NFL teams will be prohibited from postgame interactions within 6 feet (1.8 metres) of each other, which means players won’t be allowed to exchange jerseys after games as part of the guidelines to help limit the spread of the coronavirus.
The restrictions are outlined in the gameday protocols finalised by the league and NFL Players Association on Wednesday.
The 11-page document sent to each club and obtained by The Associated Press includes several changes for the upcoming season:
— Players and coaches are not required to wear masks, but everyone else on the sideline is.
— Everyone with access to the bench area is prohibited from sharing any personal items, including cups, food, towels and clothing.
— Anyone who records a body temperature at or above 38 degrees Celsius on game day will not be permitted to enter the stadium.
— Inactive players must either be in the designated bench area or must remain in the locker room, an empty suite or some other designated, isolated location in the stadium during pregame and throughout the game to avoid interactions with any non-team personnel.
— On-field fan seating is prohibited.
— Cheerleaders, mascots, flag runners and other entertainers must be approved by the NFL in advance and, if approved, must meet physical distancing and screening and testing requirements.
— Media is banned from the locker room.
Several players criticized the league banning jersey exchanges.
San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman wrote on Twitter: “This is a perfect example of NFL thinking in a nutshell. Players can go engage in a full contact game and do it safely. However, it is deemed unsafe for them to exchange jerseys after said game.”
Star wide receiver Stefon Diggs called the rule a “joke” and Eagles cornerback Darius Slay was confused by the logic tweeting: “So we can tackle each other for 60 minutes but can’t exchange a jersey that takes 2 minutes.”
Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson called it “silly” and asked, “why are they letting us play at all?”
The league and the players’ union still haven’t agreed on testing and screening protocols.