LA Rams News: How many players will “opt-out” by August 1st?

(Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)
(Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images) /

LA Rams News: The NFL is affording players the opportunity to opt-out by August 1st. How many players will “opt-out”?

The NFL now appears to be following the lead of other professional sports by creating an off-ramp to the 2020 NFL season for football players who perceive the risks to themselves or their families to be too great for this season. As other professional sports have taken steps to limit the risks to athletes and their families, the NFL now appears to be syncing up with a similar strategy. Thanks to the tireless efforts of NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, who has remained abreast of so many rapid developments in the NFL on the matter, any player may opt-out of the 2020 NFL season with a written notice by August 1, 2020.

That certainly does open the conversation up to a host of new questions, such as how with that player be financially penalized for electing to opt-out? What relief or penalties will a player opting-out trigger for the team? Will players benefit from salary credits for 2020, or will they need to exist on savings for the year?  Will teams create salary credits to spend on new players, or will the team need to find new players with whatever funds are currently available?

Show up, or opt-out? That is the question

So many questions. But isn’t that the way of the pioneer? After all, we are all pioneers now. Each of us is learning, creating, or adapting to new ways of doing things. And it’s driven towards one purpose – a 2020 NFL season – but from different perspectives. The NFL is aiming at financial solvency, while the NFLPA is aiming towards player health and safety. Why else would so many star players begin a coordinated effort to force the NFL to clarify and adopt strict health and safety rules prior to training camp on July 28th? Players like the LA Rams Aaron Donald, for example, who have taken to twitter to raise the issue? NFC West Rival Russell Willson is making a similar appeal on twitter, do you believe as many do that it is a concerted effort by the NFLPA?

The likelihood of a 2020 NFL season requires plenty of assurances for staff and player safety which, frankly, have not yet been addressed.  Yes, there have been discussions about creating an “opt-out” option for players, but little details as to how that works. It also gives players an either/or option to either show-up or remains out of the entire 2020 NFL season. That includes All-Pro stars like the Rams Aaron Donald. It could, in fact, include a significant number of players from the same team. What happens if too many players opt-out from the same team?

Family over fortune

Many players face an impossible choice. Football is their passion, their dream. But they have committed to protecting loved ones – wives, children, elderly parents or siblings – who may be among the high-risk population of contracting COVID-19.  Football is a contact sport. The very nature of this sport carries an almost certainty that players will contract and transmit the disease to one another. This disease can infect players without any symptoms, be carried to others, and be deadly to the next victims.  Without a proven cure, the best we can do is limit how quickly it is spread to ensure we do not overwhelm healthcare resources.

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The NFL and NFLPA appear to be growing far apart over health concerns for the 2020 NFL season. Players feel that the health risks are borne by them alone, and are digging in their heels until concrete plans to eliminate health risks are in place. The NFL ownership sees great financial peril if the 2020 NFL season does not occur, and are insisting that health risks will be resolved as they are encountered throughout the season.  That answer does not seem to be good enough now. Will football happen this year?  It’s always been at risk of not happening. The chances of it happening “as is” seem to be getting smaller all the time.