(Reuters) – Fifty-six National Football League players have so far tested positive for COVID-19 since training camps opened to rookies July 21, according to players’ union data compiled through Wednesday.
Camps opened for all players July 28, and the season is scheduled to kickoff Sept. 10 with health and safety measures in place designed to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.
The deadline for players to opt out of the season was set for 4 p.m. ET (2000 GMT) on Thursday, with more than 60 reportedly intending to skip the 2020 campaign over COVID-19 concerns.
Eligible players who opt out voluntarily will receive a $150,000 stipend, while “high-risk” opt outs get $350,000, according to the union, the National Football League Players Association. Health issues that qualify a player for being considered high risk for severe COVID-19 include cancer, type 2 diabetes, certain heart conditions and asthma.
Buffalo Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White pushed back against critics on Twitter https://twitter.com/TakeAwayTre_/status/1291350651570663424 amid reports he was considering skipping the season, though it was not immediately clear if he had chosen to opt out.
“Crazy that me choosing my family’s wellbeing over a game comes with so called fans attacking and questioning me and saying I’m selfish,” tweeted White, a 2019 Pro Bowl selection. “No you guys are selfish for thinking that football is bigger than life.”
Offensive tackle Lucas Niang, a third-round draft choice of the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs, and Cleveland Browns guard Malcolm Pridgeon, opted out prior to Thursday’s deadline, according to Around the NFL https://www.nfl.com/news/roundup-jaguars-cb-rashaan-melvin-voluntarily-opting-out.
With pre-season games canceled and attendance limited – or outright banned – in stadiums across the country, Commissioner Roger Goodell told fans in an open letter last week: “The NFL in 2020 will not look like other years.”
(Reporting by Amy Tennery; Editing by Bill Berkrot)