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NFL To Proceed With Voluntary Virtual Offseason

The NFL and all of its players recently announced that they have reached an agreement in terms of modifications to the “rules regarding offseason workout programs and minicamps,” according to reports. The modifications are a response to the Covid-19 pandemic. On Monday, the NFL Management Council sent out a memo to all chief executives, presidents, general managers, and head coaches announcing the changes. 

According to the memo, starting next week (April 20th) there will be a “virtual period” of the offseason program while all team facilities remain closed. During this period, teams and executives can still have meetings online, conduct classroom instructions, workouts, and any other educational programming that would normally be done during the off season anyway. 

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The NFL is planning to have this virtual period last from April 20th through May 15th, and from that point they hope to transition into an “on-field” period of training. When team facilities are able to re-open, the NFL will begin this on-field period which would entail resuming traditional offseason workout programs.  

The reopening of team facilities will occur in accordance with protocols established by the NFL, conforming with federal, state and local rules and regulations, and only after consultation with the NFL Players Association, which will be made widely known to teams at the appropriate time. If one or more NFL team facilities remains closed for any period of time, all team facilities will remain closed during that period,” [NFL].

Before the coronavirus pandemic, normally, any NFL team that had hired a new head coach after the previous year’s season would have been able to start their offseason program three weeks earlier than other teams; for this year that would’ve been on April 6th. Now, any team that hired a new head coach for the 2020 season will be able to begin their virtual period for three consecutive weeks in addition to holding a “voluntary veteran minicamp” that would go on for four weeks. 

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All of these programs, however, are completely voluntary, as they normally are during a typical offseason. Veteran players who will be participating in the programs this year will be paid at least $200 a day for their work, and players will be credited for their participation as well. 

Once the virtual period of this offseason program is complete, each team will have the choice to either continue their workout programming online or, if they want, move to an on-field format. Again, they’d only be able to return to an on-field program if all health and safety guidelines for every team facility throughout the country is approved. 

“Both our Executive committee and Board of Player Reps have voted unanimously to approve a virtual offseason program up until the start of training camp. We will be sending out all the details and setting up calls with players and agents for how this will work shortly. Training facilities are indefinitely closed and it’s unknown when they could reopen. That will be determined by the latest medical recommendations and also latest regulations from public authorities,” the NFLPA said.

It may be awhile before fans are able to flood into stadiums to watch their favorite sports teams in general again. However, it’s important that we remain positive while also adhering to all health and safety policies during this pandemic, so the NFL is remaining hopeful that their offseason will continue as planned.