The NFL will continue to allow teams to house players in hotel rooms who may live with roommates or family members, but the league won’t be requiring mandatory playoff bubbles according to a memo acquired by ESPN.
The NFL adopting a playoff bubble similar to what the NBA did has been an idea floating around for practically the entire regular season, but it’s clear that the league has elected to stay the course and finish the campaign as originally planned. The league has not had to cancel one game all season and certainly has this year’s Super Bowl, scheduled for Feb. 7, set in stone.
As for why the NFL won’t be moving to playoff bubbles, the league’s chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills has said that the chance for a team outbreak would probably be higher inside a bubble if an infection occurred with all the players and staff living in the same building. The NFL and NFLPA also reportedly grew concerned about the mental health implications of isolating their personnel for weeks or even a month during the holiday season.
The memo that was sent out to teams on Tuesday did include a few new wrinkles when it comes to COVID protocols including the fact that road teams will be allowed to use two airplanes for traveling to their postseason games. Two planes are always better than one, we all know this.
According to USA Today, the NFL’s Finance Committee approved the reimbursement for teams to use two separate planes. The memo stated that teams should “assign seating strategically” during flights as well.
The memo also indicated that daily testing must continue for seven days after the completion of a team’s season. Return-to-play protocols for asymptomatic individuals have also been changed. Players will no longer be allowed to return after two consecutive negative tests and instead must wait a full 10 days after the positive specimen was passed while also getting clearance from a physician.