Three-time Pro Bowler Malcolm Jenkins not comfortable playing until COVID-19 risk is ‘eliminated’

By Jesse Reed
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Echoing what other NFL stars have said recently, Malcolm Jenkins isn’t feeling great about playing football amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Malcolm Jenkins: The NFL is ‘a nonessential business’

On Thursday morning, appearing on CNN, the New Orleans Saints safety delved into a sticky subject. Mainly, he’s concerned that there aren’t going to be enough safeguards in place to keep players from potentially spreading the coronavirus to their families.

Jenkins compared the NFL to the NBA and made it clear he’s nervous about the way his league is handling the approach to playing during the pandemic.

“The NBA is a lot different than the NFL because they can actually quarantine all of their players, or whoever is going to participate,” said Jenkins. “Where we (the NFL) have over 2,000 players, more coaches and staff, we can’t do that. So we’ll end up being on this trust system, an honor system, where we just have to hope that guys are social distancing and things like that. That puts all of us at risk. Not only us as players and who’s in the building, but when you go home to your families. I have parents that I don’t want to get sick.”

Then Jenkins really laid out the bottom line:

“Until we get to the point where we have protocols in place and we can get to the place as a country where we feel safe doing it, we have to understand as a country that football is a non-essential business. We don’t need to do it. So the risk has to be really eliminated before I would feel comfortable going back.”

This sentiment was shared by All-Pro running back Ezekiel Elliott on Wednesday. Elliott, who tested positive for COVID-19, believes the NFL needs to address player safety and health more than it has before launching the 2020 season.

Other players have expressed concern about trying to play this fall as well.

NFL already canceled the Hall of Fame Game and induction ceremony

There’s a growing sense that the NFL will at the least truncate the preseason in 2020. Reports have emerged that there will only be two games, rather than four, to help teams ramp-up to the new way of doing business.

Then on Thursday morning, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the 2020 Hall of Fame Game between the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers has been canceled. Additionally the 2020 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony was pushed to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This news had everyone wondering the same thing.

Will the NFL schedule go on as planned?

Currently, the NFL is preparing for the 2020 NFL season to take place on time, as it has been planned on the schedule. Additionally, there’s some hope around the league that fans will be allowed inside stadiums to watch games take place.

However, as COVID-19 cases are starting to spike nationally, doubt is creeping in. Some coaches have expressed a desire to postpone the season, and of course players have begun voicing their concerns about playing in this environment.

So the answer to the question “Will the NFL happen?” in 2020 remains murky.