NFL Players Who Contract Coronavirus at 'High-Risk' Events Subject to Discipline, Lack of Pay

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As part of the league's new rules surrounding COVID-19, NFL players who contract the coronavirus while attending "high-risk" events will be subject to team discipline and potentially not receive pay checks, according to ESPN's Dan Graziano.

Graziano reports that a memo sent by the NFLPA to agents goes over several rules regarding player contracts, opt-out provisions and the ramifications of a canceled season. The final language of the agreement is still being worked out, but what has been agreed upon is that players will be held accountable for how they interact in public settings as the pandemic persists.

The memo obtained by ESPN outlines examples of what would be considered high-risk events, including indoor nightclubs or bars (other than picking up food to-go), indoor music concerts, professional sporting events and house parties, all with an upper limit of 15 people. Also included is attending indoor religious services that are attended by 25% of the venue's capacity.

Should a player contract the coronavirus as a result of engaging in these activities, his team could challenge the status of a COVID-19 diagnosis as a football injury, and therefore allow the team the option to not pay him. The memo says that this issue "remains open."

The following issues were also addressed in the memo:

  • If at least one week of the NFL season is played, players who are on a team's Week 1 roster or practice squad will receive a full year credited for the purpose of pension and free agency eligibility.
  • $17 million in player benefits were canceled, though they will be repaid through a new benefit after 2023.
  • Players who opt out because they are in a higher-risk medical category will receive a $350,000 stipend and a year toward free agency. Teams must offer separate housing to a player who has a high-risk person living with them.
  • If the 2020 season is canceled before teams make their final training camp cuts, players who are on training camp rosters and earned a 2019 season credit or was a draftee in 2020 will receive a $250,000 stipend and health insurance. Players who were not undrafted in 2020 or did not receive full credit in 2019 will get a $50,000 stipend.