NFL players are unionized. Non-player employees are not. Which makes it much easier for NFL teams to tell non-player employees what to do, when it comes to the pandemic.
That’s precisely what the Cowboys are doing. Via Todd Archer of ESPN.com, all Cowboys coaches and staff are staying at a hotel connected to the team’s practice facility.
Owner Jerry Jones didn’t specifically mention a mini-bubble when discussing the team’s COVID-19 protocols during a Tuesday morning appearance on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas.
“We’re going in a more intense way and we’re having our coaches restrict their activities away from the field and restrict their contacts away from the field,” Jones said, via Archer. “We’re having all staff that touch a player do that. That’s in addition to what the NFL is doing.”
It’s unclear whether Jones himself is staying at the hotel. Although he’s the owner, he’s also the General Manager. Regardless, Jones is being vigilant, wearing two masks and assuming everyone with whom he comes into contact has the virus.
“Don’t let your guard down because tomorrow all of that could change,” Jones said. “And that’s a fact. Don’t let me think for one second we’ve got the key to how to not have this COVID outbreak. We don’t. But the things we’re doing are working here.”
It’s easier to make thing work when non-player employees can be told that they’ll be staying in a hotel, away from their families, even if the non-player employees would prefer to go home. Jones presumably would have the players do it, if he could.
As the pandemic continues to worsen, there could be a renewed push for a mandatory home-market bubble in Dallas and elsewhere. Somehow, the league is holding the season together. As more and more positive cases emerges, however, there’s a chance that one or more teams will have too many players on the COVID-19 reserve list, preventing a game from being played.