NFL had proposed a “COVID Academy,” with 100 free agents in a bubble

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As the NFL and NFL Players Association deals with the aftermath of the first COVID-19 outbreak of the 2020 season, the league and union should dust off concepts that previously had been discussed but not adopted.

Case in point: The league had proposed a “COVID Academy” aimed at having free agents who are constantly tested for the virus immediately available for any/all teams having a need for new players.

The COVID Academy would have opened the week of September 7, after the setting of rosters and the establishment of practice squads. Players from the COVID Academy would have been eligible for club rosters as of September 14.

The 100 free agents would have stayed at a single location, with daily COVID-19 testing and physical fitness the focal point, as they wait for an opportunity to join a roster or a practice squad.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, negotiations bogged down over issues like compensation and selection of the 100 players. The reality, however, is that plenty of players would have been happy to enter the COVID Academy at little or no compensation, given that it provides the gateway to the possibility of being “called up.”

Regardless of why or how it didn’t happen last month, it’s something that now needs to be considered. As the league and union work to plug any and all potential coronavirus leaks into 32 different franchises, a clear and obvious potential path for infection continues to be new players who haven’t been part of the team-by-team quasi-bubble. By having 100 players in a hardened bubble until needed by one of the 32 teams, that potential leak would be plugged.

4 responses to “NFL had proposed a “COVID Academy,” with 100 free agents in a bubble

  1. That actually sounds like a good idea. The thing I’m having a hard time with is how the hell the NFL thought they could just increase the practice squad and when one or two guys came down with it they go away and next guy gets called up. Did they learn nothing from the Marlins or Cardinals in MLB? Those entire teams got shut down for weeks until they could truly confirm who did and didn’t have it. That also, obviously, effected the teams they were supposed to play. Seems like poor planning on the part of the NFL.

  2. Sounds great but the logistics would be a nightmare. As free agents they wouldn’t be employees of any team so the NFL as a whole would employ them? And what EXACTLY would they be doing in the bubble? There’d be generic coaches and trainers helping them workout? Would teams be required to sign a guy in the bubble first or could they still just call up whoever they felt like? And it’s one thing when a guy is on an active roster and you’re asking him to make huge sacrifices but these guys would be asked to live in isolation just on the HOPE they might get signed at some point.

  3. Very good idea. Especially with the amount of injuries this season, and it would mean each one wouldn’t have to go the week long covid protocol, they’d already be clear.

    And it would be the closest thing to a guarantee that players and coaches stay clean

  4. the nfl could of had pitt/tenn play this week with replacement players from the covid academy…that would have been awesome!

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