NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced Monday that NFL franchises would need to delay the start of their offseason programs indefinitely. The decision is based on discussions with NFL Players Association (NFLPA) executive director DeMaurice Smith, their medical teams and public health official guidance.
As a result, these special procedures will be in place beginning with the new season.
How does this impact offseason programs?
The franchises and their players will continue to follow medical and public health professional guidance, including their respective medical advisors. As a result, no offseason team activities will take place.
April 6 was the scheduled date for teams with new head coaches. April 20 was the scheduled date for all other teams. There will be periodic meetings and reassessments of the situation to determine an appropriate kickoff date for all offseason activities.
NFLPA medical director Dr. Thom Mayer, with NFL chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills, will consult with the Duke Infection Control Outreach Network over the next several weeks. Mayer and Sills are consulting with other league and NFLPA advisors on infectious disease control.
The consults will lead to the development of a standard protocol for franchises. The protocol should offer a directive on cleaning and maintenance, equipment prep, infection symptom signs, and other preventative measures.
How does this change impact free agent travel and medical procedures?
No franchise will be allowed to bring free agents to club facilities to meet with club personnel. This begins on the first day of free agency – Wednesday, March 18. Therefore, this rule includes outside travel by club personnel and medical staff.
Teams to review the medical records of a player currently or about to enter free agency. In other words, there are potentially two options:
- Firstly, the team reviews existing medical records from the free agent’s previous team.
- Secondly, the player will need to arrange for a medical exam in their home city or nearby location. After that, the medical records would be made available to interested teams.
Work on these protocols is underway by the NFL and NFLPA. This coincides with guidelines set Friday regarding team contact with draft-eligible college players.
How does this impact access to team facilities?
Franchises will close their facilities to players for two weeks. However, this is except for players undergoing supervised rehabilitation and treatment. As a result, this limits the chances for infection but also allowing those undergoing rehab and treatment to heal fully.
“It is our responsibility to work together and protect the health, safety and well being of everyone in our business,” states Smith.
Citing recent guidance from health officials and medical advisors of the league and union, Goodell stated, “We believe this is the appropriate way to protect the health of our players, staff, and our communities.”
“[Nonetheless,] public safety is paramount during this emergency,” Smith adds. The NFLPA will continue to work with the league, medical experts, and Federal agency guidance to adjust business practices as needed.
In addition, Goodell states that they will continue to make decisions based on the advice they receive from medical and public health experts.
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