While the NFL is an extremely lucrative business, it is not immune to the effect of COVID-19 and its impact on the economy. While the league is still hoping to have a 2020 season, the NFL is preparing for the possibility of having no fans in attendance during games. That would result in a significant loss of revenue, as NFL teams routinely play in front of sellout crowds. With the projected start of training camp three weeks away, the league is already looking at ways to save money during the 2020 season. On Tuesday, the NFLPA informed its board of representatives that the NFL proposed 35% of player salaries be held in escrow to help manage costs during the 2020 season, according to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero.
Two of the league's more prominent players quickly responded to the report. Michael Thomas, the New Orleans Saints' All-Pro receiver, said that players would "sit out" before they would agree to the NFL's reported proposal.
"Lol everyone will sit out and not play until they get their stuff together before we do this"
Bills receiver Stefon Diggs sent out a series of tweets Tuesday night shortly after the NFL's proposal went public. The proposal, from Diggs' perspective, has added to the overall uncertainty that is the 2020 season.
"I miss football … I love football … with all of me … But there's so many unanswered questions with this upcoming season. I'd be lying if I said I was comfortable starting back up. I've been training my butt off just trying to stay ready and prepared. I've never played a game with zero fans in the stands. Even in little league we at least had parents and other family members … this will be weird if it happens."
Given the current uptick in COVID-19 cases across the country, it is unclear whether or not football will actually take place this fall. As alluded to above, it is still the league's intention to start training camp on time, albeit with a reduced preseason. The regular season is also slated to start on time, even though it may or may not include fans in attendance. All of this can change, however, depending on the ongoing spread of COVID-19 and whether or not it can dissipate over the next several weeks.
But if the NFL can play in 2020, it's clear that, based on Thomas' reaction, players will not want to play at a discounted rate, especially given the health risks associated with playing football during a pandemic.