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NFL opt-outs continue to rise amid Covid-19 pandemic

A larger than expected number of NFL players have decided to opt-out of the upcoming season due to concerns over the spread of Covid-19 across the United States.

On July 24, the National Football League (NFL) and NFL Players Association (NFLPA), came to an agreement on opt-out rules which allows players to not participate in the 2020 NFL season, as a result of Covid-19 concerns. Players who opt out will still receive salaries with players who wish to opt-out voluntarily receiving $150,000 and players who opt out as a result of being at high medical risk will receive $350,000. Undrafted rookies who opt out voluntarily will not receive any salary.

The first NFL player to opt-out of the season was Chiefs guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif due to Covid-19 concerns. Duvernay-Tardif is the only player with a medical degree and released a statement: "Given the worldwide sanitary crisis we are currently experiencing, the NFL and the NFLPA have agreed to significant health and safety protocols to protect the players. There is no doubt in my mind the Chiefs' medical staff have put together a strong plan to minimize the health risks associated with COVID-19 but some risks will remain,"

"Being at the frontline during this offseason has given me a different perspective on this pandemic and the stress it puts on individuals and our healthcare system. I cannot allow myself to potentially transmit the virus in our communities simply to play the sport that I love. If I am to take risks, I will do it caring for patients."

On July 28, the final group of players returned to training camps with veteran players returning with rookies, injured players and quarterbacks returning the weeks previous. The teams have ensured safety measures are in place to protect players during training camps, which includes reduced numbers in gyms and locker rooms.

Players must make their decision, if they wish to opt-out, by August 4.

Joe Ellis, Broncos President commented: “The opt-out option is a player’s choice and a player’s right, and we’ll respect that if a player decides to do that, that’s absolutely, 100 percent their right, inherently. I’ve got no objection to that at all and would be supportive of that, if that’s what somebody wants to do. That’s been going on around the league, as you’ve seen. It’s going around and around other sports leagues, as well.”

“I had some good conversations ... and they were very, very curious. I don’t want to say concerned, but they wanted to know what was going to happen and how it was going to be handled, things like that. It’s at the front of their minds.”

Dr James Voos, Browns team physician says: “(I) Wasn’t quite sure exactly what number would come in, but the biggest thing to consider is players taking care of both themselves, as well as their families, and each player has their own unique circumstance, we feel that it is our job to help to guide them through it, serve as a trusted healthcare adviser and allow them to ultimately make that decision themselves.”

Author: Bradleigh Amis