As we inch closer to the start of training camp, the NFL has begun to release more details on how they will conduct the 2020 season in a safe manner due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. On Thursday, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported that all 32 teams received updated game-day protocols — which included a prohibition on any players exchanging jerseys as well as a ban on any postgame interactions of any kind within six feet of each other. This development appeared to have struck a nerve with players, however, as many responded with dissenting opinions on Twitter.
New Houston Texans wide receiver Randall Cobb tweeted “this has to be a joke,” accompanied with a gif featuring a confused Russell Westbrook. Los Angeles Chargers offensive guard Trai Turner also was put off by Pelissero’s report.
The swapping of jerseys has become a tradition in the NFL, just like gathering midfield for a postgame prayer. The players use this time to catch up with old friends, college teammates and just other stars who are looking to swap jerseys with other players.
“This is a perfect example of NFL thinking in a nutshell,” Sherman wrote. “Players can go engage in a full contact game and do it safely. However, it is deemed unsafe for them to exchange jerseys after said game.”
The postgame restrictions aren’t the only additions to game-day protocol, per Pelissero. Wednesday’s memo reportedly also prohibited any on-field fan seating during games, as well as any media access to player locker rooms, and dictated that both teams must travel to their stadium via bus as opposed to personal vehicles. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport also reports that everyone besides players and coaches on team sidelines will be required to wear a mask throughout the 2020 season.
The NFL and NFL Players Association remain in talks regarding the 2020 season, but it’s clear players aren’t exactly thrilled with some of the early developments concerning safety protocols.