Nfl, players agree on rules, finances
The NFL and players’ union reached an agreement Friday to set protocols — and financial ramifications — of the most unusual season in league history. Doing so ensures that training camp will start on time, with veterans reporting Tuesday for a preseason that will look unlike any other.
The NFL Players Association Executive Committee voted unanimously to recommend coronavirus-driven collective-bargaining agreement changes to its 32 team representatives. The NFLPA’s team reps then voted 29-3 in favor.
Gone are preseason games, replaced by a strength and conditioning program at the start of training camp that would prevent full practices for about three weeks, after players are given the option to opt out by Aug. 3. The salary cap will remain at $198.2 million and can’t be any lower than $175 million next season. Rosters will decrease to 80 players by the middle of August, while practice squads will increase to 16.
In a statement, commissioner Roger Goodell said the health and safety measures — players will be tested daily for the first two weeks, and every other day if the positivity rate gets below a certain threshold — was guided by medical directors and endorsed by experts, including the Centers for Disease Control.
♦ The Bears did the inevitable, canceling season-ticket packages for the 2020 season. If the team is able to host fans in a socially distanced setting, season-ticket holders will be allowed, exclusively, to buy single-game tickets. Those with personal seat licenses would be given first choice.
In a letter sent to season-ticket holders, president/CEO Ted Phillips said the Bears will work with officials to form plans to welcome fans to Soldier Field, but it’s yet to be determined whether they’ll be allowed in — and, if so, how many. If fans attend games, it likely will be at 20% or 25% of capacity.
Family Fest, the Bears’ annual exhibition at Soldier Field, and Varsity Bears, a practice at a local high school, were canceled. Patrick Finley
♦ Chiefs offensive lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif announced that he will opt out of the 2020 season because of concerns about COVID-19, becoming the first known NFL player to do so. He is the only medical school graduate in the NFL and has been on the front lines of the virus response.
♦ The Vikings signed coach Mike Zimmer, 64, to a three-year contract extension through the 2023 season.
COLLEGES msu football team to isolate 14 days
A couple hours after Michigan State Spartans offensive lineman Jordan Reid went on Twitter to ask why the 2020 college football season was being played, the school announced that all members of the football team will quarantine, or isolate, for 14 days.
MSU initially stopped football workouts Wednesday after a member of the staff tested positive for COVID-19 following a round of testing last weekend. During additional surveillance testing, a second staff member and one student-athlete tested positive.
♦ Heeding pleas for patience from college sports leaders, the NCAA Board of Governors held off on making any decisions about whether to hold championship events in fall sports during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Today the Board of Governors and I agreed that we must continue to thoughtfully and aggressively monitor health conditions around the country and the implementation of the COVID-19 guidelines we issued last week,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said.
GOLF Thompson, Werenski share 3M lead
Michael Thompson and Richy Werenski topped the 3M Open leaderboard in Blaine, Minnesota, going into the weekend, Tony Finau and Talor Gooch climbed within a stroke and stars Brooks Koepka and Tommy Fleetwood missed the cut.
In warmer and windier conditions on the quiet, spectator-free TPC Twin Cities course, the scores crept up after Werenski led the first-round pack with an 8-under 63 and followed up with a 67. Thompson caught him with a 66.
NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith (left) and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell helped finalize an agreement to ensure that training camp starts on time.