PHOENIX – On the same day the NFL Players Association reported 72 positive tests for league athletes, it shared a map that tagged Phoenix as the No. 2 hotspot for the virus among the 32 metropolitan areas where NFL teams play.
The NFLPA has voiced concerns about players reporting to training camp on July 28 in some of the country’s most hard-hit cities. The Cardinals rank second behind the Miami Dolphins. The New England Patriots were last, and the New York Jets and Giants were second-to-last.
NFL owners are scheduled to meet Friday.
The players association already has stated its desire to eliminate all preseason games because of the continued rise in COVID-19 cases.
“Every decision this year that prioritizes normalcy over innovation, custom over science or even football over health, significantly reduces our chances of completing the full season,” Cleveland center JC Tretter, the NFLPA’s president, wrote in a message posted to the union’s website. “We don’t want to merely return to work and have the season shut down before we even get started.”
Beyond preseason games and training camps, the NFLPA has other questions about how the NFL will operate. The Boston Globe reported those concerns include:
If a player tests positive for COVID-19, would that be considered a football or a nonfootball related injury? A football injury guarantees a player his entire salary (except bonuses), but a nonfootball injury allows teams to reduce pay.
What happens to players who want to opt out of this upcoming season due to health or other reasons? Do they receive full base salary or a portion?
The 72 players who tested positive make up about 2.5% of total players in the NFL, although the NFLPA did not say how many have been tested.