NFL Owners and Players Ratify Stringent COVID Testing Protocol

J.J. Watt's tweet got some major issues addressed by the league on Monday.
J.J. Watt's tweet got some major issues addressed by the league on Monday.
Photo by Eric Sauseda
Keep Houston Press Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.

Heading into Monday morning, when we last checked in on the efforts to start training camp in the NFL and get on with a 2020 season, the league had issued a memo advising all players to report by July 28. The players then responded with a storm of Sunday morning tweets, all adorned with the hashtag #WeWantToPlay, and demanding that the owners establish some strict protocols to make the players' return as safe as possible.

As he did during the previous week, Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt led the way by outlining all of the open health and safety-related topics in his tweet:

Sunday afternoon was then spent with social media abuzz over the players' collective salvo fired at the owners, and the situation between the two sides being perceived as a slowly rising boil. Fans and media wondered "Why have the owners waited this long to implement safety protocols? Why did they waste so much time?"

As it turns out, the answer to that question may not matter, and whether the players' tweets spurred action doesn't really matter either. The bottom line is that the two sides were able to cross off the most important action item on Watt's list, as they were able to nail down some pretty stringent testing protocols designed to minimize (as best possible) the exposure and spread of the coronavirus in and around NFL stadiums.

Courtesy of Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, here is the memo from the league:

For their part, the players' announcement of these COVID-19 testing procedures indicates they are satisfied with this facet of the health and safety protocols:

The owners had been offering COVID testing every OTHER day, and the players were dug in on the need for daily testing. To me, this always felt like a "no brainer" for the owners to give in on this demand. The nature of football, with all of its close contact and complete opposite of social distancing on the field (spitting, sweating, heavy breathing on one another in crowds), of all the sports, was going to require maximum vigilance in testing players prior to entering the stadium or seeing the field. This was a hugely positive move to ensuring we get a season.

In one other significant concession from owners, they have reportedly offered to cancel all of the preseason games:

This one is much more surprising, to me, than the concession on daily testing for COVID. While the preseason games do regenerate some trickle of revenue (far less with no fans in the stands, granted), I thought the owners would demand at least a game or two from the players for both evaluation purposes and for the purpose of getting a trial run with game day COVID safety procedures prior to the regular season.

There are still more issues to be worked on, but the players look like they are getting two big wins in their negotiation, which makes me wonder what atomic bomb is lurking around the corner from the owners when ti comes to negotiating things like future salary caps or player stipends in the event the season gets cancelled.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.