Fifty-six NFL players have so far tested positive for COVID-19 since training camps opened to rookies on July 21, players’ union data reveals.
Camps opened for all players July 28, and the season is scheduled to kick off on September 10 with health and safety measures in place designed to mitigate the potential spread of the coronavirus.
Players have until 0500 AEST on Friday to inform the league of whether they intend to opt out of the season, with almost 70 reportedly intending to skip the 2020 campaign over COVID-19 concerns.
Eligible players who opt out voluntarily will receive a $US150,000 ($A210,000) stipend, while “high-risk” opt outs get $US350,000 ($A485,000).
Buffalo Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White hit back at critics on Twitter amid reports he was considering skipping the season, though it was not immediately clear if he had chosen to opt out.
“Crazy that me choosing my family’s wellbeing over a game comes with so called fans attacking and questioning me and saying I’m selfish,” tweeted White, a 2019 Pro Bowl selection.
“No you guys are selfish for thinking that football is bigger than life.”
Health issues that qualify a player for being considered high risk for severe COVID-19 include cancer, type 2 diabetes, certain heart conditions and asthma.
With pre-season games cancelled and attendance limited – or outright banned – in stadiums across the country, Commissioner Roger Goodell told fans in an open letter last week:
“The NFL in 2020 will not look like other years.”