As the NFL considers contingency plans for conducting the 2020 regular season in the fall, leaders of the players’ union said Wednesday that they are considering a variety of options and would be receptive to any scenario conceived with the health and safety of players and the public in mind.

“Everything is being considered, but nothing has been decided,” Thom Mayer, the medical director for the NFL Players Association, said during a video conference with reporters. “The science is going to guide us . . . . Everything is on the table.”

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and other league leaders have said they hope the season will start on time in September. But Goodell, without discussing details, has acknowledged that the league is contemplating contingencies for having a season amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. According to people familiar with the NFL’s planning, the league is considering the possibilities of a shortened season, games in empty or partially filled stadiums or games being relocated or rescheduled.

“Everyone is committed to doing everything we can to come back and come back strong and start the season on time,” DeMaurice Smith, the NFLPA’s executive director, said Wednesday. “That is something that is in the hearts of people to get done. So the commitment is there. But at the same time, we have to proceed with a tremendous amount of caution, both as we make decisions on how to . . . keep our members safe but also to make sure that we embrace our obligation to our greater community and our neighborhoods to make sure that something that we are doing doesn’t in some way adversely impact our community or adversely impact the first responders and people whose job it is to keep us safe.”

The NFLPA formed its own coronavirus task force, chaired by Mayer, a month ago and has been in contact with the league, union officials said.

“There’s one inviolate rule, and that is there are no bad ideas,” Mayer said. “So any idea that someone comes up with — no matter how innovative, no matter how seemingly crazy — you take it at full face value. You discuss it. You say: How can we protect our players?”

Smith said the NFLPA submitted a memorandum of understanding to the league this month to guide the two sides as they deal with coronavirus-related issues, and hopes it is formalized soon. Smith said that the union and league will have to work on guidelines by which players would be tested for the virus. He declined to speculate about the union’s reaction to any proposal that might call for players to be sequestered to be able to play games.

“There’s going to be a myriad of factors you have to evaluate and facts that you have to know even before you can contemplate something like a sequester or a quarantine group,” Smith said. “So instead of going down that rabbit hole of all the things that would look like, I think it is best for us to rely on the medical experts that we have . . . . Trying to come up with what an NFL camp would look like under A, B, C, D, E and F, G scenario — we’re certainly going to do those things. But . . . it’s very important, I think, to engage in the right process of both thinking and execution.”

Asked about the prospects for teams’ training camps to open as scheduled late in the summer, Smith said: “With respect to training camp, I don’t know. And I think it is [appropriate] for leaders in difficult situations to say, ‘We don’t know.’ “

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: