NFL’s plans for 2020 must allow players, coaches to opt out

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As the NFL and NFL Players Association work toward an agreement (hopefully) that will allow the 2020 season to be played, an important consideration cannot be forgotten: Any players or coaches who decide that they are not comfortable participating in the season as structured must be given a chance to opt out, without penalty.

Whether a player or coach (or anyone else who would be working directly in professional football) is concerned about his or her own health or the health of a family member or the potential impact of participation in the football business on public health generally, there must be a way for them to conscientiously choose to take a year off — without consequence.

The problem, of course, is that consequences will be unavoidable. Unlike season-ticket holders, who in some (hopefully all) cities won’t lose dibs on their seats if they skip 2020, players, coaches, trainers, etc. will be replaced in 2020. And the replacement could perform well enough to keep the job in 2021.

Then there’s the question of compensation. What will those who choose not to participate be paid? Will there be a separate fund to cover those who believe that it’s not right for them or for someone close to them or for anyone to play amid the pandemic? Or will it simply become a GoFundMe issue, with those who sacrifice NFL jobs in 2020 relegated to whatever others will give them to replace their income?

It’s a delicate issue for all involved, and it will be very difficult for players and/or coaches to choose to take a year off. Given these unprecedented circumstances, it will be critical for the NFL and its teams to handle these persons the right way.

30 responses to “NFL’s plans for 2020 must allow players, coaches to opt out

  1. You’re just scratching the surface of possible problems if they allow personnel to not participate in the upcoming season. If a player sits out this coming year voluntarily, does it count towards fulfilling a year under their current contract? If a player sits out and gets cut next year, can they argue that they were cut because they didn’t participate this year? How do non-participating players count towards the cap? The list issues from opening this Pandora’s Box is lengthy.

  2. If they do choose to not play.. They certainly shouldn’t be paid for not playing.

  3. Right. No consequence. No play, no pay, and most of those idiots are living paycheck to paycheck because they are imbeciles.

  4. They can opt out and not receive any money, bet ya most would decide to play if they were not already financially secure

  5. By this logic, every employee of every company should be able to opt out of coming to work. Is that the gist here? Can normal employees decide to not work and still anticipate getting paid like those that show up? I had to read this a couple times to grasp what is being said here and I’m still not sure I get it.

  6. Players can always opt out. They always could. I work for a construction company. We’re hiring.

  7. If they’re going to have a season, the teams are all better off playing in Hawaii. I don’t see Texas, Florida, New York, or California looking great three to four months from now. There are some islands near the United States that have very few cases, and they also have football stadiums.

  8. Can’t wait to read all the comments calling for NFL players to make sacrifices for the team when the people criticizing are complaining about the horrible hardship of putting a mask over their mouth and nose when they leave their homes.

  9. Won’t happen.

    It’s unfortunate, but any rule allowing someone to bow out a year will be impossible to legislate. If players/coaches/whoever want to keep their jobs, they’ll have to consider themselves “essential services” and isolate themselves from family members who may be susceptible to the virus.

  10. Yeah let’s all donate to a GoFundMe for millionaires who don’t want to go to work. There are tons of essential workers assuming much more risk than NFL players every, and they can’t afford to “opt out” because they have a family to feed. Where’s their GoFundMe?

  11. The writing is on the wall, they just canceled the HOF game. This year’s season will not happen.

  12. Did this guy actually suggest that people who actually have to work should “GoFundMe” some millionaires?

    Although to be fair, that’s what the entire taxing banking and government structure is.

  13. Y’know, I get all this – and I would agree that if they don’t want to participate, they don’t have to participate.

    That is their individual choice.

    But if they choose not participate – unless their contract covers them otherwise – there is absolutely no obligation or reason to pay them. Period.

    There are countless people going to work everyday that aren’t getting paid millions to do so. Some of them in jobs that put them in a much higher risk category than any NFL player or coach, or other employee. And if they choose not to show up for work for an extended time, I’m pretty sure they’re not getting paid – and they may well end up losing their job.

    Welcome to the real world – or at least a little piece of it – NFL.

  14. Compensation? If you don’t provide goods or a service why should you be paid?

  15. I don’t think most people truly appreciate the situation the NFL is in right now. 30% of the NFL’s revenue comes from in-stadium game attendance, and they’re almost guaranteed to lose almost all of that this season. That’s before you start talking about the possibility of a shortened season that perhaps allows for more bye weeks.

    The NFL and NFLPA need to come to an agreement that shares that “hurt” between the owners and the players. Sorry, that’s how business works — even with unionized employees.

    As part of that agreement, players who do show up and play need to be given 100% of their contracted salaries, at least on a per-game basis. That’s only fair, right? Players who choose not to show up should have to share whatever is left over. That is also fair. If that means they get only 10% of their salaries with some sort of “floor” to protect players who are on the low end of the pay scale, then that’s how it should be done.

  16. If they opt not to play, will they get an extra $600 a week in unemployment?

  17. And would they get credit for year of service towards free agency? I would say no.

  18. No play no pay your contract is frozen so you don’t get a year closer to FA. We all know the cap will go down next couple of seasons hopefully teams whose players sit out can bank that money for future cap.

  19. A lot of people in comments here are going to have their minds blown when they realize how old some coaches are and find out they just can’t safely participate in a season right now. Just like the NBA had to disqualify certain high-risk coaches, you should fully expect the NFL to at least look into doing the same.

  20. They absolutely should not get paid if they opt out. In what universe does it make sense that they could willfully decide not to play and yet still expect to get paid? Do I think they should be able to opt out? Yes, absolutely. But they should not get paid if they opt out.

  21. It’s not a delicate issue. You don’t play, you don’t get paid, the year is taken off your contract, you payback the portion of the signing bonus that is on the 2020 cap and you do not get credit for year of service.

    Shockingly, there are people who have actually taken reduced hours and less money for the betterment of the company they work so they have a place to work through and after the pandemic.

  22. I see we have a bunch of arm chair legal expert quick take guys above that perhaps haven’t thought about the most likely reason for a coach or player to be hesitant to play. What if a coach or player has a vulnerable family member in their household — for example, what if a family member has had a transplant or cancer and has vulnerable immune systems? Under standard employment law in most states, usually called family medical leave acts, the employee is entitled to stay home and either avoid potential virus exposure or to care for that family member. They are entitled to use accrued vacation or sick leave, and under some of the recent covid legislation, some compensation. The employee is protected from adverse employment consequences under those situations. Ask yourselves if your kid had leukemia if you would be willing to go to work every day and come home and expose your kid?

    If the employee is concerned about their own well being, which is doubtful given the mindset of most NFLers, if they get sick due to working for the NFL, they are covered under workers compensation laws, and likely the CBA.

  23. I doubt there are more than 10 players in the NFL that have conditions where they need to worry at all about Covid-19. Are healthy people under the age of 40 going to opt out of their job because they are scared? NFL players have far more to worry about their health from concussions than they do from Covid-19.

    Coaches may be another story.

  24. I will be amazed if the NFL actually plays this season. COVID-19 infection rates are skyrocketing in many states, the death toll continues to rise, and there is no cure/vaccine for the disease. Football is a contact sport, and people will be spitting, snarling, foaming, and otherwise potentially dispensing the virus on every play. Do you really think intelligent people are going to want to play football in conditions like that?

  25. They must confirm weather they are in or out BEFORE training camp. This dance is not going to end well for the NFL. The VIRUS sets the timelines and look at what a train wreck opening the economy is. I expect nothing less from the NFL.

  26. So then they get to opt out of the next year when the pandemic gets worse and expect to get paid?? I dont think so. By then, they will be a distant memory.

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