On “Opting Out”…

| July 31st, 2020

Tuesday, Eddie Goldman opted out of the 2020 NFL season. He wasn’t alone. He was joined by essentially the whole of the New England Patriots.

So why are players punching out of this season? A few things to remember about Covid-19.

First, this disease disproportionately impacts black and brown communities and roughly 70% of NFL players are black. While most of these young men will be unaffected by the disease, we still don’t know what the long-term impacts on the body come from the diagnosis.

Second, it’s not only about the health of the players themselves. These are young men and they have parents and grandparents dealing with the exact comorbidities that make them gravely susceptible to this virus. And cutting off from those relatives for a five-month period is simply a non-starter for most.

When a receiver in peak physical condition is exposed to the virus, he’ll likely see little to no health impact. When his diabetic mother is exposed, her life is at risk. That’s the decision these athletes face heading into 2020.

Does it suck for teams and fans? Of course it does. The NFL’s tight salary cap does not allow for depth at most positions. When Goldman opts out of the coming season, there isn’t another Goldman in the wings.

Does it suck for writers like me? It sure does. It’s getting a awfully difficult to engage this season with any real intensity when it feels like we’re one bad news story from the whole thing collapsing.

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The Pandemic Photo Gallery (Because…why not?)

| May 22nd, 2020

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On Covid-19 and the Potential Impact on the 2020 NFL

| April 2nd, 2020

For those of you who don’t know, I live in Woodside, Queens (NY). That’s less than a mile from Elmhurst Hospital, the current epicenter of the Covid-19 pandemic. This thing has pretty much consumed my brain and kept me from seriously sleeping for weeks. Thankfully, I have this site. So here’s what all this craziness could mean to the NFL season.

  • The schedule release is delayed until May 9th. Normally the schedule release is one of my favorite days of the year, as it sets a lot of my travel schedule for the coming fall and winter. But there is a 0% chance the NFL will know what it’s looking at for this summer and fall by May 9th. (The peaks or apexes of the virus won’t be reached in several areas of the country until late May, early June.) It’ll be the latter by the time the league knows when the season will start and – most importantly for them – when it will finish. How can anyone make travel plans with any confidence? How can teams do any kind of serious prep?
  • There’s no way the NFL season will begin without an off-season program. What that off-season program will look like is another conversation. Nobody in the league would bemoan the cancellation of the entire preseason. But without a several-week practice period, how are coaches expected to get teams ready for action? Says a league insider I often refer to as [REDACTED], “We can’t do anything with less than three weeks.”
  • Like many of you, I have consumed more information about Covid-19 than a non-epidemiologist should. And I have yet to find a single doctor who believes the virus will NOT be coming back this fall/winter. (Dr. Fauci confirmed so much at a briefing this week.) What does that mean for the league? What will their contingency plans be? Are they really going to pile thousands upon thousands of people into tight buildings and just hope the virus stays away? We’re all hoping there are medical and testing advancements by this period. But that’s all this is: hope.

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