The NFL is prohibiting postgame interactions within six feet during the 2020 season, which includes a ban on jersey swaps between players, according to a report by NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.
The jersey exchange ban came last night in a new list of game day protocols sent to clubs from the league and NFLPA.
NFL teams will be forbidden from postgame interactions within 6 feet of each other and jersey exchanges between players will be prohibited during the 2020 season, sources say.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) July 9, 2020
Another way the NFL will look different in the COVID-19 world.
In addition to the ban on postgame fraternizing, other changes of note announced in the league’s new protocols include an end to on-field seating, a requirement for teams to travel to stadiums by bus and the barring of media members from locker rooms.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport also reported that coaches and players on the sideline will not have to wear a mask, but that any additional personal would be required too.
Other game day protocols: Coaches and players won’t be required to wear masks on the sidelines. Everyone else in the bench does have to wear a mask. https://t.co/ovKPcCwaD9— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) July 9, 2020
While the additional protocols make sense in the grand scheme of the league’s plan to combat COVID-19, the ban on jersey exchanges appears to be a contradiction.
As outlined by San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman on Twitter Thursday, some feel this does not make much sense that players would be permitted to play a three-hour football game, but are not allowed to talk and swap jerseys after games.
This is a perfect example of NFL thinking in a nutshell. Players can go engage in a full contact game and do it safely. However, it is deemed unsafe for them to exchange jerseys after said game. 😂🤣😂 https://t.co/fWefsUSVDc— Richard Sherman (@RSherman_25) July 9, 2020
Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson also voiced his displeasure with the new protocol, calling the rule “silly,” before echoing Sherman’s sentiments.
Then explain to me why are they allowing us to play at all? The other 4 quarters don’t matter.. I don’t understand so help me sir. https://t.co/LQDcLvKiYs— Deshaun Watson (@deshaunwatson) July 9, 2020
Sherman and Watson have a point. If the threat of players spreading the virus is that serious — even with the battery of testing administered by the league — the likelihood of contraction is just as prevalent during the four quarters of the actual game as it is in postgame interactions.
While the league is clearly doing all they can to ensure football happens safely and responsibly this fall, the jersey exchange ban seems like an overreaction when there is so much work still to be done.