American football players from opposing teams in the National Football League (NFL) will be forbidden to swap jerseys after games once the 2020 season kicks off, according to proposed game-day protocols by the league and the NFL Players Association (NFLPA).
Teams will be “prohibited from post-game interactions within 6 feet [1.8 metres] of one another” according to the new protocol, details of which emerged on Thursday.
According to the NFL network, the document, which in conjunction with other Covid-19 protocols is set to apply to the 2020 NFL pre-season and season games, was distributed to clubs on Wednesday. The new rules would prohibit fans from on-field seating and ban media from locker rooms.
On match day, anyone with bench access would be screened pre-game and have their temperature checked. Anyone with a temperature over 38C or who was potentially exposed to the new coronavirus would not be allowed into the stadium.
Coaches and players “who are not substituting into the game” would be “strongly encouraged to wear masks on the side lines,” the document said. Some players have slammed the social distancing measures outlined by the proposal. “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,” San Francisco 49ers veteran Richard Sherman tweeted.
Sherman’s objection was echoed by Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Darius Slay.
“So we can tackle each other for 60 mins but can’t exchange jersey that takes 2 mins,” Slay said in a tweet closing the message with crying laughing emojis.
Star quarterback Deshaun Watson of the Houston Texans called the measures “DAMN SILLY” in another tweet before replying to a since-deleted tweet challenging his comment:
“So have you ever played in a professional football game before? So you don’t think when you get tackled sweat and saliva isn’t there? Or during timeouts or in a huddle or in between plays guys aren’t talking to each other face to face? I need better facts to get it,” Watson wrote. The 2020 season is scheduled to kick off as planned pre-pandemic on September 10 with the Super Bowl winners Kansas City Chiefs hosting the Texans. The Super Bowl is set to be held on February 7, 2021.
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