62-player game-day limit is another calculated COVID-19 risk

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To further limit the potential spread of COVID-19 within an NFL franchise, the league has begun limiting teams to 62 players on game days, home and away. The obvious benefit has a potential hidden cost.

Yes, it limits the number of players who will be traveling (for away teams) or otherwise present on game day. If one of those extra players ends up generating a sample that produces a positive test for that day, it will mean that the extra player was shedding virus in the presence of teammates and coaches.

Here’s the potential downside: By not taking extra players to road games or allowing them to attend a home game, those extra players won’t have the benefit of being within the quasi-bubble that NFL teams create on work days.

That’s especially true for road teams. Instead of flying to the site of the game and staying in a team hotel that is limited to the traveling party, the extra players are at home or wherever else they choose to be. They’re at greater risk of catching the virus while moving around in the community than they’d be if they were with the team.

So while, on one hand, the rule reduces the number of players who could potentially have the virus, on the other hand it increases the possibility that the players who don’t travel or attend the game will become exposed to the virus.