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Finalized NFL COVID-19 rules forbid players from ... attending sporting events over safety concerns. Ban on church attendance lifted.


League still plans to sell tickets to fans

Photo Illustration by Budrul Chukrut/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The NFL and the NFL Players Association finally settled this week on terms for the 2020 season concerning COVID-19 rules and protocols, and one item on the discipline schedule that appears to be flying under the radar was highlighted by WBZ-TV's Michael Hurley.

According to the published agreed-to league policies designed to help slow the spread of the coronavirus and keep players safe, NFL players are banned from attending professional sporting events — except for NFL games or events.

Yes, the NFL will punish players for attending sporting events because the league believes such behavior will exacerbate the virus' spread.

However, the NFL is still selling tickets, so at least fans will still be able to attend.

What are the new rules?

Tom Pelissero, a reporter with the NFL Network, which is owned and operated by the NFL, reported Monday that the league and the players' union had agreed to a final COVID-19 discipline schedule for the 2020 season. The agreement outlines "High Risk Covid-19 Conduct" for which players can be fined and suspended without pay for uptimes to four weeks. The safety concerns are so great, there will be no first-offense warnings for players who violate the conduct rules.

The first four items on the High Risk Covid-19 Conduct list are not unexpected: no night clubs with more than 10 people; no indoor bars with more than 10 people; no house gatherings of more than 15 people; and no indoor music concerts.

What stood out to Hurley was item No. 5 on the list: "Attending a professional sporting event (other than applicable NFL games or events) unless the player is seated in a separated seating section, such as a suite or owner's box, is wearing PPE, and there are no more than 10 people in that separate seating section."

Apparently, the NFL believes attending sporting events the way a normal fan would can boost the spread of COVID-19 and is not safe.

But it's not so dangerous that the NFL will stop selling tickets to games.

Hurley noted:

And if you saw this inclusion on the list and figured that it meant there's no way in heck that the league will still be trying to sell as many tickets to fans in 2020, then you are likely mistaken. Only the Jets and Giants have ruled out fans from attending games in 2020. The rest of the league is putting together various contingency plans to try to get as many fans into their buildings as possible, so long as local governments allow it. ...

Granted, the NFL only believes it's safe for players to attend sporting events if those players are in a suite, with a maximum of 10 people, all of whom must be wearing face coverings. Fans? Well, the safety rules are different for fans … because their money goes toward the NFL's bottom line. While sitting in the stands among the commoners may be dangerous for NFL players, it's perfectly safe — ehhhh, it's safe enough — for the paying customer.

What about the church ban?

The NFL came under fire in July over a proposal that would have listed indoor church services as one of the banned activities.

Apparently the players were not going to stand for a ban on religious services, so the line was removed from the final deal, as reported by Pelissero.

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