In a league-wide memo sent to the 32 teams on Wednesday night and obtained by CNN, the National Football League has outlined specific game day protocols for the upcoming preseason.
With the exception of players and coaches, everyone on the sideline bench area will be required to wear a mask. Those players not substituting into the game are strongly encouraged to wear a face covering. The league says it will provide disposable masks within the bench area.
The cover letter accompanying the 11-page memorandum states that the NFL Players Association has agreed to the game mandates. It also acknowledges that the protocols surrounding the screening and testing of players has yet to be finalized.
On Tuesday, union president and Cleveland Browns center JC Tretter tweeted, “The NFLs unwillingness to follow the recommendations of its own experts will put this season and the safety of all players at risk.”
Here's what else was included in the guidelines:
- All players, coaches and staff must maintain a physical distance of at least six feet within the bench area and during post-game interactions. Players are prohibited from signing autographs or taking photos with fans.
- Players, coaches and staff are not allowed to share towels, food or clothing and will no longer be allowed to swap jerseys after the preseason games.
- All on-the-field entertainment, including mascots and cheerleaders, will need to be approved by the NFL and required to pass screening and Covid-19 testing before performing.
- All home teams are required to overnight at a team hotel prior to the next day’s game.
Some players reacted to the protocols on social media – specifically the ban of jersey exchanges.
The San Francisco 49ers Richard Sherman tweeted on Thursday, “This is a perfect example of NFL thinking in a nutshell. 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.”
Philadelphia Eagles Darius Slay posted Thursday, “So we can tackle each other for 60min but can’t exchange jersey that takes 2 mins.”