PONTIFICATING FROM THE SUNSHINE STATE – JUNE 26
By Leo Haggerty
A THOUGHT FROM THE COMBATANTS
Well, the other shoe has finally dropped. Personally, I’m shocked it took this long to come to fruition.
New Orleans Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins, when asked whether he will be comfortable returning to play the 2020 National Football League season, stated that Covid-19 “has to really be eliminated” before that would happen. The former Philadelphia Eagles star goes on the say that “we just have to hope that guys are socially distancing and things like that. And that puts all of us at risk, not only us as players and who’s in the building, but when you go home to your families. You know, I have parents that I don’t want to get sick.”
The 12-year veteran and member of executive committee of the NFL Players Association isn’t the only one speaking out. Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott, one of the most notable players that has contracted the coronavirus, also expressed his concern about returning to the gridiron.
The former Ohio State Buckeye expressed that “I hope we play. I want to let you guys know that I do hope we have a season but it has to be right. We have to find ways to make sure that players and their families, and the coaches also and their families, aren’t put at risk. We got to put the health of the players and the coaches and support staff first.”
So, that leads us to the two big questions between workers (NFLPA) and management (NFL owners) and they are critical. Is this an essential business is one and the other is who is bearing the brunt of the risk.
Let’s deal with the first one and my opinion is going to “overcook the grits” of a great many fans. Obviously, NFL football, as well as all other sporting events, are NOT essential businesses and there’s irrefutable proof of that.
Since the middle of March, the Big Four professional sports leagues in North America came to an abrupt halt and, to this date, are not set to return in the near future. Still, life went on without being able to watch our favorite team so sports do not fall under the essential business guidelines.
The second one is a little harder to pinpoint a definitive answer because the question is different for each group. Why, you ask? Let me elaborate.
For the owners, the risk is economic. No sports could force the sale or, even worse, elimination of some franchises completely especially the ones that depend on fan attendance to survive financially.
For the players, the risk is focused on health. They are the ones that will be exposed to close personal contact every day at practices as well as games.
Memo to Roger Goodell and the other pro sports league commissioners. You need to, first and foremost, focus on all the issues that deal extensively with the health and safety of the players.
If they don’t, people will perceive this as simply a money grab by a bunch of rich owners. Not a good scenarion to say the least.