The NFL Players Association wants to make sure its membership understands the risk associated with playing football this year.
To that end, the union emailed agents on Monday, telling them to alert their clients about issues that could arise when the NFL attempts to hold training camps and then the 2020 season amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The memo, obtained by multiple media outlets, reads in part, “As we consider the possibility of beginning an NFL season in the midst of this COVID crisis, we want to ensure that your player-clients are provided with the most up to date information regarding COVID, including advice from the medical experts regarding some underlying medical conditions that may place certain individuals at increased risk of severe illness from COVID,” the letter stated. Every player needs to be aware of their individual medical status as they approach a return to work.
“To that end, the NFLPA is directing you to provide each of your clients with important risk factor information provided by the Centers for Disease Control that appears below, and by mid-July, you must engage each of your clients in a conversation about the vital importance of carefully reviewing this information with their personal physician.
“They should ask their personal doctors any and all questions they have regarding these risk factors in light of their personal medical history and their job as an NFL player. They should also discuss any risk factors with their team doctor.”
The NFLPA then listed a number of factors that put people at increased risk for severe problems if they get COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
–Chronic kidney disease
–COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
–Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant
–BMI of 30 or higher: Obesity (body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher)
–Serious heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies
–Sickle cell disease
–Type 2 diabetes mellitus
The union also listed the factors that the CDC indicated “might” create increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19:
–Children who are medically complex, who have neurologic, genetic, metabolic conditions, or who have congenital heart disease are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 than other children.
–Cerebrovascular disease (affects blood vessels and blood supply to the brain)
–Hypertension or high blood pressure
–Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids, or use of other immune weakening medicines
–Neurologic conditions, such as dementia
–Pulmonary fibrosis (having damaged or scarred lung tissues)
–Thalassemia (a type of blood disorder)
–Type 1 diabetes mellitus
The memo was issued the same day that NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith spoke with USA Today about the problems the coronavirus pandemic could cause to the NFL’s 2020 plans.
“If you wanted to create the perfect sport for the transmission of a virus, it would be football,” Smith said. “So how do you deal with the fact that someone’s going to test positive, that person is going to have had a tremendous amount of contact with other people on his team? And for the most part, everyone who tests positive will likely be asymptomatic.
“So our thinking, it seems to me, has to be focused on, ‘How do you test regularly?’ And hopefully the saliva test will come online fairly soon, we will be able to test more frequently, there will be a faster turnaround time.”
Smith also admitted that it is unclear what would occur in-season if two teams that were set to play each other both experienced COVID-19 breakouts.