NFL players who contract the coronavirus through "high-risk" activity away from team facilities can face team discipline and might be at risk of not being paid, according to the league's new protocol.
A memo sent by the NFLPA to agents this weekend, a copy of which was obtained by ESPN, outlines several rules governing player contracts, opt-out provisions and the contractual consequences of a canceled season.
The memo says that the final language of Friday's agreement between the league and the players will appear in a side letter that is still being negotiated and that the information distributed this weekend represents "a summary of major aspects of the COVID amendments." The basics have been dealt with, and the final section of the memo is devoted to the fact that players will be held responsible for the way they circulate in public while the coronavirus remains present.
The memo also states: "Clubs/NFL can challenge designation as a football related injury if it can prove that the player contracted COVID-19 through engaging in high risk conduct below. (This issue remains open.)"
Per the memo, the NFL defines high-risk conduct as attending:
• an indoor nightclub with more than 15 people
• an indoor bar with more than 15 people, other than to pick up food
• an indoor house party with more than 15 people
• an indoor music concert/entertainment event with more than 15 people
• a professional sporting event, other than applicable NFL games or events, with more than 15 people
• an indoor religious service attended by more than 25% of a venue's capacity
"Players are going to have to be careful outside the building," Los Angeles Rams tackle Andrew Whitworth said last week on a conference call after disclosing that he and his entire family got the virus after one of them went to lunch with a friend. "All it takes is one exposure, and it can spread like wildfire."
The NFL plans to begin its schedule on time, September 10.
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