Nearly as quickly as it arrived, the NFL has abandoned its pandemic-driven 62-player game-day maximum.
In a memo sent to all teams by the league office on Thursday, the rule limiting the road team from bringing 62 players to away games (and for fairness purposes placing a similar restriction on home teams) was rescinded.
“Effective for Week 13 games, the 62-player limit on the number of players from each club that may travel to/attend each game will be lifted,” the memo, a copy of which PFT has obtained, explains. “Clubs may determine the number of players they wish to travel to/attend each game (e.g., clubs are permitted to bring players on Reserve/Injured status and/or players on the practice squad, but they should carefully consider the risks and benefits in doing so). Players on Reserve/COVID may not travel with the club or attend a game. All players that attend the game and are not on the sideline must remain physically distant, wear their Kinexon tracking devices and PPE at all times. Clubs are no longer required to submit a list of the 62 eligible players in advance of each game.”
Any players who attend the game must stay at the team hotel the night before the game.
In the aftermath of the creation of the 62-player rule, some raised concerns that players left at home during a road trip would be at greater risk of catching the virus in the community.
The move underscores the potential value of a home-market bubble, which would keep players out of the community at large during a large increase in the spread of the virus. Due most likely to collective bargaining, however, the league isn’t asking — and the union isn’t offering.
That will likely continue to be the case until an outbreak results in the cancellation of a game. It would be great if both sides could recognize the potential impact of the worst-case scenario before it happens, and act accordingly.