NFL players had until yesterday 4:00 p.m. ET to tell their teams if they were going to opt out of playing football during this Coronavirus pandemic. Only 67 players decided to opt-out of the 2020 season. That number seems incredibly low to me.
What does it mean when a player opts out before the NFL deadline? Money, that’s what. From the Boston Globe:
Any player who opts out and is in the high-risk category will receive a $350,000 stipend for 2020, with his contract paused. Players in the voluntary opt-out category will get $150,000 in the form of an advance on a contract.
How many NFL players have high-risk health problems?
I wonder just how many players in the NFL are what you would normally consider “high-risk.” Whatever the number is, I imagine it’s quite small. Playing in the NFL is hard. I don’t know if a player with autoimmune problems could compete. Baltimore Ravens tight end Mark Andrews has type I diabetes. He’s not one of the 67 players who chose to opt-out this season. He is planning on playing football in the pandemic.
That only leaves players who have a family member who is high-risk. I doubt a lot of players who have their elderly grandparents living with them.
That doesn’t seem like a baller thing to do.
That would leave only players who have a wife or child with a health problem. For example, Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford. His wife Kelly had surgery last year to remove a brain tumor. Kelly Stafford is considered high-risk. Strangely enough, Matthew Stafford did not opt-out. He will be playing this year.
Players who are not high-risk have nothing to gain if they opt out before the deadline. Not really. If they opt-out before the deadline, they get a $150,00 “advance” on their contract, meaning for the 2021 season. If a non-high-risk player opts out for the 2020 season and then gets cut for the 2021 season, he will be on the hook for paying his former team $150,000.
The NFL’s COVID-19 scheme hurts journeymen players the most. Players who aren’t well known, well paid, and might only play in the league for a few short of years. If they elect not to play football during a deadly pandemic, they probably will not have $150,000 to pay their team back when they get cut. Players like that might feel as though they don’t have a choice whether or not to play football during a pandemic.
Personally, I will be surprised if the 2020 NFL season even takes place. Because of the number of players and support personnel required to play the game of football, the chances of infection are ridiculously high. For those that play in the line of scrimmage, I don’t see how they can play and not get COVID-19. I assume these players know that, right?