NFLPA Rep Believes NFL Should Reconsider ‘Bubble’ Approach For 2020 Season

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Any relationship between an employer group and an employee group is going to involve some differences of opinion about how business should be conducted and what rules should be put in place. Obviously, both groups will work with some degree of self-interest in mind—after all, that is what an ownership group or a workers’ union’s function is, to advocate on that group’s behalf.

The NFL and the NFLPA are no exception, as we’ve seen play out over the course of the past couple of months. Earlier today, I already wrote about how the amendments to the latest Collective Bargaining Agreement have still not yet been finalized. The deadline for player opt-outs is one outstanding issue, but perhaps there are others that either side wants to revisit.

With the MLB, for example, exhibiting significant issues with having now three of its teams having multiple members test positive for Covid-19, some in the union are concerned about the future of the NFL season, and believe that the idea of playing in a bubble should be discussed.

Both the NHL and the NBA have taken the approach of conducting its seasons in a bubble, a fairly tightly controlled environment in which all of the league’s teams play in one or two central locations. Both leagues have been successful in getting their seasons underway without any significant incidents.

The MLB didn’t even get into a week of its regular season before the Miami Marlins’ players’ off-field lack of discipline resulted in the spread of the virus in their locker room, and into that of the Philadelphia Phillies, with the St. Louis Cardinals now also experiencing a number of cases.

Said an NFLPA representative, via Josina Anderson, in light of the news of major players and a head coach testing positive for Covid-19 or being placed on the reserve/Covid-19 list, “I just don’t think it’s feasible from a logistics standpoint” to conduct the NFL season outside of a bubble environment.

Doing so for an NFL team is much more difficult than that of an NBA or NHL team, both of which have smaller rosters and coaching staffs. It’s also pretty late in the game for the NFL to try to adopt this approach, now not far from a month out of the first games being played, though they have improvised before and have acknowledged that adaptability will be crucial.

Still, the NFLPA rep did not flinch at the news of Doug Pederson’s positive test and it didn’t sound the alarm bells about canceling the season. “This is to be expected”, the source said, adding that the question is, “where are we a few weeks from now? Will numbers stabilize or decrease?”. He said that even at that point, discussions of canceling the season would be premature.

Still, I agree that it’s worth reconsidering the bubble approach. After all, how much difference would it really make if there are no fans attending the games anyway? If it significantly increases the likelihood of completing the season, even if it would prove to be a major undertaking—even if it would require delaying the start of the season—I would be all for it.

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