News broke today that the SEC is telling unpaid college players that the 2020 season will continue as planned in spite of the fact that they expect each and every team to have COVID-19 breakouts. SEC football players are expected to weather the storm while tasked with attending class with the wider student body.
It really is not about the SEC players. The season will continue with or without them.
The NFL is taking the same plan, even though there is so much still undecided and undetermined about player safety. Apparently, players have to figure out if they want to risk playing this season and they have to figure it out right now.
Opt-out deadline for NFL players is now expected to be moved up to either Tuesday or Wednesday, per league sources, depending on talks this weekend. NFL is pushing to move up the deadline from one week after the new CBA side-letter is signed, and it now is expected even sooner.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 1, 2020
One college player asked the SEC about the lasting health effects of contracting COVID-19. The SEC did not have that information, because this is a novel coronavirus and doctors and researchers are learning more about it each day. What happens when an SEC player ends up with ongoing health issues? What happens if an NFL player is infected on the field and it effectively ends their career?
We still do not know. Despite many still thinking COVID-19 is like the flu in the face of so much information proving that to be untrue, even the young, healthy, and athletic are experiencing ongoing physical ailments.
Boston Red Sox pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez was shut down for the remainder of the season on Saturday due to lingering heart inflammation after a positive coronavirus test last month. Players, even those like 27-year-old Rodriguez, a professional athlete, were at risk of lung scarring, heart damage, and perhaps other ailments still not fully known.
Major League Baseball is already postponing games after being completely unable to predict and prevent outbreaks. The MLB has the same plan as the NFL: Just hope everything works out so they can salvage the season. Ignore the costlier plan put together that has worked so far by the NBA, MLS, and NHL. After all, this season is happening. The players need to figure it out and figure it out ASAP, without so much as a full understanding of the risk to themselves, their loved ones, and their careers.
There are TV deals at stake.
The Falcons are so far untouched from opt outs. So far, 38 players have opted out, including big names like C.J. Mosley and Dont’a Hightower, while five Falcons have been put on the reserve/COVID-19 list, along with big-name players from other teams, like Matt Stafford.
The league expects players to make a career-altering decision in the next few days. Despite the NFL having the luxury of time to come up with an effective plan, the plan is just to hope everything would work out and the money would continue rolling in. That plan is failing, and now the plan is to... hope everything will work out and the money will continue rolling in.
Players should be given a full understanding of the dangers as we understand them today, what physical protections will be available for players, and who will accept the financial risks in case a player suffers lasting physical problems.
Instead, the NFL wants players to figure it out right now. Lets hope players understand this is more than “just the flu” before risking their pro careers so the owners are not forced to delay the season.