Less than a week into July, the news leaked about a vote of the NFL Players Association’s (NFPLA) board. The union’s player representatives held a conference call and unanimously decided to ask that all 2020 preseason games be scrapped. The NFL, on the other hand, had apparently already decided to reduce the preseason from four games to two, according to ESPN’s Kevin Seifert. No official announcement yet, but the decision has been made. The beginning of the regular NFL season is scheduled on September the 10th. Fans can already access their favorite sportsbook and start planning their gaming options for the fall.
Most teams should begin training camp on July the 28th, but the tension is mounting. Players are growing nervous and wondering if the league will be able to guarantee their safety. According to Yahoo Sports, there is “a lot of anxiety” in the air. Obviously, the cause is the unrelenting epidemic and all sorts of doubts on how efficient the NFL safety protocols are going to be. The preseason is scheduled to start on August the 14th and cover the period to September the 4th.
In the meanwhile, club general managers and coaches were told that camp start dates should remain as scheduled. NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported that the league called club managers but no decision is known about how the camps will be structured. “Right now, the NFL and NFLPA are still finalizing their testing protocols,” Pelissero said. “What I can tell you is that under the current protocol, there would be an initial intake screening that would consist of two different tests: one for the virus, that would be a nasal swab, as well as one for antibodies, which would consist of a finger prick.” Apparently, the plan includes testing players’ family members and anyone else who they are cohabitating with.
To make things worse, on July the 7th the NFL proposed that 35 percent of player salaries in 2020 be held in escrow to help manage costs for the season. When the players’ union broke this news to them, an avalanche of angry and sarcastic comments started to flood Twitter. As a sample of the mood, here is what Pittsburgh Steelers defensive tackle Cameron Heyward posted: “NFL: hey guys go risk your life and your family’s lives while we fly in our private jets and sit in our private skyboxes and watch you possibly die for our profits and entertainment. Also, let us hold 35% of your money and keep the interest and profits!”
NFL’s profits are certainly taking a blow in 2020. The situation across the US in uneven, again, due to the unpredictability of the epidemics. In this moment, there is no clear picture of which games in which locations will be able to allow the public to attend. The financial effect on the league is bound to be heavy in any case. No wonder they are trying to share part of the burden with the players. The idea is obviously not going down well with them. Saber rattling between the NFL and the NFLPA has only just begun, and it’s a long way to go until September the 10th.