Officials won’t have same limitations as players, coaches, staff

Getty Images

NFL players and team employees falling into Tier I and Tier II of facility access have a firm list of things they can’t do when not at work. Per a source with knowledge of the situation, game officials have no such restrictions.

According to the source, although the officials received the same educational materials as players and clubs, they do not have the same limitations as players, coaches, staff, etc.

Players and non-players in Tier I and Tier II are prohibited from: (1) attending an indoor night club unless wearing PPE and there are no more than 10 people present; (2) attending an indoor bar (other than to pick up food) unless wearing PPE and there are no more than 10 people in the bar; (3) attending house gatherings of more than 15 people without all guests wearing masks or PPE or where social distancing for more than 10 people is impossible; (4) attending an indoor music concert/entertainment event; (5) attending a professional sporting event (other than applicable NFL games or events) unless seated in a separated seating section, such as a suite or owner’s box, wearing PPE, and there are no more than 10 people in that separate seating section; and (6) attending an event that is prohibited by state and/or local regulation, executive order or law implemented due to COVID-19.

The officials aren’t at club facilities on a daily basis, which is one of the reasons for the distinction. However, if they test positive at the game site in a given week, they’ll have to be scrapped for the game, with either a replacement installed or the crew proceeding with fewer than seven officials. The league is prepared to proceed with as few as five officials in a given game.

The officials are asked to follow relevant CDC guidelines regarding the wearing of face coverings, social distancing, etc., and the hope is that they will make good individual decisions.

One potential complication relates not to an official’s NFL gig but to his or her regular job. If a game assignment entails travel out of an official’s home state, a quarantine obligation could arise when the official returns.

Officials have until Thursday to exercise their opt-out rights. Any who opt out, regardless of risk factors, will receive a non-refundable payment of $30,000. To date, there have been no reports or announcements of officials opting out.