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NFL sets Thursday opt-out deadline for all players

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Dozens have opted out, and more names will undoubtedly be added to the list by 4 p.m. Thursday.

NFL: DEC 22 Steelers at Jets Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

A few dozen players have opted out of playing in the NFL this season against the backdrop of COVID-19, with those players citing a variety of concerns ranging from exposing their families to a level of discomfort with the league’s planning to this point. That is not particularly surprising, given the way we’ve seen things go sideways...

/gestures everywhere

...in the larger world, where other leagues have shut down, outbreaks flare up in different parts of the country more or less constantly, and things as basic as staying a few feet apart and wearing a mask have been incorporated into the rolling American argument. It’s difficult to blame any player who sees what’s going on with Eduardo Rodriguez, the Red Sox pitcher who developed inflammation in his heart after his COVID-19 infection, and not want to take that kind of chance. With any luck, they’ll be back for a full, less bizarre 2021 season.

While dozens have opted out, soon the NFL is no longer going to allow it, unless perhaps a player or family member gets COVID-19 and chooses to take the year off after that point. It turns out it’s a little more stringent than I even expected on that front.

The deadline is this Thursday afternoon.

Per a transcript from the team, Dan Quinn said yesterday that he has not had any conversations about opting out with any Falcons yet, and indeed Atlanta has not had a single player appear on the list, unlike most other teams in the NFL. That could change between now and the deadline, obviously, but generally speaking the Falcons have had relatively few players hit the reserve/COVID-19 list and no one choosing not to play. At least yet.

There’ll be more names on the list before all is said and done, whether they’re Falcons or not, because players will be weighing the risks and getting a closer look at training camp and even looking at the NFL’s fairly strict guidelines for going out in the age of COVID and perhaps deciding it’s not all worth it.

We’ll see what’s to come between now and Thursday at 4 p.m., but our enduring hope is that players, coaches, and team staff remain healthy and that we get some football this year. Let’s keep that hope rolling.