NFL players who take part in what the league is calling ‘high risk’ activities and contract the coronavirus while doing so could face disciplinary action including a possibility of not being paid.
According to ESPN, a memo was sent by the NFLPA to player agents over the weekend that outlines rules governing player contracts and consequences of a canceled season. The memo laid out a summary of COVID amendments while also stating the fact that players will be held responsible “for the way they circulate in public while the coronavirus remains present.”
Players were told weeks ago on a conference call with NFLPA leadership that they could face discipline, including fines, for conduct detrimental to the team if they are found to have contracted COVID-19 through reckless activity away from the facility. This weekend’s memo reinforces that and says that such activity could allow a team to challenge the status of a COVID-19 diagnosis as a football injury.
If such a challenge were to succeed, presumably the team could place the player on the non-football injury list, a move that would allow the team the option of not paying him.
This is the list of activities that fall into the leagues’ ‘high risk’ category:
• 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
The memo reportedly states that both individual teams and the league can challenge a ‘football-related injury’ if it can prove that the player contracted COVID-19 after engaging in one of the high risk activities listed above.
The league will have a COVID-19-specific injured reserve list, but given this new memo, it looks like the league will be investigating players that do wind up on the list.