government and media for nefarious reasons.

    ******************************************************************************

    Thanks for the insights, Alex Jones. Let’s get the conspiracy theories rolling.

  10. And remember, players have families. They don’t want to go to a job where they can get a virus, not know it, and give it to their family. A 5 year old died of the virus recently. Sorry, but it’s not worth it to try to play a sport when a highly contagious and unpredictable virus is out there.

  11. they could just play in supermarkets & subway cars & buses…no problems there apparently.

  12. Angel Valle says:
    April 21, 2020 at 3:51 pm

    Cancel all sports until we have a working vaccine life is much more important then sports ppl
    __________

    We have a flu vaccine but 30,000 – 60,000 people die of the flu every year. I suppose we should cancel sports for that too, then?

  13. Teams won’t be living in a bubble.
    Someone tell me what happens when a player tests positive on a Saturday night or Sunday morning? His entire team was exposed directly or indirectly.
    How can they play without endangering the other team? The stadium and game workers? The refs who travel from game to game?
    Does that team forfeit?
    Do they forfeit all games within a 14 day quarantine period?
    Most importantly- what will bookmakers do?

  14. Isn’t the salary cap based upon actual revenues. If there are no fans or less games and lower TV revenues don’t the players get paid less. Obvious you have some players with guarantees so it seemed both sides have leverage to negotiate a fair deal.

  15. It will be safe to start having training camp with no problem…don’t let the Feds keep scaring people that the sky is falling…

  16. Rick Spielman is a Magician says:
    April 21, 2020 at 6:01 pm

    We have a flu vaccine but 30,000 – 60,000 people die of the flu every year. I suppose we should cancel sports for that too, then?

    ****************************************************************************

    Not sure what point you’re trying to make. There have been 45k deaths from COVID-19 in the US in the past month alone, and a month ago, we were at the way early part of the curve, so it’s not going to magically just get better. At the current rate, COVID-19 death rates stand to tower over flu deaths this year. Yet people keep downplaying it by either turning it into a political argument rooted in a very self-centered, 2020-era view of “individual rights” or treating it like a conspiracy theory.

  17. Some of comments show a complete ignorance of the facts of virology/ epidemiology regarding covid-19.It has killed over 45000 in this country, in all age groups and under a shelter in place, social distancing National edict.Most medical experts with no political axe to grind, say it would have killed 2.5 million or more people if social distancing and isolation of cases were not in place.NEVER would you stop the economy and shelter in place during a regular flu season and that alone makes it impossible to compare this with h1h2 flu.This is not regular flu and it spreads like wildfire.All those who downplay this killer…go out on front lines and volunteer to help…if you want to play russian roulette be my guest.

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