After announcing that the NFL definitely plans to return in the fall while preparing to keep players as safe as possible, the league has begun to have a problem with players opting out. Many players over the past few months have come out and very outrightly stated their problems with the NFL’s plans. Big-name players such as Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson, New Orleans Saints WR Michael Thomas, Cleveland Browns DE Myles Garrett, and Houston Texans DE JJ Watt have taken to social media to call out the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell on their inability to put out a clear plan to keep everyone safe while also having a full season. Since the barrage of social media posts from a number of players, 30 players have opted out of the 2020-21 NFL season. The New England Patriots have a league-high of 6 players who have opted out, 3 of which are high-level starters. I strongly believe that many more players will opt out unless the NFL comes out with a definitive strategy on how to have a great season while keeping everyone safe.
Personally, I completely understand where players are coming from. Football is all contact and it will be very hard to keep that from happening so the league needs to come up with a strategy for how to be as safe and cautious as possible. If they do not, many more players will decide not to play and the league will lose revenue while also getting hate and criticism for not protecting its most important asset: the players. For example, Russell Wilson is a player who seems to be leaning towards opting out. He recently came out and said that his wife just had a baby so he needs to be careful with a newborn at home, thus participating in this season of football might be too great of a risk for him. Another example is Kansas City Chiefs Guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, who opted out of the season because of COVID. He had been working as an orderly at a Montreal long-term care facility during the pandemic which showed him the stress that this pandemic has put on individuals and the healthcare system, leading him to decide to opt-out in order to reduce the risk of spreading the disease. It is very understandable why many players and their families would be skeptical about playing this upcoming NFL season. If the NFL wants to have a full season, it is necessary that they come up with a clear strategy on how to keep their players safe and protected.