Report: Multiple NFL players could refuse to play this season due to COVID-19

By Matt Johnson
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The 2020 NFL Draft is in the books and now the focus around the league turns to the upcoming season. However, despite belief around the league that there will be an NFL season in 2020, there are now fears some players may not take part.

According to Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman, there are now multiple coaches speculating across the NFL that several players will refuse to practice or even play until they feel safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Even as the league discusses playing in empty stadiums, players are still concerned about potentially increasing risking the health of themselves and their families in an NFL season.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced on Thursday that the league still plans to start the season on time. League officials are already discussing contingency plans if the health crisis continues across the country, including ongoing talks for a quarantined season.

The NFL is already seemingly prepared to hold games early this season without fans in attendance, a likelihood that would come with mass gatherings still restricted without a vaccine for COVID-19.

While the expectation remains that an NFL season will be played, there are questions around the league about just when the season will start. Multiple team executives and head coaches have privately indicated they expect the 2020 season to be delayed.

As of Sunday morning, there are more than 940,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States. According to recent data, 4.5% of deaths due to COVID-19 in the United States come in the 18-44 age group with 23.1% coming for those between the ages of 45-64.

The data shows that both professional athletes and especially NFL coaches would be at risk, especially those with medical conditions that make them more prone to getting COVID-19 or suffering far more severe symptoms than their peers.

Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller and Los Angeles Rams center Brian Allen became the first two known NFL players to have the coronavirus. Meanwhile, New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton recently recovered from having COVID-19.

If there are NFL personnel, either players or coaches, that don’t feel safe returning to football without complete trust they would be safe then the NFL will have a significant problem on its hands. For now, NFL teams are preparing for the upcoming season with virtual meetings and workouts.

However, training camp is just a few months away and that could be a major indicator of who might sit out if the COVID-19 pandemic doesn’t improve.