As negotiations between the NFL and NFL Players Association continue ahead of training camps scheduled to begin on July 28, an injury classification could hold things up and, potentially, cause delays in preparations.
On Wednesday, ESPN’s Dan Graziano confirmed previous reports of the NFLPA wishing to eliminate all preseason games due to concerns regarding the worsening coronavirus pandemic, as well as the union’s desire to financially protect players who wish to opt out of participating in a 2020 season.
Graziano added that the league’s current return-to-play proposal includes listing a positive coronavirus test result as a non-football injury. This is an issue because, per the terms of the current collective bargaining agreement, clubs aren’t required to pay any players placed on a Non-Football Injury list.
The NFLPA has already insisted the CBA includes no “force majeure” clause. Theoretically, the union could look to designate coronavirus and coronavirus-related absences as football-related risks, since it’s no secret a fall season would be conducted during an uncontrolled virus outbreak without the existence of a proven and widely available vaccine.
Furthermore, it’s practically guaranteed coronavirus tests wouldn’t be able to determine the starting point of a potential virus outbreak among a squad, especially if a handful of players all tested positive within the same period.
Either owners, players or both could look to postpone the start of the season amid fears of rising coronavirus spikes and an incoming second virus wave.