Jason McCourty questions whether NFL, NFLPA truly care about player health in pandemic

Getty Images

If you wondered why the NFL went forward with the Week Four game between the Patriots and Chiefs only three days after New England quarterback Cam Newton tested positive for COVID-19, you’re not alone.

Patriots defensive back Jason McCourty expressed uncertainty on Saturday as to whether the league or the NFL Players Association truly have the best interests of players in mind.

“I think outside of here, the people that don’t have to walk in our building — whether it is the league office, whether it is the NFLPA — they don’t care,” McCourty said, via Mike Reiss of ESPN.com. “For them, it is not about our best interest, or our health and safety, it is about, ‘What can we make protocol-wise that sounds good, looks good, and how can we go out there and play games?’ I think what I kind of learned personally throughout this situation is it is going to be up to us as individuals in this building to just really take care of one another.”

McCourty’s comments, though rare from the ranks of NFL players, aren’t unreasonable. The protocols crafted by the NFL and NFLPA contain multiple donut holes that fail to ensure the absence of outbreaks, from the incubation period to the lag between sample collection and test results to the failure to test players on game days.

“If you get a chance to talk to the NFL or the NFLPA, I’d greatly appreciate you bringing up that point and letting them know. That’s something we talk about, and we are dealing with it. We’re moving forward and it’s obviously in the back of our mind,” McCourty said.

McCourty said that he decided to say in a hotel for the season, after discussing the situation with his wife, Melissa.

“That was kind of a plan me and my wife [Melissa] talked about before the season even happened, but we’re living through a pandemic, so you can’t just assume, like, ‘Hey, we’re never going to have a positive test.’ [So] I will just isolate myself away, make sure I stay away until everything is clear and the virus runs its course and we’re all set before I went back into the house,” McCourty said.

McCourty admitted that he and his teammates were confused about the decision to play in Kansas City only three days after Newton tested positive. The confusion was validated by the fact that, a day after the game, cornerback Stephon Gilmore tested positive. Gilmore reportedly had dinner with Newton hours before he learned about his positive test.

“[T]hat’s a thought — the same way you guys are sitting there thinking about it like, ‘Hey, they’re getting on a plane on Monday [to go to Kansas City], well, those days don’t really add up with the incubation period,'” McCourty said. “That was the same question we were asking our union before we head out there.”

The game still went forward, as most games will this season even if a player or coach tests positive. If every team had to slam the brakes on all activities for four or five days after every positive test, plenty of games would be postponed and plenty of those games eventually would never be played.

Until the league and the union agree that all players, coaches, and other team employees will stay in a hotel for the balance of the season, the risk that someone will be shedding virus in the presence of others will linger. Although the league believes that adherence to its protocols will prevent the virus from spreading, the far better goal seems to be the creation of a scenario that minimizes if not eliminates the total number of positives. Absent a home-market bubble, the risk will remain that one or more of the 170 or so players, coaches, and other personnel who leave the facility every night eventually will bring the virus to the facility, and potentially spread it.

36 responses to “Jason McCourty questions whether NFL, NFLPA truly care about player health in pandemic

  1. Finally, a player speaks the genuine truth.

    Goodell is vile scum and anyone who has supported his greedy and selfish decisions, is the same person themselves.

    Very proud of Jason McCourty.

  2. It’s pretty obvious that if the NFL cared even a little bit about the safety and welfare of its players, this season wouldn’t happen. The NFL is a Trust of old rich white men who don’t have a lot of time left and don’t care about what happens long term. Profit is a score they are intentionally running up, and they will never suffer the loss of profits, or they would never have been in a position to buy a team in the first place.

  3. Solution is simple. Don’t take the money, opt out. What was that? You wanna keep cashing those 200k per game checks? Oh, ok. You see, the league gave you a choice smart guy. You made your choice. You can’t have it both ways, that’s not how life works.

  4. Any one these whiny babies could have walked away when given the chance to opt out before the season, but they didn’t. Why? Because they won’t walk away from the money either, just like the “evil” owners they love to blame for everything.
    Bunch of crying hypocrites.

  5. If every player acted responsibly off the field there would be 0 instances of COVID positive players in the stadium and therefore 0 cases as a result of the NFL.

    I am tired of this criticizing of the MLB and the NFL. It is on the players. Own your mistakes.

  6. I laugh at Jason McCourty. If the NFL decided to abandon the season and tell the players they weren’t going to be paid, he’d one of the first guys to complain.
    Here’s the truth whether anyone will admit it. If they paid me the money they pay these guys, I’d suit up and play right now — and I’m 67 years old!
    The fact is, the NFL owners have a lot of money invested in their product and just like every other business, they want to do everything they can to sell their brand.
    So — I challenge McCourty and every other player who feels as he does to do this. Tell your owner you are not going to play and tell him he doesn’t have to pay you while you sit out. Fat chance of that happening, huh?
    I won’t hold my breath because we all know these guys care about money and everything else is secondary. It’s why they let the NFL schedule games in Europe, on Sunday, Monday and Thursday nights and the players go right along with it.

