NFLPA Estimates $3B In Losses If Games Forced To Be Fan-Less
The NFLPA said that the revenue loss from games in empty stadiums "would likely be in the neighborhood" of $3B, according to Michael David Smith of PRO FOOTBALL TALK. That is "not quite as bad as a previous report that pegged the revenue decline from empty stadiums" at $5.5B, but it is "still a major decline." Given that the salary cap is determined through a calculation of league revenues, a "substantial decline for the owners would also become a substantial decline for the players." That means both sides will be "motivated to find a way to make the season work, with fans in the stands." Empty stadiums "would cost everyone a lot" (NBCSPORTS.com, 6/15).
PLANNING PROTOCOLS: ESPN.com's Jeremy Fowler cited a source as saying that the NFLPA "said players could be tested roughly every three days for the virus and isolated if testing positive." The union said that it is "working with the NFL on return-to-work protocols for players." Multiple league execs said that they "loosely expect teams to report to training camp in late July, as planned, but an extended ramp-up period of testing, conditioning and football activities could replace the first two preseason games." Fowler reported quarantining players before they take the practice field "has been discussed." Moving up training camp also "has been discussed, but most agree players wouldn't go for that, with little incentive for further virus exposure." The new CBA "has a force majeure clause, which frees both sides from liability in the case of an extraordinary event such as a pandemic." That means the NFL and NFLPA can "negotiate how to assuage the salary-cap losses" in '21 (ESPN.com, 6/15). NFLPA Medical Dir Dr. Thom Mayer confirmed that the plan is to "conduct coronavirus tests on players three times a week and that he’s about 90% certain that reliable saliva-based testing will be available in time for the start of training camp in late July" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 6/16).
COMPLICATED SCENARIO: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Beaton & Bachman write football is "incompatible with social distancing," as it "relies on a large share of people, despite their relatively young ages, who could face a disproportionate risk of severe complications from the coronavirus." The NFLPA's ongoing research indicates that "more than 70% of NFL players fall into a serious, at-risk category, such as being African-American or having a high body-mass index." Beaton & Bachman: "Football is the country’s most popular sport -- the richest one at the professional level and the one that drives budgets in high school and college -- and it also faces the most complexities for a return to action" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 6/16).