How many NFL players will opt out?

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It’s expected the NFL players will have the ability to choose not to play in 2020, with the only cost being the sacrifice of their salary. No fines, no bonus forfeiture. Just no weekly pay.

Some, like NBC’s Chris Simms, believe most players will choose to play. Other, like NBC’s Rodney Harrison, believe plenty of players will not feel comfortable playing football in a pandemic.

On Thursday, a glimpse of what could happen was obtained via a conference call between NFL Players Association team representatives and NFLPA medical director Thom Mayer. Via Dan Graziano of ESPN.com, Mayer explained to players the dangers of the virus, and the players were told that the “chances of conducting a season around the virus will depend on the success of their testing and contact-tracing program.”

The frank and candid discussion regarding the gravity of the situation prompted “plenty of pushback,” per the report, with representatives “asking why they are trying to rush back to play if the virus is such a dangerous threat.” Questions also emerged regarding player contracts if they opt out due to virus concerns, and whether they’ll be able to leave if they become too uncomfortable to play as the season unfolds.

A call with all players (or at least with as many who call in) will happen today, which could result in more talk about players choosing to skip the year. The league, per a source with knowledge of the situation, will want decisions to be made before training camp, without an escape hatch once a player signs on. This “speak now or forever hold your peace” approach, if it is adopted, could result in more players walking away.

Regardless, to the extent that players wonder why the season is being played in a pandemic most likely won’t have to play in a pandemic, even though the current labor deal was ratified by the players after the pandemic began. As Rodney mentioned earlier this week, players have enough to worry about as they focus on their craft and prepare for their opponents. Having extra concerns relating to the virus will make it much harder for them to do their jobs — and some of them may simply choose, for this year, not to.

34 responses to “How many NFL players will opt out?

  1. Why would forfeiture of playing not lead to the forfeiture of bonuses? These bonuses aren’t exactly Jelly Bean of the Month Club memberships like in Christmas Vacation; these bonuses are worth millions of dollars.

  2. At least if you’re in a pandemic it’s nice to be rich. Makes that whole getting-sick-and-dying thing way less possible. The rest of us … not so much.

  3. How will this work with regards to service time? If a player signs a franchise contract, let’s say for the Kansas City Chiefs, and then decides it’s not safe because of the coronavirus, does that mean next year would entail a second straight franchise tag?

    If they get the service time it would appear it would be worthwhile to sign their tag especially if they are very uncertain regarding their health and safety for the upcoming season.

  4. If the NFL had a force majeure clause in the CBA, we wouldn’t be going through this little charade. Instead, the NFL is trying to renegotiate by threatening to drive off of the cliff.

    I wish they’d instead use their sway with the public to tell everyone to wear a mask or else we’ll have no season (obviously, no one cares enough about basketball or baseball).

  5. Not one of these causes of deaths resulted in shutting down anything. It’s all one big hoax:
    Deaths per year/per day
    Heart disease: 647,457 (1,773 per day)
    Cancer: 599,108 (1,641 per day)
    Accidents (unintentional injuries): 169,936 (466 per day)
    Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 160,201 (439 per day)
    Stroke: 146,383 ( 401 per day)
    Alzheimer’s disease: 121,404 ( 333 per day)
    Diabetes: 83,564 ( 229 per day)
    Influenza and Pneumonia: 55,672 ( 153 per day)

  6. Margo, covid has already killed nearly 130, 000 americans and it has been just over 3 months; if you project that to a full year that would equal about 520k, right behind heart disease and cancer on your list. With the way things are trending i could be much higher than that as well, how is that a hoax?

  7. margoadams says:
    July 3, 2020 at 7:23 am
    Not one of these causes of deaths resulted in shutting down anything. It’s all one big hoax:
    Deaths per year/per day
    Heart disease: 647,457 (1,773 per day)
    Cancer: 599,108 (1,641 per day)
    Accidents (unintentional injuries): 169,936 (466 per day)
    Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 160,201 (439 per day)
    Stroke: 146,383 ( 401 per day)
    Alzheimer’s disease: 121,404 ( 333 per day)
    Diabetes: 83,564 ( 229 per day)
    Influenza and Pneumonia: 55,672 ( 153 per day)

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    So how many dead players, that didn’t have to die, are acceptable to you?

    It’s a fair and simple question.

    How many?

  8. Maybe, just maybe, people will discover that a walk in the autumn down a country lane with your dog is more satisfying than football.

  9. Just cancel the season, a large chunk of the fan base won’t be tuning in anyways due to the protests and nonsense.

  10. Yeah like anyone will choose to lose 100% of their yearly pay and 10% of their career longevity. The only people who will “opt out” are possibly guys vying for long term deals like chris jones

  11. Easy choice for a millionaire to make since they can afford to live a year without pay. But they won’t have to worry about making that choice because the season will ultimately be cancelled.

  12. There won’t be a season. And it’s probably in the league’s best interest for it to be canceled. Many fans won’t show up anyway. Either they will be scared of COVID or they will be sick of the protests. I can just imagine a stadium full of fans, forced to wear masks, then being forced to stand for the black national anthem and then watching as players and coaches kneel for the star-spangled banner… all in an election year to boot. Then we watch a game where many players have opted out of the season.

    This is going to be a total disaster.

  13. Man I hope a bunch of big name quarterbacks who already have their big time money sit out. It would be hilarious to see the media panic.

  14. I don’t know how many players are going to opt out, but I know millions of fans that are or already have opted out.

  15. Just curious. If the Spanish Flu went from 1918-1920 what did the NFL do in it’s first two seasons? A pandemic that was way more contagious.

