Recently, the league said that opt-out procedures for coaches and assistant coaches will be treated as individual team matters. It will be up to the teams to deal with more issues than that when it comes to coaching staffs.
Per a league source, the NFL believes that all matters regarding the pandemic and coaching staffs fall within the purview of the individual clubs. This includes procedures applicable to protecting, for example, coaches who fall into the same high-risk categories that qualify players for a full-season opt-out with no-strings-attached compensation.
For those members of the coaching staffs not inclined to opt out (assuming their teams even let them), what protocols will be used to keep them safe this season? Again, the league says that’s up to the teams.
This means that, if/when a head coach or assistant coach contracts COVID-19 and has a bad outcome, the league office will be able to say, “Don’t blame us.” The teams need to realize that this will be the attitude, and they need to come up with strategies for protecting the coaching staffs, especially those who are at higher risk of serious illness or death.
The broader problem is this: NFL coaches and assistant coaches have no union. If they had a union, these issues definitely would have been handled by now. Perhaps, as the dust settles on the pandemic and the coaches see how they’ve been treated by the various individual teams, a long-overdue push will commence to protect coaches via the same collective bargaining rights that are used by the players and the officials when dealing with the NFL.