  7. He had the option to sit out the season. Some of these players want to have their cake and eat it too. They don’t want a bubble but expect the NFL to save them from COVID in their day to day life? That is the PLAYERS’ responsibility to access their risk of getting COVID while engaging in certain activities. Is it the NFL’s fault Gilmore went out to dinner with Newton? Is it the fault of the NFL that several Titans players decided to workout and practice at a school facility while theirs was closed due to a COVID outbreak? The NFL is not flawless or always doing the right thing, but at the end of the day the NFL is out to make money, of which some goes to the players. If McCourty was not interested in the $$$ he would have chosen to sit out. Outside of Tennessee where there was clearly a disregard for safety protocols, there has not been spread within rosters. Newton and Gilmore on the patriots likely caught it from each other while at dinner. Seems like the NFL COVID protocols work decently when teams abide to them.

  8. I’ve read all the comments. I find i must agree with the NFL and the owners. Mccourtney could have opted out.

    Although technically the opt out period is no longer available-he could walk away from his salary for the rest of the season.

    I believe Kraft and Belichick would let him.

  9. The NFL failed based on what they had promised. The players who opted out were smart, sure, but that doesn’t excuse the league’s horrible protocols and lack of consistency.

  10. I understand everyone’s logical point about how the league gave the players the option to opt out. However, Goodell and the owners never had a plan to protect the players and coaching staffs to begin with. They’re just winging it, and it’s not even cold outside yet across the country. When winter arrives, how are they going to handle a higher case count? They can’t delay multiple games every week in November and December. The league doesn’t care about the health and safety of the players, especially evident by how they tried to cover up those CTE studies.

  11. husky1881 says:
    October 10, 2020 at 10:29 pm
    He had the option to sit out the season
    ========================================

    Maybe the NFL and NFLPA painted a much different picture to the players prior to the season consisting of a much safer environment then what they actually slopped together.

  12. Well said, Jason. The opinions being expressed in the comment section are a bit baffling. All McCourty was saying is that the “protocols” the league and union have agreed on don’t take into account things like the incubation period of the virus, and they might be more interested in keeping up appearances than anything else. How can you possibly disagree with that statement? Employers and unions do that all that time in all economic sectors. Are we not allowed to point out their shortsightedness? What is this, communist China?

  13. Newsflash Jason, you had the opportunity to opt out this season. I’m sure it would’ve been hard to pay your bills and feed your family on the $180,000 advance. The NFL doesn’t care about you? Please tell us all what employer in the United States has set up a system where you could stay home and still get a check for doing nothing?

  14. So did he not check his email the day the NFL/NFLPA sent the memo out about the whole “opt-out situation”?

  15. I’m curious if McCourty was involved when they were crafting those protocols and if he advocated for not playing and not getting paid.

    He’s right, but he conveniently leaves out that players were highly motivated *before* the season for it to take place because they wanted to get paid.

  16. thetooloftools says:
    October 10, 2020 at 9:54 pm
    Spot on. They just want to make $ off of him and other players. He is so right and brave.

    —————————

    Did he opt out; or, is he trying to make his yearly wage like millions of Americans wish they can do?

  17. Welcome to the real world, can’t have your cake and eat it too. You had a chance to opt out. You wanna get paid go to work like everybody else.

  18. He’s right. Was a separate flight for close contacts of a positive tested player part of the plan they pitched before the season? What happened to quarantine procedures?

  19. Hes spot on it’s about money with the nfl they like to talk about safety and integrity but it’s a farce! they wanted that KC game played regardless knowing this was a genuine possibility going forward that’s irresponsible.

  20. It’s business; it’s not personal. Just like your decision to not opt out. The NFL cares about player’s health only as it impacts the game. Nor should they. The player’s responsibility to themselves, the team, the fans, and whole system’s success is being shown here. The only comment I agree with him is that he realizes it’s on the shoulders of the players to take care of themselves. In fact, he soon will understand that he, like the rest of us in this world, have that daily responsibility.

  21. If every player acted responsibly off the field there would be 0 instances of COVID positive players in the stadium and therefore 0 cases as a result of the NFL.

    ———

    . It’s a virus and no amount of caution is 100% effective.

  22. Angel Valle says:
    October 11, 2020 at 7:38 am
    Hes spot on it’s about money with the nfl they like to talk about safety and integrity but it’s a farce! they wanted that KC game played regardless knowing this was a genuine possibility going forward that’s irresponsible.
    ——————————
    It’s almost like it’s being operated like a business

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.