  16. How horribly ironic would it be if the NFL’s current climate ended up getting Trump re-elected?

  17. “If the Spanish Flu went from 1918-1920 what did the NFL do in it’s first two seasons? A pandemic that was way more contagious.”

    This doesn’t really answer your question, but one of the interesting lessons from that pandemic was that we argued about wearing masks back then. The people arguing most against masks, oddly enough, were in San Francisco.

    To answer your question: I think many of the players were overseas fighting. Most football, as we know it, was played on military bases during the war.

  18. margoadams says:
    July 3, 2020 at 7:23 am
    Not one of these causes of deaths resulted in shutting down anything. It’s all one big hoax:
    Deaths per year/per day
    Heart disease: 647,457 (1,773 per day)
    Cancer: 599,108 (1,641 per day)
    Accidents (unintentional injuries): 169,936 (466 per day)
    Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 160,201 (439 per day)
    Stroke: 146,383 ( 401 per day)
    Alzheimer’s disease: 121,404 ( 333 per day)
    Diabetes: 83,564 ( 229 per day)
    Influenza and Pneumonia: 55,672 ( 153 per day)
    ——————————————————————-
    COVID-19 has killed 130K in 3 months…and is extremely contagious. The NFL isn’t worried about spreading heart disease and cancer in the locker room. Those aren’t even comparable. There’s nothing on your list that is even close to how contagious/deadly COVID has become. Dumb take.

    As for who’s going to opt out…I imagine ALOT of players will. It’s one thing for baseball to start up, but in football…these dudes are all over each other every play. It would arguable take one positive testing player who’s asymptomatic to spread COVID to 70-80 dudes in less than a quarter. If these guys are just giving up weekly salaries and not bonuses….lol, good luck getting them to play in the middle of all this. It’s completely ridiculous to expect NFL players to play in the middle of a pandemic for non-essential entertainment purposes. COVID is RAGING in this country right now and getting worse. They have families too, and I don’t expect to see a lot of them on the field this year (if there is a season),

  19. Aren’t these the same young men who don’t hesitate to go to large parties and cath covid there.

    just mentioning it. It didn’t stop Dak for one.

  20. And still, none of the “must be football” crowd will answer my very simple question.

    How many dead players are you willing to accept?

  21. Interesting. I read that college football played a condensed season and 19 teams didn’t have a season and that they didn’t start til October-November.

  22. bajer says:

    Margo, covid has already killed nearly 130, 000 americans and it has been just over 3 months; if you project that to a full year that would equal about 520k, right behind heart disease and cancer on your list. With the way things are trending i could be much higher than that as well, how is that a hoax?
    ________________________________
    Heart disease and cancer develop over years before someone dies and has symptoms that tell you you have it. Covid strikes without warning and hits and/or kills within days. No warning. No symptoms until you are already in trouble. This logic makes Covid-19 #1.

  23. alonestartexan says:
    July 3, 2020 at 7:55 am
    … a large chunk of the fan base won’t be tuning in anyways due to the protests and nonsense.
    —————
    maybe … but I’d guess just the opposite. The real NFL fans will tune in to watch their teams, plus the curiosity seekers just to see how they are handling the situation. I’m personally starving for MLB, the NBA playoffs and Stanley Cup playoffs.

  24. The Almighty Cabbage says:
    July 3, 2020 at 9:57 am
    And still, none of the “must be football” crowd will answer my very simple question.

    How many dead players are you willing to accept?
    ______
    The real question is how many times are you going to ask that stupid question?

  25. A hoax? Wow, that’s some serious organizing. “They” somehow got tens of millions of people of all countries, ages, races, religions, political affiliations to pull off a massive hoax without anybody admitting they were involved? No leaks? No brekadowns? Politicians, world leaders, doctors all part of a hidden plan to pull off a hoax. I love conspiracy clowns but I have to admit it makes me sad for this once great country. Please vote in November, people.

  26. Anyone with a lot of their compensation distributed via Bonus money will have some incentive to sit out. The may not want to risk injury if they’re going to get paid handsomely without the risk for normal football injury or of course covid19.

  27. udub says:
    July 3, 2020 at 11:31 am

    No football player is going to opt out.

    —————————————————
    You state this based on what? Your hope that everything just goes back to normal? Or that this virus ‘magically disappears’?

    There are NFL players with underlying health conditions and family members who might be vulnerable. If you think ‘no football player is going to opt out’ you are welcome to that opinion, but I don’t think you are dealing with reality.

    MLB players are already opting out and baseball has far less contact than football.

  28. sportsfan7 says:
    July 3, 2020 at 12:17 pm

    You state this based on what? Your hope that everything just goes back to normal? Or that this virus ‘magically disappears’?

    There are NFL players with underlying health conditions and family members who might be vulnerable. If you think ‘no football player is going to opt out’ you are welcome to that opinion, but I don’t think you are dealing with reality.

    MLB players are already opting out and baseball has far less contact than football.
    ____________________________________________

    I am dealing with reality.

    Most players, around 60%, are on minimum salaries.

    The average career us like 3 something years.

    The people that have long careers, and make big money are the leaders and core talents on teams. They’ll want to set the example.

    That adds up to nobody opting out.

  29. I will bet that Dalvin Cook, Joe Mixon, and other players who would main a ton of negotiating leverage from the ability to opt out will choose to do so if they do not receive new contracts. Those players are still on their rookie deal and don’t want to risk regular injury this year let alone Covid.

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