The NFL‘s guidelines in the COVID-19 era has been met with a flurry of critique.
Tom Pelissero tweeted Wednesday morning that “NFL teams will be forbidden from postgame interactions within 6 feet of each other and jersey exchanges between players will be prohibited during the 2020 season, sources say. Another way the NFL will look different in the COVID-19 world.”
That means no handshakes. No jersey exchanges. Maybe a nod across the field as a gesture of a good game, but nothing that would bring players within six feet of each other after the game.
The irony is that the NFL has yet to address the dangers of playing the game itself. The three hours of contact in between where players can sweat, bleed and spit on the playing surface and transfer bodily fluids on each down has yet to be addressed.
The prevailing train of thought is that if a player is willing to put his health at risk and play, he should be able to shake his opponent’s hand who has taken that same risk.
The protocols were agreed upon by both the NFL and NFL Players Association and issued to teams last night, per Pelissero. Among other notable changes include: media personnel will not be allowed in locker rooms, no on-field fan seating is allowed and both teams must travel to the stadium by bus.
Ian Rapoport said that players and coaches on the sidelines will not be required to wear masks, while any other personnel on the sidelines will be required to. The two NFL reporters discussed the memo’s protocols further which mentioned players would have to be six feet apart in locker rooms or have Plexiglas in between their stalls.
From NFL Now: Along with jersey swaps being prohibited, how else will game days look different? In a few ways… pic.twitter.com/ReaIvsHEwX
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) July 9, 2020
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Minnesota Vikings & Other NFLers React
Minnesota Vikings linebacker’s one-word response to Pelissero’s tweet sparked a storm of responses offering suggestions of how the NFL will address player contact during the game.
Going to end up playing the season in giant hamster balls.
— That Blue Bastard (@ThatBlueBastard) July 9, 2020
Sarcasm seemed to be a common remedy among fans reacting to the protocols.
Come on @AnthonyBarr … Covid-19 doesn't have an affect when the ball is in play… Duh
— Tyrone (@ASwiftHobo) July 9, 2020
Vikings running back Ameer Abdullah’s tweet saw similar responses, but a few fans did see some logic in the NFL’s announcement, saying that often players at the same position don’t come into contact with each other and limiting that interaction could be helpful.
I imagine the logic is to reduce interactions between players that have not previously had contact with each other. A lot of jersey swaps and post-game interactions are between players that never touch each other during the game? That's how I read it anyway. 🤷♂️
— Le Adder Noir (@Adder_Iffic) July 9, 2020
Rookie wide receiver Justin Jefferson responded via Instagram “I’m taking the fine, I’m sorry I need them.”
Vikings defensive back Nate Meadors retweeted San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman’s take on the situation.
This is a perfect example of NFL thinking in a nutshell. Players can go engage in a full contact game and do it safely. However, it is deemed unsafe for them to exchange jerseys after said game. 😂🤣😂 https://t.co/fWefsUSVDc
— Richard Sherman (@RSherman_25) July 9, 2020
One fan suggested that the NFL could put in more uniform requirements that’ll mitigate the exposure to bodily fluids.
Perception to the public. But also we don’t know what the uniform rules will be. Entirely possible all must wear long sleeve shirts and gloves. Novody has asked that I’ve seen yet. I’m sure the plastic face guards will be required as well.
— Kevin Albanese (@Kmalbanese) July 9, 2020
Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson called the rule “silly.”
thats DAMN SILLY bro.. 🤦🏾♂️ https://t.co/QDOwn2G3bc
— Deshaun Watson (@deshaunwatson) July 9, 2020
As jerseys have become sweat mops after 60 minutes of game time, some fans suggested players simply take their jerseys home, wash them and send them to the player they want to exchange with.
Pelissero pointed out that these rules are all in regards to the most recent scientific discoveries and as the country learns more about coronavirus, adjustments could be made.
Follow Trevor Squire on Twitter: @trevordsquire