NFL instituting tiered employee system to combat COVID-19 spread

(Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

To help combat the spread of coronavirus throughout its ranks, the NFL is instituting a tiered system designed to limit access to restricted areas like locker rooms, training rooms, and practice fields. 

In a memo sent out to teams around the league, first obtained by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, there will be three tiers to institute the Infectious Disease Emergency Response (IDER) plan.

Tier 1 will be comprised of players and the necessary personnel who must have access to them, including coaches, trainers, and doctors.

Tier 2 includes lesser assistant coaches, general managers, football operations staff, video personnel, and security.

Operational staff, public relations teams, field managers, and transportation workers headline Tier 3. 

Members in all tiers will be required to undergo daily COVID-19 testing while masks will be necessary as long as it does not inhibit athletic activities. 

Such a tiered system comes as a response to a recent rash of positive coronavirus tests from groups of players on several NFL teams — most notably the Dallas Cowboys and their star running back, Ezekiel Elliott. 

On Sunday, the NFL Players’ Association advised its players to not participate in private group workouts, which had become commonplace amongst teammates during the coronavirus hiatus. 

“Please be advised that it is our consensus medical opinion that in light of the increase in COVID-19 cases in certain states that no players should be engaged in practicing together in private workouts,” NFLPA medical director Dr. Thom Mayer said. “Our goal is to have all players and your families as healthy as possible in the coming months.”

The recent outbreak has prompted notable medical professionals such as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Anthony Fauci, to advise the NFL to partake in a bubble format in 2020 like the NBA and MLS are preparing to do later this June. 

Optimism that the 2020 NFL season can be carried out normally is prevailing, at least for now.  

As of now, a majority of the league’s 32 teams are expected to report to training camps on July 28.