After the rollercoaster of a year like 2020 was, taking a look back to understand actions taken in the NFL by teams and players to prevent the coronavirus from threatening the integrity of all its participants can be seen as an exercise in perspective. As Super Bowl LV approaches and fans are more eager to find the best Super Bowl odds prior to the game, let’s take a look back at how teams performances were affected by the COVID-19 virus on their way to reach the NFL Championship game.
An Exodus of Players Opting Out of the Season
As soon as it was decided that the NFL would go on through with their season, of course following strict health and security protocols, a mass exodus of players took the option to opt out of the season because of health prevention reasons. It was reported by ESPN that 66 players in total decided to not play the 2020 season in order to have better protection against the virus.
Most players put forward their concerns for their families’ health and safety as the main reason to opt out. Teams were left to re-build their rosters to be able to compete at the best level. At the end of the day the NFL was able to go on with their season without any major fuzz and with the health and safety of players and team personnel as their main point of focus. The pre-season came and went with teams doubling up on their protocols including team zoom meetings, social distancing even in practices and no fan interaction in the teams’ facilities.
Line Up Changes, Schedule Changes, Venue Changes, Changes Everywhere
As teams began rolling into the season, many things happened, both good and bad. For good, fans finally got to have their football action back, even allowing a great majority to dabble into two of the most popular activities that stem off the NFL, playing fantasy football and online betting. For bad, teams were quick to find out that playing a full season of professional football through a pandemic meant gearing up for anything and everything unexpected. Teams like the Dallas Cowboys who lost their star QB Dak Prescott to a season ending injury also saw their backup quarterback Andy Dalton be separated because of a positive COVID test.
A myriad of teams saw their schedules shuffled around because of COVID health breaches amongst the league. With teams ultimately being on the losing side of the battle against COVID, seeing week after week how players were put on no play lists because of virus scares or actual positive cases. Teams like the Buffalo Bills and Baltimore Ravens, both squads poised for a deep postseason run saw various of their games being postponed to different dates because of COVID scares with the Ravens having to face a pivotal division game against their division rival Steelers with a line up full to the brim of backup players since most of their starters were on COVID-19 watch lists.
The San Francisco 49ers, last year’s Super Bowl runner ups saw themselves having to move their home games to Arizona after the Santa Clara County officials in California, home of the niners saw to all contact sports and their practices be stopped because of health risks.
No Cooperation Means Paying A High Price
From before the start of the season the NFL made it a point to make sure all teams were completely aware of all the strict and non-negotiable rules and restrictions that were to be followed in order to play the 2020 season. In a nutshell, teams were made aware that whoever didn’t follow the rules would have to pay hefty fines in return. While most teams have followed all the rules to the dot, others like the Las Vegas Raiders and New Orleans Saints have had to shell out some big bucks in return for their not following of rules. While the Saints were fined with $500.000 and a 7th round draft pick, the Raiders saw a $1.2 million dollar check and a 6th round pick because of their breach of the rules and protocols.