Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press
The NFL would “gladly” have players stay in hotels for the remainder of the season in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.
In July, the NFL Players Association declined the option for players to stay in hotels from Thursday to Sunday each week, making it unlikely it would agree to full-time hotel stays for the remainder of the season.
Though the league played the first three weeks of the season without being majorly affected by the coronavirus pandemic, two games have been postponed in Week 4.
The Tennessee Titans have had eight players and eight staff members test positive for COVID-19 this week, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, leading to the postponement of their home game against the Pittsburgh Steelers until Week 7. The league also announced Saturday the New England Patriots’ game at the Kansas City Chiefs will be pushed back as a result of positive tests on both teams.
Florio speculated the threat of canceled games or a shortened season could make players more open to staying in hotels.
Both the NBA and NHL utilized bubbles to continue their seasons and postseasons this year, and each moved forward with zero canceled games as a result of COVID-19.
MLB allowed teams to play in their home stadiums during its shortened 60-game regular season, though the league provided stricter measures following outbreaks within multiple organizations. The rules, which were adjusted in August, limited players from gathering and going out when on the road, required the use of masks in most locations and charged officials with monitoring clubhouses and team hotels for violations.
Any hotel plan by the NFL would require a more expansive strategy than these other leagues utilized because of the number of players and team personnel involved. Teams can have 55 players on their rosters each week (including 48 active players) plus 16 practice squad players who would likely have to be protected as well.
As Florio noted, more players could choose to opt out of the season if the league decides to put all teams in hotels for the rest of the year.