In recent years, NFL players have begun a tradition of trading jerseys with opposing players after games, a way for two players to show mutual respect and add to their memorabilia collections. This year, it will be different.
The NFL has banned the postgame exchanges on the field in the interest of social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. But the league will facilitate jersey exchanges once the jerseys have been cleaned.
The league has informed players that if they want to exchange jerseys, they can inform their equipment manager, who will then remove the contact tracing device from the jersey, clean the jersey and ship it to the opposing club’s equipment manager.
Players aren’t allowed to exchange jerseys after the NFL’s “Crucial Catch” and “Salute to Service” games, as the league collects those and auctions them off for cancer and military fundraisers.
Many players like game-worn jerseys precisely because they still have dirt, grass stains, sweat and sometimes blood on them, so they won’t be pleased that the jerseys have to be washed, sanitized and mailed. To those players, this compromise still isn’t satisfying. But it’s better than nothing.