If fans are allowed in stadiums this season, the NFL will require them to wear face coverings, league spokesman Brian McCarthy said Wednesday.
For those wondering, yes, it is league-wide: fans at NFL games this season will be required to wear face coverings pic.twitter.com/D139KGKQ4r— Brian McCarthy (@NFLprguy) July 22, 2020
The mandate will apply wherever fans are permitted in attendance, and will apparently supplant lack of local requirements. Fans that do not follow the mask requirement will be turned away and denied entry.
While many clubs have voiced their intention to have limited fans at games this year or implement social distancing guidelines, the Giants and Jets announced this week they will have not have fans in MetLife Stadium at all this season, following the New Jersey governor’s executive order.
The NFL’s mask requirement comes amid ongoing negotiations between the league and NFLPA as they determine proper safety protocols for the upcoming season. Both sides agreed to testing procedures for training camp on Monday.
With testing protocols and the mask mandate hammered out, it appears the league and union have already addressed the toughest negotiation points and should have no major impediments to starting the 2020 season on time.
The league still seems confident that fans will be allowed to attend at least some games this year, but with the continuing rising cases around the country, it appears increasingly likely stadiums will be empty next month.
Mic Drop: Antonio Brown Suspended, Steelers Coverage, Keys to Season
Mike Asti discussed a gauntlet of topics, including the announcement of Antonio Brown’s suspension, the keys to the upcoming season and who’s facing the most pressure. Asti also pulled back the curtain and explained the perimeters to covering the Steelers in the midst of a global pandemic like COVID-19.
Giants LT Nate Solder Opts Out of 2020 Season
New York Giants left tackle Nate Solder has opted out of the 2020 season, he announced Wednesday on Twitter.
Solder cited the health of his family as his main reasoning to sit out this year. His son Hudson has been battling cancer for the last four years, and he is a cancer survivor himself. He and his wife Lexi also have a newborn, their son Emerson who was born this spring.
“With fear and trembling, we struggle to keep our priorities in order and, for us, our children’s health and the health of our neighbors comes before football,” Solder said in a statement.
Solder is one of the highest-profile players yet to opt out this season. Other notables include New England Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower and Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Marquise Goodwin. Both players also have newborns at home and referenced preexisting conditions in their families.
While Solder’s absence will be a loss for the Giants, it will be the Steelers’ gain. Pittsburgh opens up the 2020 season on the road against the Giants at MetLife Stadium.
Without Solder, the Giants may be starting two rookies at tackle when the teams meet on Sept. 14 in first-rounder Andrew Thomas and third-rounder Matt Peart. That is far from an ideal scenario when T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree are coming off the edge, a duo that combined for 26 sacks a year ago.
So, Nate Solder, the Giants LT, has now opted out of the season.— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) July 29, 2020
Andrew Thomas is a rookie on the other side. Matt Peart, another rookie, may be the day one starter now too.
TJ Watt and Bud Dupree are licking their lips looking at that Week 1 matchup for both of them.
Solder is the fourth-highest paid left tackle in the league, according to Spotrac. He was set to make $9.9 million in base salary this year, and count $19.5 million against the Giants’ salary cap.
Former Steeler Dr. Myron Rolle Says it is Unsafe for NFL Season to Start
Former Pittsburgh Steelers safety and current neurosurgeon Dr. Myron Rolle says it is unsafe for the NFL season start, and that more time is needed before professional football can return in full.
Joining CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Tuesday night, Rolle expressed his concerns as players around the league arrive at team facilities for training camps amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. He thinks the best option is to postpone, or even cancel the season all together.
“I do not think it’s safe to return right now,” Rolle told CNN. “I think the NFL should delay the sport or cancel it this year to allow the wonderful women and men on the front lines to really get ahead of this pandemic and make it safe for everyone to come back to the sport.”
Rolle says the safest path for football to return requires a significant reduction in the numbers of cases across the country. While some states have found a way to slow the virus, that is not the case elsewhere, with hotspots in Arizona, Florida and Texas still raging. Rolle added that football is not a sport that necessarily lends itself to social distancing.
“When you have states that are hot beds and players coming from these places, I think it’s very difficult to sort of say, ‘I want to social distance,’ in a sport that’s inherently close,” Rolle explained, citing the “need to be cohesive in the locker room and in the huddle and walk-throughs close together.”
“It’s actually encouraged to be physical. It’s encouraged to have hand fighting at the line of scrimmage to tackle a player,” Rolle continued. “And as a football player, if you’re thinking about trying to keep yourself safe in the midst of a game that inches matter, one step too slow, one step too late, that’s the touchdown. That’s a win versus a loss.”
Rolle also called out the NFL directly, saying that if they really are the American institution and community leader they claim to be, they should be setting an example instead of trying to be the exception. He wants the league to “be a leader at the forefront and put the players’ safety and their families’ safety as a premium.”
“If the NFL wants to be part of the community, I think it needs to be responsible and think about what is actually happening in the community right now,” Rolle said. “A pandemic happening and infection rates going up and hospitalizations occurring, PPE at high demand.”
Drafted in the sixth round out of Florida State back in 2010, Rolle spent time with the Tennessee Titans and Steelers before leaving the NFL to attend medical school in 2013. He is currently a third-year neurosurgeon resident at Massachusetts General Hospital.
While the coronavirus situation across the U.S. does not seem to be showing much improvement, the NFL is moving forward as planned. Players arrived at training camp this week, and the league still intends to kick off the 2020 season on Sept. 10 between the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans.