NFL, union ban free-agent travel,
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[March 17, 2020]
The National Football League and
NFL Players Association jointly announced Monday that offseason
activities will be postponed or altered due to the spread of the
The declaration came eight hours after the NFL's "legal tampering"
window for free agents opened, with numerous players and teams
reaching contract agreements and executing trades.
The changes include:
--banning travel for free agents to visit teams or for team
officials to visit free agents.
--the postponement of offseason team activities (OTAs) that were due
to start April 6 for teams with new coaches, April 20 for all other
--the closing of team facilities for two weeks, except for players
who are receiving medical treatments.
NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said in the joint
statement: "It is our responsibility to work together and protect
the health, safety and well being of everyone in our business.
Nonetheless, public safety is paramount during this national
emergency and we will continue to work with the NFL, medical experts
and seek guidance from federal agencies to adjust our business
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell added in the statement: "Based on the
most recent guidance provided by leading health officials, and in
consultation with the NFLPA and both our and the union's medical
advisors, we believe this is the appropriate way to protect the
health of our players, staff, and our communities. We will continue
to make decisions based on the best advice from medical and public
health experts and will be prepared to make further modifications as
The ban on travel related to free agency will spark new procedures
regarding medical tests for players who are changing teams.
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The statement read, "The NFL and NFLPA are developing protocols that
will provide clubs with opportunities to review a free agent
player's medical records from his prior club(s) and to arrange for a
free agent player to have a medical exam in the player's home city
or at another nearby location. These steps are consistent with those
announced last Friday for club contact with draft-eligible college
Regarding a potential start date for OTAs, the sides announced, "The
parties will periodically meet and reassess the public health
situation to determine an appropriate start date for any offseason
team activities and other related considerations as this situation
New protocols will be put in place for clubs regarding the cleaning
of facilities and the identification of any players or staff members
"who may be at elevated risk."
Before the joint announcement, the NFL had been the only major U.S.
sports entity conducting business as usual amid the coronavirus
pandemic -- albeit the NFL is currently in its offseason. The NBA,
NHL, MLB and MLS all shut down, and the NCAA canceled all of its
championship events, including the men's and women's basketball
--Field Level Media
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