In news that broke overnight, the NFL and the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) have reached an agreement that will cancel preseason games entirely. The agreement comes following several weeks of angst about the prospects of having an NFL season in 2020 and what that might look like. The news was first broken by NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero following a call between the league and players:
Updates from NFLPA call with players tonight:
– No preseason games in 2020
– Union still pushing for longer ramp-up period in camp
– Roster sizes expected to be 80 to start camp
– General agreement on voluntary and high-risk opt-out
– General agreement on stipend if games lost
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) July 21, 2020
The agreement comes days after numerous players expressed significant concerns that the NFL had not done enough to prepare to safely start the season and limit the spread of Covid-19 as much as possible. As recently as Monday, the league was still pushing for at least one preseason game, but in the end, decided to cancel preseason games completely. In a related story it was announced that 95 Covid-19 tests have come back positive for the disease in the latest wave of league testing. Despite initial reporting that it was 95 players, the union clarified that the testing included members of the league’s Tier 1, which is comprised of players, coaches, trainers and other team officials.
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95 NFL players are known to have tested positive for COVID-19.https://t.co/ZQEKK5kUXu
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) July 21, 2020
The NFL and players have agreed to a program of daily testing during training camp, if positive test rates fall below 5 percent the league will move to testing every second day. The league announced details in a memo following the agreement:
A memo that just went out outlining COVID-19 testing pic.twitter.com/RnJHRXQOKA
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) July 20, 2020
Our statement on Covid-19 testing procedures: pic.twitter.com/6mYF3aK0jm
— NFLPA (@NFLPA) July 20, 2020
It will be interesting to see the impact that a lack of preseason games has on the quality of play early in the NFL season as players and teams wrestle with these changes and adapt to this new version of reality. Perhaps the most significant additional change from the five items the league and players agreed on is the reduction in training camps roster sizes from the usual 90 to 80. This may not seem significant from a numbers perspective, but Hard Knocks viewers are definitely going to miss out on some of the show’s typical training camp bubble player features.
The NFL and NFLPA are continuing to work hard to ensure that players can come back in the safest possible environment. Additional changes and rules are expected to be announced as training camps inch closer to opening. As the entire country keeps an eye on the spread of Covid-19 and considers what it means for schools and jobs, it would be a nice win for everyone if the NFL is able to make it all the way back for a full regular season. Did anyone like preseason games anyway?
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