NFL, NFLPA agree to more COVID-19 protocol changes

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The NFL and NFL Players Association have not agreed to a team-by-team bubble to keep the virus out of the 32 facilities. However, the league and the union have reached other agreements.

According to a memo sent by Commissioner Roger Goodell to all owners, team presidents, General Managers, coaches, and infection control officers on Monday, a copy of which PFT has obtained, Monday’s conference call involving all owners, coaches, and General Managers includes the revelation that the league and union have revised the COVID-19 protocols in several ways.

First, the league and union have agreed to a longer “onboarding” process for free-agent tryouts, which will lengthen the waiting period before a tryout can happen — presumably (and hopefully) long enough to cover the entirety of the incubation period. Second, the league and union have agreed to limit the number of free-agent tryouts per week. Third, the league and union have banned gatherings outside the club facility. Fourth, the league and union have agreed to the implementation of a league-wide video monitoring system to ensure compliance with protocols, particularly those that require players and staff to wear personal protective equipment while in the club facility and while traveling.

The memo also explains that Monday’s conference call with all teams included discussion of other apparently optional steps. Teams should consider holding all meetings virtually, wearing masking or shields during all practices and walk-throughs, further decreasing the size of the traveling party, reducing time spent in lunchrooms and locker room, and consulting the proximity tracking device information daily to identify areas where close contact can be avoided.

These actual and suggested changes reflect the fact that the protocols demand further tweaking and tightening. Ideally, 32 bubbles will be created. The league is trying to avoid that, obviously. If these changes don’t work, 32 bubbles remain inevitable.